The Calgary Flames need Chris Tanev’s injury to not be serious and his return to be linear

Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
1 year ago
The Calgary Flames’ defence core has been fun to follow ever since I joined the team here at FlamesNation. I knew it was very solid, and my first piece of writing about the team was on Nikita Zadorov. Well, now that I’ve also written about MacKenzie Weegar, why not touch on a third defenceman, and one that’s been just as impactful, if not more than Weegar?
Chris Tanev has been the backbone of this Calgary defence core since joining the team in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. His defensive numbers have always been some of the best on the team and even across the NHL. This year, he’s started to generate some offence. His expected goal numbers are very strong, although his box score offensive output doesn’t necessarily reflect that, as he’s only scored 13 points in 61 games. Below is his regularized adjusted plus-minus chart to give you a more full sense of just how valuable he has been on both ends of the ice in 2022-23.
And here it is over a three-year sample. It’s pretty comical just how good Tanev has been defensively. I didn’t even think it was this excellent.
So, if you didn’t know before, now you do; the Flames without Tanev are a much, much worse team.
Before their recent match-up (and eventual win) against the Anaheim Ducks, the Flames announced that Tanev would be out of the lineup due to an upper-body injury. Something that stood out to me on the broadcast (and continues to reinforce how much of an impact Tanev has on the team’s ability to win) was the record that the team has with Tanev in the lineup versus games without him. The Flames have a record of 3-5-3 without him, but with him, they possess a record of 105-68-26, an almost 60% points percentage.
The sample size is much smaller (clearly), but it goes to show the magnitude a player with the ability of Tanev can have on the back-end, especially on a Darryl Sutter team focused on defence-first.
This being said, it’s coming down to the wire for Calgary. They have 10 games remaining, with three coming against teams that currently hold playoff spots, including one against the Winnipeg Jets, who they are fighting against for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. So luckily for them, their schedule is forgiving. However, those games against playoff teams will be extra important if they want to make the playoffs.
Suffice it to say; the Flames have to hope that this injury to Tanev is nothing serious and his return can be linear. He’s been one of their best performers all season despite missing some time due to shoulder injuries (which this one may be), and to lose him down this do-or-die stretch would be killer. He’s an invaluable piece to the Flames’ defence, and a diagnosis of “day-to-day” or even a return to the lineup against the Vegas Golden Knights are the best outcomes in this scenario. But, it’s also important he gets back to the top of his game, otherwise, it may not be worth it in the end if he’s a liability in the final few games and even the postseason.
There are many choices to be made by the coaching staff and management, and dealing with this Tanev injury is one of them. We should have an update sooner rather than later on the defenceman’s status, but one thing is for certain: an extended period without him could be a huge problem.

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