SUN Hockey Pool

Flames black and blue-line

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

On the eve of the Calgary Flames four-game road trip, their depleted defence corps may be looking for reinforcements.

Adrian Aucoin left in the third period of Tuesday night's 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars due to a "lower-body" injury and didn't practice with the club yesterday.

Head coach Mike Keenan wouldn't divulge whether the team planned to summon another defenceman before facing the St. Louis Blues tomorrow, the first game of a swing that will see them meet the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings.

"We'll probably wait and see what his status is (today) before we evaluate that possibility," Keenan said. "That certainly will be up to Darryl (Sutter, the GM). He'll get a health update from our training staff and move forward from there."

Aucoin has lately been paired with top shutdown defenceman Robyn Regehr.

"He brings a lot to the team," Regehr said. "He's an older, more experienced guy and a guy relied upon on the powerplay and penalty kill."

The Flames will face a couple of teams in Montreal and New York they don't see often, and are looking to rebound from a defeat that snapped their winning streak at three games.

"Those are two teams in the East with a lot of firepower up front and a lot of skill on the back end with good goaltending," said defenceman Dion Phaneuf. "They're well-rounded teams that are a good measuring stick for us and good challenges.

"We've got to win hockey games against all teams, whether they're at the top of the standings or the bottom.

"It's a huge trip for our team. We know right now the points are huge and we're playing some very good teams. It's the longest (trip) of the year so far, and we've got to go out and make sure we get as many points as possible."

Prospects get the call

Defenceman Keith Aulie was the lone Flames prospect chosen yesterday to attend the selection camp for Canada's world junior team.

Aulie, a fourth-rounder in 2007 playing for the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings, was among 14 blueliners invited. The tournament begins Boxing Day in Ottawa.

John Negrin, who plays for the Kootenay Ice, was not invited, but Flames GM Darryl Sutter wasn't surprised.

"He's a good enough player, but there's a little bit of a hierarchy, too," Sutter said. "If he wasn't going to make it, he's better off not to go. Half those guys aren't going to make it."

Sutter said Aulie and Negrin are both having good seasons.

"For somebody like Keith, it's a really good experience," Sutter said. "In his development, he's probably behind Negrin."

Highly touted prospect Mikael Backlund, the club's first-round pick in 2007, has already been named to Sweden's junior squad.

"He's close to playing in the NHL. It's just becoming more of a complete package, and he'll get an opportunity at this tournament," said Sutter, alluding to the fact Backlund will be given a more offensive role this time.

Mitch Wahl, Calgary's second-round pick in this year's draft, was named to Team USA yesterday. Wahl plays for the WHL's Spokane Chiefs.


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