He was getting tested this morning. Unfortunately I don’t have anything new. Dennis was not even here this morning. Probably this afternoon or tomorrow morning we’ll have something to tell [media]. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- The status of Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman isn’t any clearer the morning after.
Wideman left in the first period of Calgary’s 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday because of an upper body injury and did not return to the game.
A day later, Flames coach Bob Hartley couldn’t provide any clarification on Wideman’s immediate availability going forward.
“He was getting tested this morning,” Hartley said following practice Wednesday. “Unfortunately I don’t have anything new. Dennis was not even here this morning. Probably this afternoon or tomorrow morning we’ll have something to tell [media].”
Wideman collided with forward Joe Colborne in Winnipeg’s end as Michael Frolik tapped the puck by Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavalec to give Calgary a 2-0 lead at 12:48 of the first.
Hartley’s initial report wasn’t a positive one.
"It doesn't look very good," he said post-game. "The preliminary reports that we got from the medical staff are not very good, but he'll have some tests [Thursday] and we should have more news late [Thursday] or on Friday."
The injury comes with defenceman TJ Brodie doubtful to play against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Both he and forward Sam Bennett are expected to miss their third consecutive game because of upper-body injuries.
“As of now, Sam Bennett, TJ Brodie are very doubtful for tomorrow,” Hartley said. “Most likely we’re going to be very close to the same lineup as last night.
“Question mark on Dennis Wideman.”
Hartley could confirm Joni Ortio would start when the Avalanche visit Scotiabank Saddledome.
It will be Ortio’s seventh consecutive start.
He’s allowed two goals or fewer in eight of his past 11 appearances, and is 4-7-3 with a 2.87 goals against average and .902 save percentage in 15 games played this season.
“He’s getting some time and that’s important also for a goalie,” Hartley said. “Especially at that position I feel that the maturation process for a goalie is much older than a forward, for example. Then you go to the blue line where it takes a little bit more time because of responsibilities, plus liabilities also. As a goalie you’re the last line of defence. On the blue line, you only have the goalie. Up front, you can get away with more mistakes, more inexperienced mistakes than a d-man or, more importantly, a goalie.
“Joni’s doing good. He’s battling in every game. He’s gaining in experience. He’s gaining in confidence. He’s pretty good.”
Ortio won’t make an eighth straight start, though.
Niklas Backstrom, acquired with a sixth round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward David Jones at the NHL Trade Deadline, will make his debut with the Flames when Calgary starts a three-game road trip on Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens.
Backstrom hasn’t seen a second of NHL action in 14 months.
“It’s fun,” said Backstrom, whose last appearance came in getting pulled in a 7-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 13, 2015.
“Playing… that’s the most fun part about his game and you want to go out there and compete and compete against other teams but compete against yourself too to see where you are. For sure it’s fun to have a date now.”