The Calgary Flames practiced this morning at the ‘Dome following the annual poker tournament yesterday. For the record, Curtis Glencross did not win the tournament but was the last Flame standing. Many other news bits were tossed about during the morning.
KIPPER’S RETURN IMMINENT
For the second day, Miikka Kiprusoff practised with the main group. The Flames’ all-time leader in wins, games and shutouts has been absent from the line-up since injuring his MCL in a game against the Detroit Red Wings on February 5. The Flames have gone 6-5-2 without their star netminder, but they’d most likely rather have Kiprusoff in net than the revolving door of back-ups.
Danny Taylor skated alone prior to practice and didn’t participate with the main group, but coach Bob Hartley noted that he wanted two goaltenders on the ice and it was his call. The Flames noted that Kiprusoff has not been medically cleared to play and that Danny Taylor remains on the roster.
Taylor cleared waivers on February 12 and most likely can be sent down outright without having to clear again, as waivers are usually good for 30 days. That said, I haven’t seen the new CBA, so I can’t say for certain.
In lighter news, Joey MacDonald cemented his claim to the back-up position with a snazzy new mask, so he can stop wearing his old Red Wings lid.
BACKLUND’S ALMOST BACK, ALRIGHT?
Mikael Backlund practised with the main group as well, indicating some progress has been made with his MCL injury. Backlund went down in Calgary’s February 7 win over Columbus.
He’s wearing the yellow “please don’t hit me” jersey as he hasn’t been cleared for contact, but he was working with coaches one-on-one on a lot of stop-start and stick-handing drills. After practice he seemed in good spirits, so it appears he’s on his way to a full recovery. If I were a guessing man, which I am, I’d estimate he’d be ready sometime after Calgary’s California road trip – which would mean he’s about a week or so away.
RAMO ADVANCES IN KHL PLAYOFFS
Karri Ramo posted a 2-0 shutout win for Avangard Omsk in the seventh game of their series with Sibir Novosibirsk, allowing his team to advance to the next round. Ramo had three shutouts in seven games in the series.
Avangard will face Traktor Chelyabinsk in the second round. Traktor beat Barys Astana in the first round, also in seven games. Omsk and Traktor split their two-game regular season series. Top Russian NHL prospect and probable top-5 pick Valery Nichushkin plays for Traktor and had four points in the first round.