As we head into game-day tomorrow against the Colorado Avalanche, here are a few notes from throughout this week.
– Both LW Sven Baertschi and RW Roman Cervenka were absent from practice today. Coach Bob Hartley classified Baertschi as “doubtful” for Thursday’s game due to a lower body injury, while Cervenka was off due to a maintenance day. This is entirely speculation, but I’d imagine that the Flames are keeping tabs on Cervenka and giving him precautionary off-days whenever they can given his prior clotting issues. No further details were available regardng Baertschi’s injury, except that he was likely going to undergo further testing.
– With Cervenka and Baertschi out, the bottom-six lined up like this at Wednesday’s practice:
- Hudler – Stajan – Comeau
- Begin – Jones – Jackman
If I were to guess, I’d wager that Tim Jackman slots back in on the fourth line and Steve Begin sits out once again on Thursday night, assuming Cervenka indeed returns. We’ll know more about who’s in and who’s out tomorrow morning.
– In addition, Hartley confirmed that D Chris Butler will be back in the line-up – he’s been skating on a pairing with Cory Sarich – while Derek Smith will rotate out. With no back-end injuries, they’re rotating bottom-pairing bodies in and out to keep guys fresh.
– Airdrie product Zach Boychuk has been placed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes. At just 23-years-old, Boychuk has established himself as a very good AHL player but seems to lack the same confidence and scoring touch at the NHL level. I personally doubt the Flames pick him up, as they’re short on spots for top-nine forwards as is.
– After this handy four days off, the Flames get busy in a hurry. They play Thursday and Saturday at home (against Colorado and Chicago), then have two days off before playing every two days on the road in Detroit, Columbus and Vancouver. The club doesn’t get caught in a glut of back-to-back games until later in February, though.
– Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Laurent Brossoit has been absolutely excellent since getting cut from the World Junior roster. After today’s win, Brossoit is 11-2-0 with a 1.32 goals against average and a .954 save percentage. To be fair, the Oil Kings are really, really good.
– Also notable is Portland blueliner Tyler Wotherspoon, whose +43 rating is second in the entire Canadian Hockey League behind Portland teammate Nic Petan. Yes, he has a better plus/minus than every single major junior player in Canada except for Petan.
– Johnny Gaudreau was held off the score-sheet for consecutive games this weekend, the first time such a thing has happened since last January. Despite putting up zero points for Boston College, Gaudreau is the leading scorer in his conference.
– Speaking of college prospects, Providence College goaltender Jon Gillies leads his conference in save percentage (0.926). His strong play is one of the main reasons a very young Friars club is well-situated in the conference’s playoff picture.
– And finally, Karri Ramo continues to perform well for Avangard Omsk in the KHL. His club is first in their conference and projected to have a strong playoff run. The KHL regular season ends on February 17, but the playoffs stretch well into April. In other words? Barring a massive collapse by Avangard, don’t expect to see Ramo in Flames colours this year.