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'WE DODGED A BULLET'

Captain Mark Giordano sidelined with hamstring injury, but the prognosis is a good one

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

In the end, it could've been worse.

Much worse.

But when the "good news" trickled down Thursday, Mark Giordano, the Flames and fans across Calgary could all breathe a sigh of relief.

The hamstring injury the captain suffered in Tuesday's loss to the San Jose Sharks is not as bad as initially feared.

Giordano has been placed on IR and the team will monitor his injury on a week-to-week basis. 

 

Video: "Got some encouraging news"

 

That in itself is a blow to a team in the midst of a playoff race, but his Wednesday MRI showed that surgery is not required and he will be back before the end of the season. 

"We dodged that bullet," said general manager Brad Treliving. "We'll get through this next week, take the first week off, and then monitor it. Hopefully he's back sooner rather than later, but it's certainly good news from where we were two nights ago, thinking this was something that could keep him out the rest of the year. ... Probably the best thing I can give you is probably a better sense a week from now, once we know a little bit better in terms of identifying a return date."

Giordano exited Tuesday's game after stretching out and falling awkwardly as he attempted to fire home a loose puck from a sharp angle. He isn't sure what happened to end up in that position, perhaps thinking he may have caught a rut in the ice that forced him into the splits. 

Either way, it was a freak play and certainly speaks to the rarity of a hamstring injury in hockey.

Giordano will not rush back. He maintains that he has to bring a "realistic" approach to his rehab, and only return when he's healthy and in a position to help the team again. 

 

Video: "In our mind, we dodged the big bullet"

 

"This one, there's no timeline," he said. "We're going to go day-to-day, week-to-week, but I think it's very encouraging that my season is not lost and I can get back after the rehab process."

Giordano has been incredibly durable over the course of his career. The last time he missed a game due to injury was when he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn bicep tendon late in the 2014-15 campaign.

The injury kept him out for the final 21 games, and the Flames went on to not only make the spring dance, but win a thrilling first-round matchup against the Vancouver Canucks. 

Since then, Giordano has missed only five games - three for rest, and two for a suspension. 

It goes without saying, but losing their captain for any period of time will test the Flames' depth on D. 

The reigning Norris Trophy winner is the Flames' ice-time leader (141 minutes clear of second-place Noah Hanifin), top penalty-killer, as well their heart, soul, and voice in the dressing room. 

As the recently recalled Brandon Davidson said following Thursday's morning skate: "There's no other Mark Giordano in the league."

Indeed. 

But the team has no choice but to press on, absorb the minutes and collectively bear the responsibility at both ends of the rink. 

 

Video: "There's a bunch of us who need to step it up"

 

"There's a bunch of us who need to step it up when he's gone," said Rasmus Andersson, who could see the biggest increase in ice time over the next little while. "One guy can't take over all the responsibility that Gio (has). It's a six-man unit out there right now, and all six of us need to play really well for us to cover all the ground Gio usually covers. He's such a good player - won the Norris last year - and he's dialled in, night in and night out.

"He really wants to play in the playoffs, so for us to be able to get in there, and for him to come back to play in the playoffs would obviously be really big for the team, and for him as a player."

Giordano has dealt with a hamstring injury before. This one, though, is on his right leg, and recalls the sensation of his previous injury to be far different. 

"I could feel, definitely, that it was over-stretched," he said of Tuesday's incident. "I felt kind of wobbly when I got up, too. I knew something was up. 

"Last time it was more of a pop, more of a sudden thing. This time it was a stretched feeling. ... You know sort of right away that it's something that's going to hold you out a little bit. But I'm happy that I don't have to worry about surgery or something that's going to end my season.

"A lot of thoughts go through your mind when something like that happens, but now I've got to get through the rehab. I'm going to do everything I can - I'm going to get it treated a lot, I'm going to work out hard - and hopefully I can get back quick here."

In the meantime, the show must go on.

As the Flames get set for a pivotal clash against the hard-charging Nashville Predators, the plan is to roll TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic, Noah Hanifin and Rasmus 
Andersson, and Oliver Kylington and Michael Stone on D. 

Davidson will be the odd-man out. 

It's certainly a different look than the Flames are used to, but it's also a test that could pay off in the long run. 

Either put up or shut up. 

With 28 games left, the Flames are about to get a real good look at what their team is made of.

 

Video: "For us, that's real good news"

 

"This is the players' time of year," said interim head coach Geoff Ward. "When you look at good teams, the players have taken over the room now. Not a lot has to be said, or should have to be said. The players should be excited, they should be coming to the rink every day understanding that it's going to be a hard game and looking forward to that. 

"Winners, they rise to the occasion. The proof is in the pudding all the time. 

"This opportunity for our team is good - we're going to learn a lot about it. I think it's good for us that we're playing in a race, with a lot of games left, against a lot of hard times. Last year we got ourselves in a position where we were so far in front, we kind of got off our game a little bit, and arguably, we never got it back. This is a bit of a different circumstance for us. 

"The adversity, if we treat it the right way, will make us stronger and that will make us battle-tested. That's what you need to be at this time of year if you want to be a team hanging around at the end, and this is certainly going to give us the opportunity to get some of that." 

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