CALGARY, AB -- He's back.
After missing eight games with a fractured finger, Troy Brouwer has been cleared to play and will be in the lineup this evening when the Calgary Flames take on the New Jersey Devils.
"It feels good," Brouwer said. "When I was out with the injury, we were predicting about four weeks or so, give or take, so to be able to be back in about two and a half weeks ... everything kind of went exactly how it needed to for me to be able to come back this early."
Brouwer's finger was broken on Dec. 23 when he was hit by a clearing attempt by linemate Kris Versteeg. The pair will be reunited this evening, with Sean Monahan centering the wingers.
"He stays on his side of the ice, I'll stay on mine and we should be alright," Brouwer chuckled when asked about Versteeg.
"We had some good familiarity before I got injured and hopefully it comes back quick. Now it's just making sure I get up to game speed right away and we should be alright."
The fracture was one of the most serious injuries Brouwer has faced in his career and the recovery process, while faster than he expected, was extremely trying for the veteran.
"It's been no fun, to be honest," he stated. "Whenever you're watching the guys, you want to be out there. I've heard the broadcasters say it quite a few times - it's more stressful not playing than playing because you can't do anything about it.
"Some of those tight games, you find yourself cringing and changing positions in your seat a lot. Hopefully now that I'm back out on the ice, I can have a say in what happens out there and just play."
With the Flames holding onto the first Wildcard spot in the Western Conference and how tight the Pacific Division is, the pressure intensifies with every game played.
General manager Brad Treliving has noted on more than one occasion that one of the reasons the team acquired Brouwer as a free agent last summer was to add a veteran presence who can elevate his game at key times.
Being able to get Brouwer back at this point in the schedule is a boon for head coach Glen Gulutzan.
"We went after Troy obviously for the physical attributes and the player he (is) but also the leadership qualities and the big game performances he's had," Gulutzan said. "This time of the season is where you really rely on your veteran players."
"I pride myself on these situations and I feel I play my best hockey at this time of the year," Brouwer added. "I want to make an impact with this team going forward."
In 36 games this season, Brouwer has scored eight goals and 17 points.
While the Flames will have Brouwer's services available to them this evening, they will be without Micheal Ferland in tonight's game.
Ferland left Wednesday's game with a lower body injury and did not skate today. He is day-to-day with his malady.
"With Ferly being out, it hurts us," Gulutzan noted. "We lose a physical presence in our lineup and to get Brouw back is going to help fill that void."