The Calgary Flames hope a returning veteran and a pair of rookies will ease the absence of workhorse Mark Giordano.
Cory Sarich will draw into the lineup in place of the injured Giordano, who suffered a hamstring injury in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory against the Nashville Predators.
“You don’t replace a guy like that but what you do is, the workload has to be spread around,” coach Brent Sutter said. “A guy like Cory has to come into the lineup and give us some quality minutes.”
Sarich, who has been a healthy scratch for the last four games and nine of the last 11, is hoping to burn some pent-up energy on the Blue Jackets.
“Take out some frustration on the opponent, that’s usually a good idea, a good way to get into the game,” Sarich said. “I’m just looking forward to helping, contributing. It’s hard to do that from the sidelines. Tonight’s my chance. It’s no fun sitting and watching, so when you have a chance to get out there and give’r, you try to make the most of it.”
The club will also lean on rookies T.J. Brodie and Derek Smith to help carry the load in the absence of Giordano, who has averaged 22:10 of ice time this season.
“Those guys have done a tremendous job when Gio was here and even the other night they filled in extremely well and logged a lot of minutes for us,” defenseman Chris Butler said, sporting eight stitches to his cheek after taking a puck to the face against the Predators. “They’re playing great hockey for us.”
Smith, who played a season-high 22:33 against Nashville, is ready to soak up the minutes after Tuesday’s experience.
“The minutes went up a lot,” Smith said. “Me and T.J. weren’t used to playing those minutes. It worked out well for us and hopefully the increased role will help us tonight too.”
Injuries have ravaged the Flames blue line this season.
Giordano joins Anton Babchuk (hand) on the injured reserve, while Brett Carson is close to returning from an offseason back injury. Carson has been assigned to the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL on a conditioning stint.