Hudler set to return to Flames’ lineup after missing seven games
Veteran will be a key figure in local NHL squad’s mission to finish season strong
Defenceman Dennis Wideman, divulged Bob Hartley on Thursday, “is shut down right now. It doesn’t very good for Wides until the end of the season.”
Winger David Jones could play a couple before the curtain drops on April 13th.
Rookie Markus Granlund has a chance to get in a few more than that.
On a positive note, goaltender Karri Ramo is healthy again but won’t be dressing Friday, which means Joey MacDonald sticks around for a least another day.
The most encouraging injury news to emerge for the Calgary Flames?
Jiri Hudler’s lower body injury (read: groin) that’s kept him out of the last seven games has healed up. So the team’s leading scorer at 44 points returns this evening against Nashville. He practised Thursday on a line with Matt Stajan and Curtis Glencross.
The slick Czech winger was hurt tumbling awkwardly into the Scotiabank Saddledome boards during a game against the Ottawa Senators on March 5th.
“Did I?” teased Hudler, when informed that he looked pretty good during Thursday’s workout.
“I feel good. I think I’m in tomorrow. So it’s good to be back. I skated with Bob the last couple days. It wasn’t fun but it helped to get me back quicker. I don’t think I’ve lost condition. I’ve been working out.
“We’re out of playoffs right now. So it’s hard, these last 13 games. There’s a lot of guys trying to do things right, so we’ve gotta finish strong.”
He shrugged off the significance of continuing a fine personal season that has seen him put up the highest points-per-game number of his NHL career.
“I thought we were gonna be a playoff team,” he said. “That was the plan.”
For Hartley, getting Hudler back on the ice is a boon as the coach endeavours to keep his group pushing through the final stages of another non-playoff season. His group certainly hasn’t lacked for belief or effort. What it has lacked, though, is that decisive moment of technical class that a Hudler can provide.
“That’s what we’re seeing from our injured guys,” said the boss. “They want to get back. To see a Jiri Hudler . . . I skated two or three days ago with him, alone in the morning. He worked unbelievably hard. I could feel that he wanted to play. Then the medical staff cleared him. At this time of the year, for a team out of the playoffs it would be so easy for veterans to tell the medical staff ‘Ahhhhh, I’m not quite ready . . .’ and just unplug.
“We don’t see this. And that’s a credit to our players.”
ICE CHIPS . . . Nashville defenceman Shea Weber is still one of the league’s top point-producing defenceman with 31 points (nine goals and 22 assists) in 39 games since Dec. 12 . . . He surpassed the 40-point mark for the fifth consecutive full season . . . Nashville has the youngest defence corps in the NHL (24.02 years) . . . The Preds have not allowed a short-handed goal since March 21, 2013 vs. Calgary (which scored two short-handed) — a span of 87 games — and is the only team in the NHL to have not allowed a short-handed goal this season.
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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