Cast of plenty down and out due to flu bug

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Moments after partaking in practice, Rene Bourque took off his skates and took a deep breath.

The pain on his face couldn't be missed.

"It's easier to skate than it is to walk," said the Flames left winger. "The skate boot is like a cast."

Cast?

Don't worry, Bourque doesn't need one, but he was still mighty sore yesterday after being hit on the top of his left foot by a Dion Phaneuf slapper during the late powerplay chance in Vancouver Wednesday night.

Bourque went for X-rays immediately after the game, and the results were negative.

"They took four or five pictures and didn't find anything. They said it's a bad bruise and will be sore for about a week or so," he said before limping to the showers.

That Bourque was skating was something of a surprise at the Saddledome yesterday.

However, there were plenty of others not on hand.

Phaneuf, Daymond Langkow, Michael Cammalleri and Matthew Lombardi were all absent.

Head coach Mike Keenan said they are fighting the flu bug that's made it's way through the dressing room since camp began.

Fortunately, there is nearly a week until the season opens.

Unfortunately, he doesn't know if any of those players will be available for tonight's final pre-season clash against the Edmonton Oilers.

"The number one priority is health, first," Keenan said. "You're better off to protect the health of the players than perhaps pay as much attention to a particular game, at this point."

Also in the infirmary is John Armstrong, the first-year pro who suffered a leg injury. He is ticketed for the minors.

Three players reassigned

Defenceman Matt Pelech and forwards Brett Sutter and Kyle Greentree were sent to the AHL's Quad City Flames yesterday.

Pelech, the first-round choice in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, suited up for only one pre-season game -- in which he scored a goal -- but Keenan said he left with a positive impression, starting with being named the fittest among the prospects in testing.

"He made major strides, improved his play and understands the game more than he did a year ago. He could be an easy call-up player for us," Keenan said.

Sutter, who was the second fittest prospect, played two pre-season contests to kick off his second pro season, while Greentree played one.

"He's understanding more what the expectations are here," Keenan said of Greentree. "He's a bit older, although he doesn't have as much experience others do because of the route he took to get to the National Hockey League. He's a really determined player around the net ... and will continue to improve in other aspects of his game."

The Flames have 29 players left in camp: three goalies, nine defencemen and 17 forwards, including Armstrong.


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