Even when a coach expects a player to bounce back from an injury and suit up for a given playoff game, you can only take his (or the skater’s) word for it to a point.
While Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley said he expected Jiri Hudler and Micheal Ferland to play in Game 2 after leaving Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks with undisclosed injuries, some were concerned when Ferland skipped Saturday’s skate. You never know when minds may change during warm-ups, but the good news is that both took a whirl during Sunday’s morning skate, as the Calgary Sun’s Wes Gilbertson reports.
Ferland brings the sort of physical style that can be useful against the often-rugged Ducks. Hudler’s value is obvious enough: he led the team in scoring during the regular season and is a huge part of a stellar line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
That trio hopes to shake off a tough Game 1, in general. While Hudler got hurt, Gaudreau took a nasty cross-check and didn’t get a shift in the third period.
There wasn’t a lot of good news in Game 1, yet the Flames got an extra night to shake things off, and they’ve seen defensemen Raphael Diaz (game-time decision) and Mark Giordano (still likely far away from returning) at least practice this weekend.
If that 6-1 drubbing is any indication, Calgary has a long way to go to really make the Ducks sweat, but at least things seem to be trending in some positive directions.
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action …
Lightning at Canadiens, 6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
In a strange twist, some believe that Nikita Kucherov was robbed on a goal that didn’t count … and then the Montreal Canadiens may have been robbed on the Kucherov double-OT winner that did count. Michel Therrien & Co. weren’t happy with what appeared to be an offside violation on that clincher, but the bottom line is that the tired Tampa Bay Lightning managed to take a 1-0 series lead on Friday. The Habs now face a lot of pressure to even this series before in shifts to Tampa Bay. That’s a tall task, especially since some get the impression that Steven Stamkos has to break free at some point. Preview action starts at 5 p.m. ET for this one.
Wild at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Chicago Blackhawks managed to win Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild, but not without blowing a three-goal lead. With those stumbles, it’s more than fair to wonder if Chicago may have to outscore its problems through these playoffs. Considering the run Devan Dubnyk had in the regular season and during parts of the postseason, that might not be a simple task for the ‘Hawks. Many believe that this could be a long and challenging series for both sides; Minnesota could heighten those odds by stealing home-ice advantage with a Game 2 win.
Flames at Ducks, 10:00 p.m. ET on CNBC
Let’s be honest: the Anaheim Ducks outright pulverized the Calgary Flames in Game 1. Anaheim got pretty lucky in wrapping up the Winnipeg Jets in four games – they led Calgary more on Thursday than the combined times they managed leads against Winnipeg in that difficult sweep – but this could be a very advantageous situation for the Ducks. Imagine, for a moment, if the Ducks can dispatch the Flames quickly while Chicago and Minnesota duke it out in a marathon series. That could be the sort of edge Anaheim needs for a deep playoff run, yet it’s of course true that Game 1 was just one game. The early indication is that Calgary will have the likes of Jiri Hudler back despite injury scares tonight, so there’s a good chance that the Flames will give Anaheim their best shot. It should be fascinating to see if Calgary can once again beat the odds and tie this series up. Preview fun begins at 9 p.m. ET.
Mark Giordano, out since Feb. 25 with torn biceps, took part in a full team practice with the Calgary Flames on Saturday, but head coach Bob Hartley quelled the notion of a dramatic and sudden return to the lineup.
“Today, it’s a good step in the right direction but he’s still very far,” said Hartley, as per Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun.
Despite the absence of their captain, best defenseman and arguably best player in Giordano, the Flames still managed to exceed expectations by getting into the post-season.
After a victory in the first round over Vancouver, the Flames are in tough (very tough) against the Anaheim Ducks. Game 2 of that series goes Sunday.
Calgary’s GM GM Brad Treliving said at the beginning of March that his prize blue liner was done for the season as a result of the injury. On Saturday, Giordano expressed optimism with the recovery.
“I don’t know,” Giordano told ESPN. “I think overall, rehab’s gone really well so far. You can’t really put a timeline on it, you’ve got to see how you function out there and how you feel. But so far everything’s gone really smoothly. So hopefully it keeps going that way.
“We haven’t really talked about putting a date on it. It’s going to be a lot more of this stuff and ramping it up more before I can even think of playing.”
The Flames trail the Ducks 1-0 in the series, after a brutal 6-1 loss in Game 1.