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Wounded Flames nearing returns

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

That’s maybe the only time in my life I’m like ‘oh god’ just the way I was going in. Fortunately I came out with what I got. It could’ve been a lot worse than what it was.Brian McGrattan

CALGARY, AB -- It takes a lot to strike fear in Brian McGrattan.

A crash into the boards in practice last Thursday was enough to put a scare into the Calgary Flames forward, though.

Working through a one-on-one drill, McGrattan had the puck roll of his stick before catching a rut six feet from the end boards, sending the enforcer crashing hard into the wall and out of the Flames lineup for the foreseeable future.

“That’s maybe the only time in my life I’m like ‘oh god’ just the way I was going in,” McGrattan said. “Fortunately I came out with what I got. It could’ve been a lot worse than what it was.

“I felt it mainly in my upper body and everyone was asking ‘what’s wrong’ but I was winded so bad I couldn’t talk and answer them. ‘Is your neck okay? Is your head okay?’ I was like, ‘Urggh’. Once I got up and in here and moving around, the stinging pain for 20 minutes or half an hour went away I knew I was going to be okay.”

What it was, it turns out, was a shoulder injury for the 32-year-old.

Among other pains, that is.

“Mostly my shoulder,” McGrattan said. “Shoulder, head, ribs, anything on the left side of my body. I was probably better off to stand in the middle of the street and get hit by a car. It would’ve been less force. It’s pretty minor (compared to) what could’ve happened.”

A little worse for wear, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound winger missed four days of practice before rejoining teammates for Wednesday’s skate sporting a yellow non-contact jersey.

McGrattan expects to work his way back into game shape, and Calgary’s lineup in the next week.

“Aim for the next four or five days here,” he said. “Hopefully get some contact within the next two. That’s the plan.

“We had that break. I literally had one practice and 20 minutes of the other one. It was good to get out skating. I felt pretty good.”

Prior to rejoining teammates, McGrattan spent the better part of a week sharing ice with Curtis Glencross, who also resumed skating with the main group on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old has missed 22 straight games after sustaining a high ankle sprain just 37 seconds into Calgary’s 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 21. The 31-year-old has had a trying season on the injury front. He also missed 15 games earlier in the year with a second degree MCL sprain.

“My body feels pretty decent, actually,” he said. “We’ve been getting put through the ropes in the gym and all that kind of stuff but obviously it doesn’t matter how much you ride the bike and lift weights and that, it’s a little different than coming back and getting in a full practice and getting back into skating shape.”

But the winger admitted he plans to be extra cautious in making sure he’s ready to return to avoid any surprise setbacks and, as a result, has no firm timetable on when he’ll play his first game in over two months.

“We’re going to take it day-by-day,” said Glencross, who has six goals and 12 points in 21 games this season. “Obviously it’s going to be a little bit yet. I want to make sure that its right before coming back and testing it out too much. I don’t want to get into a game situation and have a setback and a tweak that there might be something more serious going down the road.

“I want to make sure and management’s been good with that in letting me know that make sure you come back when it’s ready and don’t force it. Obviously it’s nice that they’ve said that to me too and we’ll just take it day-by-day.”

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