Jets-Flames Preview

As the Calgary Flames desperately try to stay in the playoff

race despite a long and growing injured list, they’re looking for

help from a player they didn’t expect to have just yet.

The crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome will be buzzing Friday

night because of Sven Baertschi, who is expected to make his NHL

debut as the Flames try to deny the Winnipeg Jets franchise its

first-ever win in Calgary.

“He’s got a gift that is phenomenal,” Flames coach Brent Sutter

said of his team’s 19-year-old prospect. “He can skate, he can

shoot, he can handle the puck, he’s fast.”

That’s why Calgary (30-25-12) drafted Baertschi in the first

round with the 13th overall pick last year.

The Swiss winger has averaged 2.0 points per game this season

with Portland of the WHL, putting up 33 goals and 61 assists in 47

contests, although that has come against junior competition. He was

only eligible to be recalled because of the Flames’ dire injury

woes, with eight regulars possibly sidelined Friday.

“He’s gonna get thrown to the wolves here. It’s an exciting

thing for him, obviously,” Sutter said. “We’re excited about

putting him in the lineup. It’s an unfortunate situation that it

had to get to where it is because of our injury situation, but at

the same time, he’s getting an opportunity.”

That’s specifically because of an injury to right wing Tim

Jackman during Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Montreal. Among those already

out were Michael Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak and Blake Comeau.

“As soon as I got the call, I was so excited,” Baertschi said.

“I’m crazy nervous, but I think that’s normal.”

Captain Jarome Iginla has been doing his best to lead the

depleted Flames with four goals and two assists in his last four

games. He scored twice against the Canadiens while Curtis Glencross

added two assists and scored a goal for the fifth straight

game.

That victory snapped an 0-2-3 stretch at home for Calgary, which

is 11th in the crowded Western Conference but only three points out

of a playoff spot.

“We’ve been going through a tough stretch and sometimes when it

goes like that, you just need to get that one to get over that

hump,” Iginla said. “It’s not pretty, but it’s still a very

important win for us and breaks a bad streak at home and something

to build on.”

Winnipeg (32-28-8) will be trying to regroup after squandering a

third-period lead in a 3-2 loss Thursday at Vancouver. The Jets

missed an opportunity to tie Florida for the Southeast Division

lead, instead slipping into a tie with Washington for eighth place

in the East.

Blake Wheeler scored his fifth goal in as many games to put the

Jets ahead early in the final period, but the Canucks rallied to

hand Winnipeg just its second regulation loss in 10 games.

The bulk of that 6-2-2 stretch came during an eight-game

homestand, but goalie Ondrej Pavelec admitted his team just doesn’t

have the same swagger on the road.

“That’s the big elephant in the room,” Pavelec said. “At home

we’re flying around, the crowd’s roaring, we’re scoring goals. On

the road we don’t do the same things.”

As a result, they’re 11-18-4 away from home, winning in

regulation just once in their last 11. The franchise went 0-5-0 in

Calgary as the Atlanta Thrashers.