TJ Brodie injured, will not return to the game

Well, if the Flames’ season wasn’t over already, it might be now.

While killing a penalty in the second period, T.J. Brodie blocked a shot from Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Justin Faulk. It hit him in the leg, leaving Brodie unable to stand back up until play was whistled down. He remained on the bench for some time afterwards, including testing things out during stoppages in play and skating one 23-second shift before he went down the tunnel – and didn’t return to the game.

Brodie’s injury may or may not be long term, but we know he’s for sure out of this game, and there’s good reason to be concerned about his status – although the Flames were leading 4-1 at the time of Brodie’s absence being declared official, so there was no need to rush him in the moment.

When talking about Flames MVPs for this season, you have a choice between two players: Johnny Gaudreau, and Brodie. Brodie has been an absolute rock on the backend, averaging 25:27, a full minute more than anybody else, as the team’s number one defenceman. He’s scored four goals and 25 points through 39 games this season, which, prior to this game, placed him fourth in Flames scoring.

His scoring is a secondary value, however; where Brodie really stands out is his ability to play huge minutes, and play them well. No Flames defenceman plays in tougher circumstances, with frequent defensive zone starts (-3.91 relative to the rest of his team) and playing against other teams’ top players; and yet, his corsi for is 50.32% – one of just four Flames regulars to be a positive possession player.

And let’s not forget the Flames played their first nine games of the season without Brodie. They won two games over that time, both in overtime. Simply put, they were a disaster without him.

This isn’t like last season when the Flames lost Mark Giordano right before the trade deadline. Then, the Flames were still prime for a playoff spot. This season, though, Calgary is sixth in the Pacific Division – the worst division in the NHL this year – and still eight points out of a playoff spot. They were going to be in tough to make the playoffs even with Brodie; without their best player, that dream is much further away.

There is a silver lining, though: another kid will get a chance to prove his stuff in Brodie’s absence, should it be bad enough a recall is necessary. Jakub Nakladal was already brought up to deal with Dennis Wideman’s suspension, but this could be a last chance for Tyler Wotherspoon, or another chance for Brett Kulak, as well. Kulak got his first chance in the NHL at the start of this season in part due to Brodie’s injury already.

And let’s not forget, this is still a rebuilding team, and youth is paramount. We already know what we have in Brodie. We already know he’s irreplaceable. At least this would give the Flames an extended look at a kid.

  • Daves Waves

    Just when we thought the IR list would be left vacant…
    Oh well. Might be a blessing in disguise. Let TSpoon prove (or not prove) that he belongs in the ‘chel, and give Nak plenty of time to show what he’s got. Looking forward to June!

  • RKD

    Really hope it is not a long term injury our d-corps without Brodie was a total mess. Maybe it just a real bad bone bruise or something. His leg probably didn’t respond like it should have and hopefully it just needs some rest.

  • cgyokgn

    Must be very disheartening for Brodie after missing so many games early in the season but hopefully no breaks and just a bruise as RKD mentioned. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  • BlueMoonNigel

    I love the underlying tank message in this article. If Brodie is out long term it gives a chance to some player from Stockton to prove himself, which is the ballyhooed upside. The downside is more losses and a higher draft pick.

    As I see it, Nakladal was brought up to fill in for Wideman. Smid really doesn’t fit in with the Flames’ future plan–assuming they even have one–so I think they may run him out every night to showcase him for a possible move later in the month. Has Wortherspoon even warranted a look-see in Calgary this season? I would have thought Kulak was the next up after Nakladal.