Lance Bouma continued his unexpected scoring prowess Wednesday night with his fourth goal in as many preseason games. Now the Calgary Flames prospect will sit back, wait and hope he did enough to make the team.
In the Flames final preseason test, Calgary fell 3-2 in overtime to the Phoenix Coyotes. Defenceman Zbynek Michalek scored the winning goal.
Coach Bob Hartley said the Flames will make several cuts Thursday as they get closer to the 23-man roster they will deploy when Calgary opens the regular season one week later in Washington.
“I don’t want to go down, I’ve played in the minors before, I know what it’s all about,” said Bouma, the Flames third round draft pick in 2008. “I know I can play here so I want to be here, for sure.”
Due to a serious knee injury, Bouma was limited to just three AHL games last season. That came after a 2011-12 season in which he was called up in January and spent the rest of the year with the Flames.
He was a good bet to make the club last year but badly injured his knee in October while playing for Abbotsford (AHL) during the NHL lockout.
“For a player that basically missed the entire year last year, Lance showed up in great shape,” said Hartley. “We saw him work here last year during his rehab. He’s a very committed young man.”
Known more as a physical player at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Bouma has just one goal on his NHL resume in 47 games.
“After missing almost all of last year, it’s nice to come in and have success offensively. It gives me more confidence on the ice and in the way in the way I’m playing,” Bouma said. “I feel confident that I’ve showed that I can play here, that my knee is fine and I have confidence in it. Hopefully they have confidence in me.”
Bouma says he won’t let the stats sheet change who he is as a player.
“I have to be an energy player,” said Bouma. “I need to be as physical as possible and get in and forecheck as much as I can. That’s my game and I have to bring that every night.”
Bouma’s goal on Mike Smith from a scramble in front was one of two goals in less than two minutes that suddenly tied the game 2-2 halfway through the third period.
It wasn’t pretty but Hartley says that’s going to be the way it has to be with this team this year.
“If we can have scoring throughout the lineup, that’s going to be very helpful,” said Hartley. “I don’t think we have one go-to guy offensively that will get 100, 110 points. If we can get scoring from our support guys that will definitely help this hockey club.”
The other goal for Calgary (4-2-1) was scored by Corban Knight, another young forward who is on the bubble of making the team.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Shane Doan also scored for Phoenix (3-2-1). The Coyotes finish their preseason Friday night with a home game against the San Jose Sharks.
Mike Smith had 29 saves to get the victory while first-year Swiss goaltender Reto Berra had 22 stops for Calgary.
Berra was making his home debut for the Flames. Acquired last year from St. Louis in the package Calgary got in exchange for Jay Bouwmeester, the 26-year-old has played his entire career in Switzerland.
He has been locked in a goaltending battle with Karri Ramo and veteran Joey MacDonald.
“It’s getting better. For sure, the more you’re on the ice here, you get more comfortable,” Berra said. “I gave everything I had. I think I did pretty good. I think I can play in this league, but it’s not my decision at the end.”
Notes: Notable scratches for Phoenix included former Flames David Moss and Derek Morris along with Rostislav Klesla... Not dressed for Calgary were Jiri Hudler (lower body) and Mike Cammalleri (hand), who are both nursing minor injuries. Brian McGrattan also did not play. Hudler and Cammalleri are expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.