‘I’m feeling really good, ready to go’: Jacob Markstrom on his return to the Calgary Flames lineup

Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
6 months ago
The immediate “oh crap” moment after Jacob Markstrom left practice with an injury was well-broadcasted over the Calgary Flames section of the internet. Every reporter involved with or covering the team had something to say about the incident, and the wait for the starter’s return felt long. Fortunately for Markstrom and the Flames, the injury didn’t keep him out long, as the Swedish netminder has missed only two weeks (seven games) since exiting practice on Dec. 4.
He’s expected to return to the starter’s net when the Flames host Florida on Monday night.
Of course, any time a player leaves practice the way that Markstrom did, the mind immediately jumps to the worst possible scenario. However, thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. He shared his thoughts with the local media at Sunday’s practice.
“I mean when those things happen you never want to miss time, but it obviously could have been worse so you feel pretty good now and it’s not going to get worse unless you get hit there again, but let’s hope not. But yeah, it’s good to be back with the team for sure.”
But how do you know when it’s best to return? Especially for a goaltender, when you use your hands so much with the speeds that the skaters are shooting the puck, it feels as if that can be a little bit wonky and a “feel it out” basis, which Markstrom talked about in his press conference.
“Wait for it not to hurt so much. It might take a few more weeks for it to heal but you just try to play around with everything from blockers to sticks, and all that stuff, so make it feel as good as possible to be able to not think about it during the team.”
Nonetheless, Markstrom is back, and that’s the important thing. He has done a yeoman’s work so far this season, bouncing back from a significant under-performance in 2022-23. In 16 games played, he sits ninth in the entire NHL in goals saved above expected (GSAx). It’s also important to remember that if he didn’t get injured, he would be towards the top (or maybe even at the top, considering the average number of expected goals against he faces on a nightly basis) in terms of shots and expected goals against (xGA). Finally, he’s sporting a 2.94 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage, which is lower than expected.
“We’re scratching and clawing to get back into a wild card spot, and I think these last few games are going to be huge and really important. Christmas is going to be a lot more fun with a few wins.”
The Flames are trying to force their way back into a wild card spot after an atrocious start to the season, and even though Dustin Wolf and Dan Vladar held down the fort while he was missing, it’s sure good to see Markstrom back in the rotation. Hopefully, the team in front of him can continue to pull their stuff together and rack up some wins.

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