Kris Russell, Jonas Hiller both expected to play on road trip

Not a fan of players on your favourite team getting injured? Then great news from Flames practice today: Kris Russell, who appeared to be hurt following a blocked shot in the Flames’ 2-1 overtime victory against the Chicago Blackhawks, should be in the lineup for tomorrow night’s game while they’re in Anaheim.

To add to that, Jonas Hiller, who has not played since suffering a lower body injury on Oct. 28 against the Ottawa Senators, could very well be playing on this upcoming road trip. 

On Russell

There was cause for concern regarding Russell’s injury. After all, typically, when a player leaves a game after just one period, it’s difficult to assume the best for him. He blocked a shot off the back of his hand, and was seen getting it looked at on the bench before ultimately withdrawing from a 1-1 game.

In Russell’s absence, the rest of the team stepped up. T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, and Dennis Wideman all played huge minutes – Brodie in particular, with 31:43 – and succeeded in overpowering the Blackhawks. They barely allowed them any shooting chances, let alone scoring ones, and consistently drove the play north.

Russell has been one of the worst in the league this season when it comes to that, but he does play rather big minutes, and seems well-liked on the team. His expected return to the lineup doesn’t disrupt the defence, but it does make one wonder how it would perform without him.

(That can be just a general curiosity, though. Like the Flames were able to survive, but not particularly well, without Giordano, or how they were destroyed in Brodie’s absence.)

Even though the Flames’ farm team is nearby in Stockton, it doesn’t sound as if a recall will be necessary. Stockton needs all the help it can get with defence anyway, particularly with its latest case of goaltending-related disaster.

On Hiller

The Flames currently only have 22 active bodies on the roster, so when Hiller returns, there won’t be any need to send anybody down.

Or will there be? Hiller’s return marks the return of the three-goalie set up, which is really more of a two goalie set up while Joni Ortio passes all his time by in the press box. The Flames won’t send Ortio down for fear of losing him off of waivers, but their AHL team also really, really needs a goalie again. It’s possible Hiller’s return will make the dam break.

Of course it’s also possible Hiller’s return won’t mean a thing, and the Flames will carry on as they did before, albeit hopefully with more stabilized goaltending. Karri Ramo is expected to make his 11th straight start for the first game of the road trip, with Ortio continuing to back him up, so Hiller won’t be back quite yet.

The road trip has two additional games on it: in Arizona Nov. 27, and San Jose Nov. 28. That marks one month since Hiller went down with injury, and he’s expected to be activated by then. Since they’re back-to-back games, it’s possible he plays in one of them.

On Hudler

One final note. Jiri Hudler sat out the Flames’ 2-1 win over the Blackhawks, a late scratch due to the flu. Mason Raymond took his place on the top line, and looked good – even better than Hudler had been as of late. 

Hudler was the odd man out of line rushes at practice, while Raymond retained his spot with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. There’s a chance he doesn’t play tomorrow’s game.

    • Rock

      Ari feeding the sheep if we had to play Hamilton big minutes we would get destroyed. Glad to see Russell is doing better the last 10 games he has been playing very good but we don’t expect you to say that lets just keep beating Russell down. Who do we beat down next week I see we already started with Hudler or maybe Hartley, Colburn, Raymond, Boilg, Monny.

      • wot96

        In no way was I hacking on Russell. I expressed a view. We’re still allowed to do that, aren’t we?

        If the Flames perform well without him in the line up, maybe that means that they have a better line up without him in it. That would be a good thing to know. If they perform badly, maybe he brings something intangible to the line up that doesn’t show up in the numbers. Golly, that ought to be important to the Russell boosters out there. I mean, if nothing else, it might make him more marketable or might make the decision to re-sign him easier (or harder).

        This is an opportunity to see how the team deals with missing one of its principal defenders. That’s a good thing to know at any time.

        As for the rest of your comments: Bollig deserves the criticism; so does Colborne though he is playing better on a line with Stones; Raymond has been bad most of the year but showed up and did the carpe diem thing with the “first line” last game; Hartley’s deployments have caused endless confusion and bemusement (but nowhere have I said that we should sack him); Monny is a stud who got off to an iffy start – it happens (to Jarome, annually); Hudler is likewise off to an iffy start. I don’t need Ari or anyone else to “lead me” to those opinions – I think they are self-evident but whether they are or aren’t, they’re mine.

        If you want relentlessly happy, feel free to medicate yourself. Just don’t post afterwards.

  • Kevin R

    I’m shocked Russell is going on this road trip. I saw the replay when they showed him icing that hand on the bench & it looked broken. I expected a TJ Brodie type of injury report of 6-8 weeks. I’m assuming X-rays showed up negative & it’s just badly bruised & swollen. For all the criticism of the guy, hey is a friggin warrior.