Mike Smith is very close to returning to action

The Calgary Flames took to the practice ice at Winsport on Saturday afternoon as they prepare to host the New York Islanders Sunday evening. The big question on everyone’s minds: when will Flames top goaltender Mike Smith return to action?

The short answer: Smith skated today and indicated that everything is feeling better than it has in awhile, but he stopped short of saying he was back. He’ll speak to head coach Glen Gulutzan tomorrow morning and the team will make a decision one way or another.

The Flames had all three goaltenders on the ice for their optional skate. David Rittich came off first, then Smith and then Jon Gillies. While he was on the ice, Smith saw a lot of shots and looked very much like his “usual” self. Speaking with the media following the skate – and cautioning during his chat that he hadn’t spoken with Gulutzan or Brad Treliving yet about how he felt on the ice – Smith described his thought processes in regards to his recovery and how he’ll know when he’s ready to go.

You want to be healthy to start with. And after that, you want to be physically strong enough to be able to go compete at the highest level. And then there’s a mental aspect where you want to be free. In the position we play, you can’t go out there and be tentative. You want to be free and I feel like the past three days I’ve really came a long way in that department, where mentally I’ve been able to not worry about making saves and just kind of reacting, and that’s probably the last piece that needs to come to be able to get back in there and compete at the highest level. Like I said, I don’t want to come back and be mediocre. I want to come back where I left off. That’s kind of a double-edged sword as far as know when that time is, but it’s getting close.

Smith was originally injured in the dying seconds of Calgary’s 2-1 victory over the Islanders back on Feb. 11. In 13 games without him, the Flames have posted a 5-6-2 record and slid a bit in the Western Conference playoff race. In his absence, his role has been filled by Rittich and Gillies with mixed results.

  • Rittich has gone 3-4-1 with a 3.49 goals against average and .888 save percentage
  • Gillies has gone 2-2-1 with a 2.53 goals against average and .916 save percentage

If Smith returns tomorrow, logic dictates that he’ll probably start (otherwise, what’s the point in him dressing). If he dresses, Gillies will be immediately returned to the AHL as he’s up with the Flames on an emergency recall.

    • The Penn

      We need to go hard these remaining games. With or without Smith. I’m thinking very positively about our teams chances makeing the playoffs and then actually makeing some noise dispite the questionable coaching. GFG

  • GetOn'Em

    Who was the donkey..i mean poster that said the leafs forwards are ewual og the Flames? Watching the Leaf and Pe guins game and the Flames are not in the same breath. The 4-0 score for the Leafs compared to the 3-2 by the Flames is the proof..

  • BendingCorners

    Not me, but by the numbers…
    Smith slightly better than Andersen
    Calgary D way ahead on Corsi but top 2 slightly behind on points; 2nd pair Calgary way ahead on points
    Calgary top 3 F ahead on points and Corsi
    Calgary middle 6 forwards ahead on Corsi but behind on points
    Overall it looks like Toronto has the edge with depth scoring (no surprise how often we’ve complained on this site about that this year) but otherwise Calgary comes out ahead. Upgrade the RW on 2nd and 3rd lines and Calgary would be clearly better.

    • BendingCorners

      … this was meant to be in response to GetOnEm looking for a donkey to beat, but somehow FN’s server dropped the connection. Oh well. Have at ‘er GOE.

      • GetOn'Em

        Wasnt taking a shot at you..was at 1967. I do not give corsi any credibility..it is useless. Othereise GG would be king. I just look at what i see..maybe i am wrong. Just i see Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Marleau, Kappanen, Bozak, VanRiemsdyk, Kadri,Komarov and compare those 9 to Gaudreau, Tkchuck, Monahan, Bennett, Backlund, Ferland, Frolik, Jankowski, and Hathaway and I would prefer the Leafs group noy only today but for tge future. Matthews is in my opinion on the career trajectory yo be the best 200 foot center in the league. A Kopitar or Toews in his prime.

        • Chrissu

          Sure you can compare forwards but there’s also defense and comparing Gio, Hamilton, Brodie, and Hamonic is much more favourable than Reilly, Gardiner, Hainsey and Zaitsev.

          You can’t look at one part of the team and automatically assume that’s the team. Look at the team as a whole

          • GetOn'Em

            I agree the Flames D is better in theroy and on paper, but I would argue that the Leafs D has bee playing better..this is because they are buying into a Mike Babcock team D. I wonder at times what a mastermind like his could have done with this roster in Calgary. I also believe the goaltending edge goes to Toronto. Anderson and Smith are about equal, but Curtia McElihienny is better than Rittich right now. So Goalies Toronto. Forwards Toronto. D Calgary. Coaching Toronto. gm Toronto. 4 of the 5 are Toronto in my opinion, making them the better team.

        • FL?MES

          I have a brand new nhl.com Maple Leafs jersey in my possession that someone gave to me as a joke (never worn, tags attached). It is in my clothes donation pile if you would like it (size large). I’m a through and through western boy. Toronto and the leafs suck.

        • BendingCorners

          I’m not sure Matthews is better than Gaudreau. If you compare F1-F9 using only points not points&Corsi then Toronto’s forward group looks better this year. Goals are random events though, and just like Colorado had a good year (and then crashed just as Corsi predicted), Calgary could be having a bad year. If by some miracle Toronto and Calgary meet in the final, it is not at all clear that Toronto would win. Calgary would benefit from some RW upgrades but they are more than capable of beating the Leafs.