Five themes | Red-hot Flames will be tested by Blackhawks


Despite his small stature, Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau has fared well against the NHL's bigger teams.

Despite his small stature, Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau has fared well against the NHL's bigger teams.

Photograph by: Derek Leung, Getty Images

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1. KUDOS FROM THE COACH — The Scotiabank Saddledome’s atmosphere spoke for itself on Tuesday. And the on-ice product? Not bad either. “The overtime period was a classic,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “It was worth the price of admission.” … According to the coach, undersized rookie left-winger Johnny Gaudreau fared well against the Anaheim Ducks who weighed in as the heaviest team on average at the start of the season (210-pounds). “Johnny had no problem last night,” Hartley said. “He reads the play so well. He knows the danger zones and he’s not avoiding them, he’s just smart about it. That’s the key for a small player to survive. There’s been lots of small players who were great in the NHL, and Johnny’s going to be a great one.” … Gaudreau and C Sean Monahan both scored on Frederik Andersen in the shootout … Monahan is tied for 61st in the league with five game-deciding-goals in the shootout.

2. LEAD BY THE DEFENCE — Looking at the statistics alone, you can see Calgary leads the way with 59 points scored coming from their defence in 20 games played. Nashville and Toronto are next on the list with 42 points scored by their blueline. Their defence is producing in an impressive way. Not news to Bruce Boudreau, apparently. “Their defence has got an inordinate amount of points,” he was saying the other day before his team was beat 4-3 in a shootout. “It’s almost like they’re trying to be like — and successfully — Chicago’s defence and St. Louis’s defence. They put the pressure on you all the time. And to go with the fact that everybody acknowledges how hard they work, it’s a great combination. They’re not surprising me.” Although Mark Giordano had a nine-game point streak snapped on Tuesday, his six goals and 15 assists leads all league defencemen in scoring. Dennis Wideman’s two goals on Tuesday gives him seven on the season and 11 points. Brodie has four goals and 12 assists.

3. WALKING WOUNDED — D Kris Russell (lower body) and RW David Jones (upper body), who were both late scratches on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks, are both questionable for Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. “Kris is doing better, but we don’t want to risk anything with any of our players. There’s a chance that Kris could be in the lineup tomorrow,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “David … there’s progress, but not good enough. With Jonesie, it’s upper body. Tomorrow morning, we’ll wait and see how he’s going to be.” LW Michael Ferland (concussion) is skating and trying to work on his conditioning … C Matt Stajan (knee) and C Mikael Backlund (abdomen) are both beginning to skate on their own. Ditto for C Joe Colborne (wrist). LW Mason Raymond (shoulder) should be skating in the next couple of days.

4. HILLER AND THE HAWKS, RAMO AND THE DEVILS — Hartley made the declaration on Wednesday. “We’re going to go with Hills (Thursday against the Blackhawks). And Karri will be in net against New Jersey on Saturday,” he said. “We look at past performances. We look at recent performances. We have two great guys.” Hiller’s performance against his old club was impressive. With 24 saves and two of three shootout blocks, he improved to 9-4-1 with a 2.33 goals against average and .920 save percentage. He has one shutout in 14 games played. The last time Calgary faced Chicago, Hiller made a 49 saves in an 2-1 overtime victory on Oct. 15. Ramo, on the other hand, was incredible in a 31-save, 1-0 win on April 7 last year. “I think it’s the best I’ve seen anybody play in one game,” said New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr at the time. “It doesn’t matter who would be on the ice, there was no way we were going to score. Just a perfect game by him.”

5. ABOUT THE HAWKS — The Hawks were dealt a blow when they received the news that Trevor van Riemsdyk, a defenceman who came out of nowhere to win a job with Chicago after a strong training camp, will be sidelined three to four months to repair a left patella fracture … The 23-year-old took a shot off his left knee from the Dallas Stars’ Trevor Daley during Sunday’s game … Chicago recalled rookie Adam Clendening from Rockford as a replacement … the Hawks begin a six-game road trip Thursday versus Calgary. They have a 3-4-0 record away from the United Center … A behind-the-scenes series on the Blackhawks which will preview the Road to the Winter Classic. The four-part series also featuring the Washington Capitals ahead of their Jan. 1 outdoor game debuts on EPIX on Dec. 16 … Jonathan Toews leads the team with seven goals and nine assists in 18 games played … LW Kris Versteeg and D Niklas Hjalmarsson are both plus-fives.


Chicago Blackhawks (10-7-1) at Calgary Flames (12-6-2)

Scotiabank Saddledome 7 p.m. (SN Flames, SN960)

Flames player to watch:

C Markus Granlund — Starting to find his groove in the NHL. Since being called up from the Adirondack Flames, the quiet Finn has scored three goals and produced five assists in nine games. In Tuesday’s shootout victory over the Ducks, he had two assists and was a plus-three. Doesn’t shy away from physical play, either.


C. Glencross-S. Monahan-D. Setoguchi

J. Gaudreau-M. Granlund-J. Hudler

S. Baertschi-J. Jooris-P. Byron

B. Bollig-L. Bouma-B. McGrattan


M. Giordano-T. Brodie

L. Smid-D. Wideman

R. Diaz-D. Engelland


J. Hiller

K. Ramo


* D Kris Russell (lower body), RW David Jones (upper body), C Joe Colborne (wrist), C Matt Stajan (knee), C Mikael Backlund (abdomen), LW Mason Raymond (shoulder), LW Michael Ferland (concussion). All five are on the injured reserve list.


Blackhawks player to watch:

C Jonathan Toews — Dynamic player and one of the biggest threats in the game. Will surely be a test for Calgary’s No. 1 pivot Sean Monahan. Solid off the draw and is producing at his predictable clip into the first year of an eight-year, $84-million contract. Has six goals and 12 assists in 26 career games against Calgary and is .603 per cent in his career in the faceoff circle.


B. Saad-J. Toews-M. Hossa

K. Versteeg-B. Richards-P. Kane

B. Bickell-A. Shaw-D. Carcillo

J. Nordstrom-M. Kruger-B. Smith


D. Keith-B. Seabrook

N. Hjalmarsson-J. Oduya

D. Rundblad-M. Rozsival


C. Crawford

A. Raanta


* D Trevor Van Riemsdyk (leg), LW Patrick Sharp (lower body)

Next up:

The Flames wrap up a five-game homestand with a visit from their old friend Michael Cammalleri and the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

Despite his small stature, Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau has fared well against the NHL's bigger teams.

Despite his small stature, Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau has fared well against the NHL's bigger teams.

Photograph by: Derek Leung, Getty Images

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