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Flames prepare for life without Gaudreau

Johnny Gaudreau will undergo surgery to repair a broken finger and will be out of the lineup for an undisclosed about of time

by Jason Johnson @Jay__Jo / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames will have to look for other ways to produce offence.

With the news on Wednesday that their star forward, Johnny Gaudreau, will have surgery to repair a broken finger as a result of some creative stick work by the Minnesota Wild a night earlier, Calgary will need to lean on the rest of the lineup to make up for the loss of a player that generates scoring chances on a nightly basis.

It's unknown how long the Flames will be without Gaudreau's services.

Gaudreau scored Calgary's lone goal in a 1-0 triumph over the Wild on Tuesday. Last Thursday he scored the Flames' two goals in a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars.

After a slow start to the 2016-17 campaign, Gaudreau was just starting to heat up.

"It's a big piece of our lineup and our team and I felt like Johnny was going out there and getting his game where it needed to be," Flames' captain Mark Giordano said. "It's a tough blow but we've been through this before and we have to rally as a team and use this as motivation somehow."

Giordano would know.

The Flames' blueliner suffered a torn biceps tendon on Feb. 25, 2015, right when Calgary was in the thick of a heated playoff race and having himself a Norris Trophy-esque season.

It was a big blow for the Flames at the time and doom-and-gloom among the fan base. Fans and media questioned whether or not Calgary could survive such a significant loss to their lineup at such a critical time of the season.

Not to say the Giordano was missed, but in the aftermath, the Flames went 12-6-3 down the stretch without their captain and qualified for a playoff spot for the first time in six seasons. 

They even won a playoff round.

"I think our mindset can't change," Giordano said. "One guy going in and out of the lineup. I've been on both sides, I've been the guy who has been out and been hurt a little bit.

"For Johnny, it's going to be tough to get through it but we'll get him back. As a team, we've got to keep playing the same way. Keep grinding it out and I thought last night was a start in the right direction and we've got to keep that going."

For Deryk Engelland, the Giordano injury of 2015 opened the door for a bigger role.

"We can definitely reflect on that, Gio going down," Engelland said. "Myself, I got a lot more minutes then. Guys have to step up, fill that hole and run with it while they can.

"Every guy in the room as got to pick it up just that little bit more to fill that hole. I think the guys in the room are capable of doing that. I think if we play the same way we did last night and be comfortable in a one-goal game and moving forward I think we'll be alright."

Gaudreau leads the Flames in scoring this season with five goals and 11 points in 17 games. Not quite the same scoring pace the 23-year-old had in the past two seasons, but still a big chunk of their offence for a team that has struggled to find the scoresheet at times.

The Flames sit 21st in the NHL with 39 goals meaning Gaudreau has been in on over 28-percent of Calgary's team offence.

"He is a big part of it," said Troy Brouwer, who has four goals and seven points in 17 games this season. "Everyone always says that guys around the room need to step up but I always say that guys need to play solid, they need to play their game.

"Nobody needs to try to be Johnny because that's what is going to get us into trouble. We've got to find a way to subsidize that offence somewhow, which is keeping it simple, making sure guys stay within their game and things will come. We've had some games where we've been real defensive creating our opportunities that way and nothing changes now."

Linden Vey, who was recalled from the Stockton Heat on Nov. 10, will step into the lineup tonight against the visiting Arizona Coyotes. The former Vancouver Canucks collected three goals and nine points in eight games while skating with the AHL squad this season.

Obviously, Vey isn't going to replace the offence Gaudreau supplied, but Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said the scoring is going to have to come in different ways.

"We're not the first team or the last to lose a star play and have to find a way to manufacture wins," Gulutzan said. "When you take an offensive guy out of the lineup you have to solidify the way you play defensively as a group.

"In this league when you play better defensively you get more opportunities ... it's just the way it works."

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