“It feels great. Our training staff, our medical staff, everyone, the docs, they did a great job in handling it. I really followed their lead and getting back on the ice the last week and up until today, it’s pain free right now which is obviously a positive and I feel good. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow but it felt real good today.” - Mark Giordano
CALGARY, AB -- The Captain is close.
Mark Giordano joined teammates for a second straight practice and will be re-evaluated after Wednesday’s morning skate before the team will whether decide or not he’ll draw back into the lineup against the Phoenix Coyotes after missing 18 games with a broken ankle.
“It feels great," Giordano said. “Our training staff, our medical staff, everyone, the docs, they did a great job in handling it. I really followed their lead and getting back on the ice the last week and up until today, it’s pain free right now which is obviously a positive and I feel good. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow but it felt real good today.”
Giordano sustained the injury on Oct. 21st against the Los Angeles Kings and was originally expected to miss six-to-eight weeks.
Instead, he could be back in time to give the Flames a jolt against the visiting Coyotes.
“Gio looked very good and I asked him after practice and he had zero pain," coach Bob Hartley said. “He’s very close. Tomorrow, he’ll be re-evaluated by the doctor and if the medical staff gives us the green light, well, he could be a strong possibility."
Chris Butler, who was paired with Giordano for much of Tuesday’s skate, liked what he saw out of his partner.
“I think he looks great,” Butler said. “You could tell he’s extremely excited. It’s been tough for him watching. He’s a guy that really enjoys the game and enjoys being around the guys. It’s tough to see him on the sidelines and he’s been chomping at the bit. It’s exciting for him to be back out there practicing with the guys.”
Calgary is already without defenceman Dennis Wideman, who suffered a fractured hand on Nov. 27th and is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks of action. Wideman was averaging 26:14 of ice time per game before suffering the injury -- sixth in the NHL. The Flames are currently without Curtis Glencross, Sean Monahan and TJ Galiardi, too.
A Giordano return would provide an emotional boost for the Flames.
“I think it’ll bring a lot of excitement into the dressing room,” Butler said. “He’s a guy that’s such a stabilizing factor on the back end. He obviously brings tremendous leadership qualities. He’s a guy that competes every single game so to have a guy that works that hard and competes that hard, it’s a big boost for our hockey club.
“You look at the way he was playing before he got injured, he was arguably one of our best players. He was scoring, he was making plays, he was blocking shots, playing hard defensively, all the things he typically does.”
In Giordano’s absence, the Flames have gone just 5-11-2.
Seeing the team struggle through a rough November made the injury tough on the 30-year-old.
“When you’re sitting out, it’s one of those things,” Giordano said. “It sucks obviously when things aren’t going well. It sucks when things are going well and you’re not a part of it. There’s no sugar coating it. It’s tough to sit out and watch but it happens and all you can do is try to get back as soon as possible. That’s what I did.
“Our doctors and our medical staff here really did a great job. They treated it every day and took their time with it and make sure 100 per cent so I feel good today.”
How he feels Wednesday, though, will be the determining factor whether Calgary’s leader can return to lift his Flames.