The Calgary Flames are coming off their first win in eight attempts.
A strong showing against the Winnipeg Jets earned them a 3-2 decision in the first of two home games before an extended run on the road. The players earned the right to enjoy it … briefly.
On Sunday afternoon, Jonathan Huberdeau rejoined the group at practice, Chris Tanev didn’t seem to suffer any setbacks after his return to action on Saturday. But in case anyone thought they’d get too comfortable with the way things ended on Saturday, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter was there to remind them they’re still a long way from the expectations that have been set.
Another shakeup with the lineup offered insight into the still unsettled nature of this crew.
After a couple of solid games, Adam Ruzicka stays put with Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli. Jonathan Huberdeau practiced again for the first time in nearly a week. He was on Mikael Backlund’s flank, with Trevor Lewis on the other side. Dillon Dube, who was benched most of the third period on Saturday, moved to the wing on the fourth line with Blake Coleman and Brett Ritchie on his wings.
Elevated to the second line again, Milan Lucic skated beside Nazem Kadri and Andrew Mangiapane.
That had the Twitterverse talking immediately. It also shows that need for another scoring winger on the NHL trade market.
Not that Sutter would care what others are saying.
He hinted that Ruzicka might stay put. Even when Huberdeau returns. When asked about the 23-year-old’s strong play on Saturday, a goal, an assist and a high compete level, Sutter mentioned someone else.
“I like that Lindy likes who he’s playing with,” said the Calgary Flames head coach. “He’s our best forward, Lindy, so you shouldn’t be experimenting with him.”
On the back end, Sutter went back to the MacKenzie Weegar/Chris Tanev pairing. Tanev played with Connor Mackey in his first game back on Saturday. The Noah Hanifin/Rasmus Andersson seems untouchable. And Nick DeSimone skated with Nikita Zadorov on the third pairing. Dennis Gilbert has rejoined the AHL Wranglers. Connor Mackey is the odd man out.
“It’s such a short bench down there, too,” Sutter said of his defence after the game on Saturday. “We’re still searching for the magic combinations.”