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
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.