The Calgary Flames saw their flickering playoff chances nearly extinguished on Wednesday night with a crushing 4-2 loss against the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
The loss moves the Flames’ “elimination number” to 5 – any combination of 5 points earned by Chicago or lost by the Flames (via loss or overtime loss) results in the Flames officially being relegated to the golf course for the spring and summer.
All is not doom and gloom in Cowtown, however, as the Flames quietly continued on their business on Thursday. The team made two announcements.
The first: the team signed Finnish goaltender Joni Ortio. Ortio was a standout for Finland’s team at the 2010 World Junior Championships. A product of the TPS Turku organization, coincidentally the same club team that produced Miikka Kiprusoff and renowned as a goalie factory, Ortio was drafted by the Flames in the 6th round of the 2009 entry draft. That draft class has been strangely productive for the Flames: Swedish blueliner Tim Erixon (son of NHLer Jan) is expected to make the jump to North America next year after several years in the SEL, Ryan Howse and Spencer Bennett are both turning pro next season following very strong final WHL campaigns, and Gaelan Patterson emerged as a productive member of the Abbotsford Heat in his first pro season. Add in Ortio and the 2009 class is looking strong.
Heat head coach Jim Playfair told Dan Kinvig of the Abbotsford News that he expected Ortio would get a chance to play before the end of the season.
“But we’ll see him at some point in time before the end of the year, for sure,” the Heat bench boss said. “He’s an exciting kid. He’s got some credentials, and we want to see how he develops and shapes up in the pro game.”
The second move was a bit more surprising, as the Flames re-assigned foward Ales Kotalik to the American Hockey League and activated Daymond Langkow off long-term injury reserve. The Flames announced that they expected Langkow to be in the line-up Friday night when the team visits the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Centre.
Langkow has missed 88 games since inadvertently taking an Ian White slap-shot off the back of his neck during a March 21, 2010 game against the Minnesota Wild. The Flames have posted a respectable 42-34-12 record without Langkow, although they have definitely missed his grit and leadership on the ice – especially during their recent stretch without two regular centers.
Langkow is expected to begin the game playing between rookies Greg Nemisz and Lance Bouma. Langkow will be playing in his 1,014th regular season game, while Nemisz will be playing his 4th and Bouma his 14th.
NOTES: F Patrick Holland (1 goal, 2 assists) and his Tri-City Americans swept Spencer Bennett (0 points) and the Vancouver Giants in 4 games in the opening round of the WHL playoffs. Elsewhere in the Dub, Max Reinhart (1 goal, 0 assists) and Joey Leach (0 points) and their Kootenay Ice are tied 2-2 with Moose Jaw, while Michael Ferland (0 goals, 2 assists) and the Brandon Wheat Kings are also tied 2-2 with Medicine Hat. Ryan Howse (1 goal, 0 assists) and the Chilliwack Bruins trail Spokane 3-1 heading into Saturday’s Game 5… With Matt Keetley returning from injury and the arrival of Joni Ortio from Finland, the Heat re-assigned G J.P. Lamoureux to the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. Lamoureux posted a 8-4-3 record over 19 games with the Heat, including two shutouts and a 2.20 goals-against average.