Flames juggle lineup again with loss of winger Lance Bouma to broken leg

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CALGARY — Another significant injury to start the season has Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley shuffling his lineup again.

The loss of rugged winger Lance Bouma to a broken bone in his leg means alteration up front for the Flames, who are 1-2 heading into two ballyhooed games in as many nights.

The Winnipeg Jets (3-1) get the Flames for their home-opener Friday followed by Calgary at home to Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers (0-3) on Saturday.

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Bouma underwent surgery Wednesday on a broken left fibula suffered in the previous night’s 4-3 loss at home to the St. Louis Blues.

The 25-year-old from Provost, Alta., who scored a career-high 16 goals and 34 points for Calgary last season, is expected to be sidelined at least three months. Bouma signed a three-year contract extension with the Flames in July.

The Flames also lost top defenceman T.J. Brodie (broken hand) and winger Joe Colborne (broken thumb) to their injuries in pre-season games. Colborne is week-to-week and Brodie is “not that close yet,” to a return, said Hartley.

Six foot one and 210 pounds, Bouma led Calgary forwards in hits (264) and blocked shots (82) last season.

“It’s a big loss for us, but like we’ve always said you can’t win with the players you don’t have in the lineup,” Hartley said. “You have to win with the ones that are on your roster.”

Josh Jooris may draw back into the lineup. He’s been a healthy scratch two straight games.

The Flames also recalled Markus Granlund from their American Hockey League team in Stockton, Calif. Granlund had a goal and two assists in the Stockton Heat’s first game of the season.

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After playing wing in last season’s playoffs, forward Sam Bennett has been groomed at centre to start his rookie campaign. The 19-year-old returned to his former position on Mikael Backlund’s line in Wednesday’s practice because of Bouma’s absence.

“We put Sammy on the wing this morning to give him another view of the game, but our lineup is not decided yet for Winnipeg,” Hartley said.

Bennett, Calgary’s highest ever draft pick at fourth overall in 2014, was held without a point his first three games this season.

Bennett collected an assist in his NHL debut April 11 in Winnipeg and quickly became a post-season staple in Calgary’s lineup. He had three goals and an assist in 11 playoff games.

“Kids rate their game with the score sheet,” Hartley said. “If their name is on the scoresheet they feel they have a good game, but that’s not always the case. Especially at centre, where there’s so many responsibilities, we’re asking Sam to make sure he’s playing the game in three zones.

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“We’re telling him ‘your game is not only on the scoresheet, it’s all over the ice, so play the full 200 feet.’

“He’s (19) years old. Ninety-nine per cent of those kids are playing junior. He’s playing at the NHL level so let’s remember this and at the same time, we’re working video, we’re working before and after practice with him. We’re in a phase right now where we want to get him better as quickly as possible.”

Bennett acknowledged moving from wing to centre has been an adjustment.

“Obviously I expect a lot from myself and I think I can bring a lot more to the table,” he said. “I’m here to help my team win. That’s my main focus. It’s nice to get the points, but you’re not going to play if you’re scoring one goal and letting in two.

“It’s more important right now to be focusing on my defensive play. That’s how I’m going to stay in the lineup.”

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Hartley said goaltender Karri Ramo will get the start Friday in Winnipeg. Ramo took the 5-1 loss to Vancouver in Calgary’s season-opener. Jonas Hiller went 1-1 in the next two games.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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