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Despite loss, defence steps up in Giordano's absence

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

-- Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano took the pre-game warm up but that was all the ice he would see.

The rest of his defence stepped up in his absence but couldn't overcome the New York Islanders, dropping a 2-1 decision at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

“You know, a lot of guys played more minutes,” said goaltender Karri Ramo, who had but one blemish on 38 shots faced in the loss. “I think we succeeded pretty good. We kept moving. We were shooting it around a little bit but then we calmed down and made plays. We battled.

When Mark Giordano tells you that he can’t play, there’s not too many players in the NHL that could’ve played.Bob Hartley

“Guys battled hard. Gio is a great leader but I’m sure everyone has learned from him and everyone knows the situation and knows that there’s huge shoes to fill in this game and I think guys stepped up.”

Dennis Wideman skated to a season-high 30:24 and Kris Russell logged 28:21.

Without his regular partner in Giordano, TJ Brodie broke the 29-minute barrier.

“[Brodie] is a guy that can play all day,” Wideman said. “He doesn’t seem to ever get tired. He’s a guy we’re going to lean heavily on. When one of us are out of the lineup, he can step in and play a lot of minutes.”

The minutes were well above his season-average.

So too was the distance he skated in that time, it seemed.

“Some games are like that,” Brodie said. “There’s a lot more opportunity to jump up in the rush. Tonight was one of those games. The legs felt good. I think whenever someone goes down everyone has to step up and find that extra level in their game. Tonight I thought we played a pretty good game.”

Collectively, Calgary’s defence held up in Giordano’s absence.

“I think our team defence was pretty good,” Wideman said. “That’s a fast team that creates a lot of shots and creates a lot of chances. Defensively I thought we played pretty well. We got hemmed in a couple times in our own zone where we could’ve broke the puck out a little bit quicker but we’re not going to win too many games not scoring until the last minute of the game.

“I thought the forwards came back and played well. We gave them one goal on the power play and an empty net goal. Against a team like that, that’s pretty good defensively.”

There was a glimmer that Giordano, who sustained an upper-body injury in Calgary’s 3-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, might actually go against the Islanders.

He followed Ramo out of the tunnel and onto the ice for warm-up, but didn’t participate in any rushes and was the first Flames player off the ice.

Still, his presence meant a lot.

“He’s a guy that wants to play every night, especially with how close we are to the end of the season and the season that he’s having,” Brodie said. “It’s tough to see a guy like that out of the lineup.

“We don’t really know what’s going on as far as he’s going. It’s one of those things where we have to wait and see.”

There was a chance, however slim, Giordano might’ve played on Long Island.

He himself determined he couldn’t go.

“He wanted to try,” coach Bob Hartley said. “The medical staff was okay with this. He’s our captain. He’s a warrior. He wants to play. I think that we put him on the ice because there was a certain percentage of chance that he could be in the lineup.”

“He told me, look at me, it’s too painful. When Mark Giordano tells you that he can’t play, there’s not too many players in the NHL that could’ve played. He’s our ultimate warrior. He’s our captain. That’s the way it is.”

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