As we all decompress from the wild show that was last night’s 3-2 shootout loss in Vancouver, and prepare for the Flames to clash with a very impressive San Jose Sharks club, why not take a quick glance at what’s going on around these parts.
FLAMES ROSTER MOVES
The Flames are gradually getting healthier, albeit slowly. Blair Jones made his triumphant return to the line-up after a meniscal tear (and surgery) with a two-second performance last night. To make room for Jones, David Jones was placed on the injured reserve with an eye infection that just won’t go away.
The club also announced today that Derek Smith is returning to the AHL. Smith cleared waivers way back on December 9, but because he spent "only" 29 days in the NHL since then (and didn’t play in 10 games), he can head back to the farm without waivers. Smith’s assignment leaves the big club with 22 "active" bodies (2 goalies, 6 defensemen and 14 forwards), although that’s counting Mike Cammalleri, who’s recovering from a concussion. But that also probably indicates that Kris Russell, who was injured last month in Pittsburgh, is probably due back imminently.
Curtis Glencross, David Jones and Kris Russell remain on the IR officially as of this writing.
HEAT ROSTER MOVES
Smith’s return comes at a great time for the Abbotsford Heat, as they got some bad injury news this week.
First off, former Flames veteran Steve Begin announced his retirement. Originally signed to an AHL deal for this season after a surprisingly good comeback season with the Flames last year, Begin suffered a recurrance of an old hip injury. Yes, the same injury that cost him an entire season just two years ago. It’s not surprising that Begin is retiring, but it’s definitely disappointing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s kept on by the organization in some capacity (coaching, perhaps), as he’s whip-smart and a good mentor for the younger players.
Second, the Flames also announced that second-year pro Michael Ferland will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Ferland had some legal troubles last year, and also got caught in the lockout’s roster shuffle – spending time in Abbotsford and Utah before getting sent back to the WHL. He had a pretty good training camp, was reportedly in great shape and got off to a great start. So naturally, because the hockey gods are fickle, his season is cut short. Here’s hoping he has a full recovery and has better luck in 2014-15, because with his size and playing style, he could do well in the Burke regime.
With these losses and other injuries, the Heat forward ranks are a bit thin, but at least they’re getting defensive help with the return of Smith and Patrick Sieloff soon to be back from his lengthy injury.
CAN THE FLAMES FALL TO THE BOTTOM?
The Flames sit third-last in the NHL heading into the week. They have 39 points and have 33 games to go. The Edmonton Oilers are 3 points behind Calgary and have 31 games left. The Buffalo Sabres are 6 points behind Calgary and have 35 games left.
The Flames have the deck stacked a bit against being caught by the teams "chasing" them, though. The Flames’ remaining schedule is against teams with a combined .564 points percentage – the Oilers face .579 opposition while Buffalo faces at .592 points percentage – so they face the weakest competition, on-paper. The Sabres also have seven sets of back-to-back games left, while Calgary and Edmonton have just four apiece.
That’s not to say things won’t get worse for the Flames. Calgary’s the only one of the three teams that may embark upon a wholesale fire-sale at the deadline, although Buffalo trading Ryan Miller may drag them down further into the cellar, if they do it.
If these numbers bear out, and that’s no guarantee, they may have to settle for drafting third overall in June and missing out on Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad.