Kris Russell leaves game with upper body injury, will not return

Kris Russell played 6:03 minutes over eight shifts in the first period of the Flames’ matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks. He assisted on Sean Monahan’s goal, he had a shot on net himself, and he was doing well with eight corsi events for, and only four against over the opening frame.

He also had one blocked shot and, well, that’s very well what may have caused this:

Blocking shots is always a risk. There are a ton of things that can go wrong: you obstruct your goalie, the puck goes in off you, or, of course… you get injured. After all, when a piece of vulcanized rubber is flying towards you at pretty high speeds, there’s always a chance you’re going to get hurt when it hits you.

Nobody has blocked more shots than Kris Russell since the puck dropped two seasons ago. Today, at least for the rest of this game, it appears to have caught up to him. He was seen on the bench getting his hand looked at, but was able to finish the first period.

Then he didn’t step out for the second period, and was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game. That’s not a good sign for him.

The Flames will play the rest of the game with just five defencemen, so expect big minutes for T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano in particular, and probably for Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Wideman as well. The Flames’ defence will likely turn into a four-man unit for the remainder of this game.

It’s also likely we see somebody called up. Ladislav Smid is the Flames’ only extra defenceman, but he’s only played four games this season, and only one since Brodie returned from injury. In that game, he played a mere 8:42 and looked, well, not great. 

With a handful of options in Stockton – including Jakub Nakladal and Brett Kulak, the latter of whom actually started the season in the NHL – the Flames will have options if Russell’s injury necessitates a recall. There are still four defencemen on the roster who are used to top four minutes, as well, so should the defence be shaken up, they shouldn’t be left hurting any more than normal.