Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/18/13
Lee Stempniak got the scare and the starting assignment. Go figure. All indications at the morning skate were the Calgary Flames right-winger would be a surprise healthy scratch for Tuesday’s battle with the Boston Bruins at TD Bank Garden, but with Michael Cammalleri stuck at the team hotel with flu-like symptoms, Stempniak was instead working on the top line and was even on the ice for the opening faceoff. “I just tried to prepare like I was playing,” Stempniak said after Tuesday’s 2-0 loss. “Obviously, I want to play, but it’s up to (the coaches) to set the lineup. I’m always ready. I feel like I always work hard. Obviously, I haven’t had the bounces lately, but I’ve been working hard. “Hopefully, I just keep playing and the bounces will even out, and I’ll put this behind me.” Flames head coach Bob Hartley hasn’t hesitated to scratch some of his experienced forwards — ask TJ Galiardi or David Jones — but Stempniak’s removal would have been the most stunning roster move of the season. The 30-year-old arrived in Boston on a four-game scoring skid and is a team-worst minus-17, but he’s still on the first line and second powerplay unit and, at his best, is one of the Flames most dangerous scoring threats. Asked after Tuesday’s morning skate about the possibility Stempniak would watch from the press-box in Boston, Hartley — without naming names — made it clear that no spots were guaranteed. “It’s the same rule for everyone — we’ve said it all along that,” Hartley said. “While it is a rebuild, it’s important for us to set a very clear message on the culture that we want to instill. “It’s all about hard work, and it goes to everyone. I think that I’ve been real clear with everyone on the team — whether you’re a rookie, whether you’re a call-up, whether you’re a veteran … the entitlement is over in Calgary.
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