Ladies and gentlemen, he’s back.
After being day-to-day with a lower-body injury for 28 days, Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith has been activated from the injured reserve. In a corresponding move Jon Gillies, with the Flames on an emergency recall, has been re-assigned to the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.
Smith suffered his lower-body injury in the dying seconds of the Flames’ victory over the New York Islanders back on Feb. 11. While subsequent medical assessments revealed nothing structurally wrong – meaning surgery wouldn’t be required – Smith took awhile to be pain free and then awhile longer to be able to move in his crease in practice with confidence.
In Smith’s absence, the team relied upon Gillies and NHL backup David Rittich. Both had their moments, but Gillies seemed noticeably shakier in net – not surprising given his age and that he’s played less pro (and NHL) hockey than Rittich. The team went 5-6-2 with Smith on the shelf. Gillies returns to a Stockton team desperately needing a goaltender with Mason McDonald and Tyler Parsons dealing with injuries.
Four weeks later and against the same team he played when he was originally injured, Smith returns to the Flames crease. He’s expected to start tonight’s game. With the Flames in a fevered battle for a Western Conference playoff spot, Smith’s return couldn’t come at a better time.