Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports
Key Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie is nearing a return to the lineup, and could play as soon as Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators. The lanky 25-year-old puck-moving defenseman has yet to play this season as a result of a hand injury, and his absence has been sorely felt by a Flames team that has struggled enormously for any number of reasons.
If Brodie returns on Wednesday, he’ll play on a defensive pairing with Mark Giordano. Of course. Where else would he play?
Look we all know that Brodie is a remarkable player. The fast defenseman is steady and clever in his own end of the rink, and absolutely dynamic when he’s rushing the puck. He led all Flames defenders in ice-time last season while playing more minutes per game than anybody at 5-on-5 and holding down a key secondary role on both the penalty kill and the power play. He also managed 41 points.
He may not be widely recognized for it outside of Western Canada, but Brodie is a high-end top-pairing defenseman. In his absence everyone – but Giordano especially – has looked a little bit worse than they did a year ago. When you’ve got a player like Brodie holding down big minutes, a player who can skate the puck out of trouble and has an uncanny knack for just making the right play over and over and over again, it makes everything a little bit easier for the rest of the defense corps.
When you think about the vertical attacking game and the solid defense that characterized Calgary’s identity during the 2014-15 miracle season, Brodie was pretty much always in the centre of it. This season those components of the Flames’ success have been entirely lacking, and we’re left to wonder how much Brodie’s return to action might change that.
While we all knew that Brodie was good, his absence this month has left us wondering if he’s actually ‘game changer good’. He really might be.
And his return to action can’t come soon enough for the Flames.
UPDATE: Brodie has officially been activated from the injury reserve.
#Flames website has updated their injured reserve…Brodie activated, Ferland placed on IR. Calgary now at 23 on the active roster.
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) October 28, 2015
This doesn’t mean he’s officially playing, but it looks pretty good.