There’s a chance Nigel Dawes will return to the Calgary Flames lineup tonight against the Detroit Red Wings, which leads some to wonder, "Where the heck has he been?"
Since suffering an injury prior to the NHL’s Olympic break, and adding in a little healthy time in the press box, Dawes has played just once in the last 17 games for Calgary. A good portion of those games were because of injury, but he has not seen game action since the team has returned from their two-week sabbatical. So just where, or what, is his role going to be? And what should it be?
I wrote a piece on "Where Does Backlund Fit" a couple days ago. I guess this could be another in a line of "Where Does ______ Fit?" Depending on where Dawes slots in, I wonder what the pulse is from the FN faithful on a guy like Dawes. Numbers wise, Dawes has been streaky. He has 10 goals and 26 points in 52 games for the Flames. But lately, he’s had trouble finding the net, without a goal in the last 18 games he’s been a part of.
I think Dawes still adds some value. If he ends up taking the place of Chris Higgins in this game, that’s just fine. He does have the ability to add offence (albeit, just like the rest of this team, not consistently). Higgins is a game-time decision with a reported lower body injury, and Dawes had chemistry earlier this season with the center of that line, Daymond Langkow. If instead they shuffle up the fourth line and put Dawes in somewhere there, I think that’s just fine. His production is pretty good for a fourth line, and he can play physical when he wants to. Or if the Flames decided to take out Kotalik and put Dawes in, I think most would be fine with that, especially after a rather invisible performance from Kotalik Sunday in Vancouver.
Dawes should be hungry to get back in and prove that he belongs as an everyday player. When his motor is running, I think he’s a very effective player on this team. However, that motor needs to be running on a regular basis. Maybe some extended time out of the lineup will help that come true.