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The Calgary Flames were sporting their brand new white retro jerseys at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium while the coaching staff was cruising around in new red tracksuits.
That wasn’t the only new look spotted as the team practised ahead of Saturday’s 2019 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic.
In attempt to generate more offence from his two top forwards — Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, specifically — head coach Bill Peters put his lines in a blender, splitting up Gaudreau and Monahan. On the first line, he moved Elias Lindholm to centre and Matthew Tkachuk to right wing.
He bumped up left-winger Andrew Mangiapane and put him with centre Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett on the right side.
Then, he stuck Milan Lucic with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik, a makeshift third line. Meanwhile, AHL call-up Alan Quine was with Derek Ryan and Tobias Rieder.
No biggie, according to Tkachuk.
Even after the Flames generated five goals in a 6-5 shootout win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
“It’s just a little shake-up,” Tkachuk said. “It seems like whenever we do this, it could go back to how it was with a shift or at the end of the first period or a game. You don’t know. It’s good that we get a little shake-up here.
“We scored a few more goals than normal last game but we’ve been snake bitten in the past however many games. It’s just a different look against a team that’s playing pretty good and pretty good defensively.”
The “visiting” Flames are 6-5-1 while the “home” Jets are 5-6-0 but Calgary’s lack of consistency in their big names — Gaudreau and Monahan — have been the story of the 2019-20 season so far.
Gaudreau is scoreless in seven and has three goals and six assists in 12 games.
Monahan has two goals and five assists in 12 games and hasn’t scored in 10.
“Obviously things aren’t going well right now,” Monahan said. “We have to score five-on-five. (Thursday) was a start but we still didn’t play great. Whenever you go on stretches like that, there are always changes. That’s part of the game . . . a bit of a wakeup call for guys, obviously.
“This is a team that has to make a mark this year. This early in the year, you shake things up and get back going.”
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
Saturday is the 28th outdoor game since 2003, and the first of three set for the 2019-20 NHL campaign.
Following the clash between the Flames and Jets, the Nashville Predators will take on the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas on Jan. 1 while the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche square off on Feb. 15 at Falcon Stadium at Colorado Springs.
Only four Flames have played in outdoor NHL games — Milan Lucic and Cam Talbot were with the Oilers when they played the Jets at Winnipeg’s IG Field; Mark Giordano and Mikael Backlund are the two leftovers from the 2011 Heritage Classic team that played at McMahon Stadium.
The Jets have 11 players with outdoor experience.
Peters was a coach on the Detroit Red Wings when they played the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 1 at Ann Arbour, Mi., before 105, 491 fans at Michigan Stadium.
“I do know that during the first T.V. timeout in the Big House, we talked to the players and it was attentive,” Peters recalled. “In the second and third, they were looking around — 104,000 people, there’s snow coming down. And then they gotta play.
“I think it’s important in these games to get everybody going and you keep everybody engaged.”
CZARNIK OUT WITH INJURY
A tough break for Austin Czarnik, who had been on a roll to start the 2019-20 season. The 26-year-old right-winger was placed on long-term injured reserve Friday after suffering what looked like a knee injury in the Flames’ 6-5 shootout win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Peters said Czarnik would be out until Christmas.
“I just know it’s bad,” he said. “He was starting to play well. He had a good opportunity and was playing on the powerplay . . . it is frustrating. He’s had some time in the top-six, took advantage of that and was providing some secondary scoring with us.
“Frustrating for us because he’s a guy, we think he can help us.”
Czarnik, who had two goals and an assist in the last three games, including a powerplay marker in the first period Thursday, played one shift early in the third period and disappeared down the tunnel.
As a result, Alan Quine was recalled from the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat. Quine, 26, was called up a week ago when the Flames needed another forward in the wake of Sam Bennett’s injury at L.A.
But, following Sunday’s 2-1 win at Anaheim, was dispatched back to Stockton.
Flames D Travis Hamonic will skate in his 600th NHL game Saturday . . . Other than Saturday, the Flames will wear their retro white jerseys twice more — on Dec. 19 against the Montreal Canadiens and Feb. 17 against the Anaheim Ducks . . . The average low temperature for Regina on Oct. 26 is minus-five while the high is eight, according to accuweather.com . . . Saturday’s game is the first neutral site NHL regular season outdoor game in Canada . . . It is the fifth Heritage Classic game in NHL history . . . 350 gallons of paint will be used to make the ice at Mosaic Stadium white while 20,000 gallons of water are needed to create a two-inch ice surface.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019