As of this morning, the Calgary Flames have 49 players in their training camp. When the sun rises tomorrow, it’s likely they’ll have fewer than that.
Stockton’s training camp begins on Monday and Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan has stated there will be big, big cuts happening after tonight’s game between the Flames and the Winnipeg Jets. That means the stakes are high for anybody that hasn’t cemented themselves as an NHL regular, and that the last two preseason games will see the Flames ice mostly NHL players and begin to fine-tune systems and tactics as they prepare for opening night on October 12. Players that hope to be wearing a Flames sweater on that date will need to either continue their strong play…or figure themselves out quickly, lest they wake up tomorrow in Stockton.
Tonight’s festivities kick off at 7pm MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and TSN3 (which will carry the Jets broadcast, if you get that channel).
Lines, per Pat Steinberg:
Korpikoski – Backlund – Frolik
Tkachuk – Bennett – Chiasson
Bouma – Stajan – Vey
Bollig – F. Hamilton – Poirier
Brodie – Wideman
Jokipakka – Kulak
Grossmann – Grigoriev
Johnson / Gillies
It’s potentially the last chance for a good impression for Lauri Korpikoski, Emile Poirier and Mikhail Grigoriev (who makes his preseason debut), and I’m not quite sure if we’ll see Nicklas Grossmann after tonight either. Heck, that entire bottom-six forward group probably needs to have a good game to cement their spots on the Flames roster.
Welcome back to Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik, possession hockey Super-Friends and both fresh off the World Cup of Hockey (and a concussion for Backlund). Sean Monahan remains the last NHL regular (besides Johnny Gaudreau) who isn’t skating full-on, but he skated this morning with the main group in a yellow caution jersey so he’s likely not far off.
Fresh off a shared shut-out against Winnipeg in his last outing, Chad Johnson gets the start.
Lines via JetsNation’s preview:
Laine – Little – Armia
Tanev – Lowry – Burmistrov
Dano – Copp – Thorburn
Lipon – De Leo – Kosmachuk
Chiarot – Morrissey
Stuart – Postma
Strait – Melchiori
The goalies are Ondrej Pavelec (who will go the full 60 minutes) and Eric Comrie.
It’s a young forward group, along with a veteran defensive pack and a veteran goalie (albeit arguably Winnipeg’s worst NHL goalie). It’ll be a fast and talented Jets line-up tonight, though the forward group is a bit lean on NHL experience and may be prone to energetic, youthful mistakes.
WHEN LAST WE MET
The Flames played Winnipeg last week, beating the Jets 3-0 at MTS Centre. Brett Kulak had three points and Johnson and David Rittich combined for a shutout.
SUM IT UP
Tonight is the last chance for a lot of players to stave off a trip to Stockton and to keep their dreams of NHL employment alive for the time being. Keep an eye on some of the fringe bodies, as they can stick around with a strong performance or be banished with a poor one.