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Giordano to return to Flames' lineup

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Calgary's captain is set to return.

The Calgary Flames will have defenseman Mark Giordano back in the lineup when they host the Phoenix Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

"He'll be in the lineup," coach Bob Hartley said. "When you wear the 'C' not only are you a great player but you're a special person. Our best leader is coming back to our group and we're going to play him."

Giordano has missed the past 18 games with a broken ankle sustained in a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 21. He had seven assists and nine points in eight games and was averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game before the injury.

The Flames went 5-11-2 in Giordano's absence.

Needless to say, he's happy to be back.

"It feels good," Giordano said. "It [stinks] sitting out. There's no other way around it. I'm pretty excited to get back and get those first couple of shifts out of the way."

Giordano returned to the ice with solo skates in late November. He joined the Flames for his first full skate Saturday in Los Angeles before participating in another session Tuesday.

Giordano didn't think his conditioning would be a concern.

"I think I'll be fine," he said. "I think I felt pretty good in the past couple of practices. You've got to get into games to know how you're really going to feel, but I've been working pretty hard with Rich [Hesketh, strength and conditioning coach]. It should be OK."

Hartley said he will monitor how much action Giordano sees in his return.

"We're going to communicate during the game," Hartley said. "We're going to see how he feels. He's worked tremendously hard. His conditioning should be great. Working in the gym and playing at the NHL level, there's always a difference in both, but we'll have to wait and see how the game goes."

Giordano's return isn’t the only bit of good news the Flames received Wednesday.

Sean Monahan, who will miss his third straight game with a hairline foot fracture, is making progress.

"I tried a little skate this morning and my foot's getting a lot better, so I think it's going well," said Monahan, who is listed as week-to-week. "I'm just taking it day by day and it's getting a lot better. It's probably almost 100 times better than it was. It's feeling good and I'm just taking it day by day."

Calgary will get Monahan back soon. Canada's World Junior team will not, however.

The Flames opted not to make Monahan available to Canada for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"It's a loss with him out of the lineup right now with an injury, so certainly the idea that we'd just release him to go play in the tournament and miss him for six or seven games, that's just something we're not prepared to do," general manager Jay Feaster said Tuesday.

"We spent a lot of time talking about it and we looked at a lot of different things. Obviously it's a tremendous opportunity for a player to be on an international stage, obviously the pressure of representing Canada, and that's a good thing.

"At the same time, there's pressure being a member of the Calgary Flames hockey club and playing in front of our fans and trying to win games in the National Hockey League."

The 19-year-old called the decision a confidence boost.

"It's a good feeling," Monahan said. "I want to play in the NHL. That was my goal this summer and that happened. For them to want to keep me here, it gives me a little bit of confidence. Obviously it would've been an honor to wear the Canadian jersey and something I'd like to do, but that decision's not up to me and I'm happy with what happened."

Though Monahan won't be back against the Coyotes, here is how they and the Flames might line up Wednesday:


Mike Cammalleri - Matt Stajan - Lee Stempniak

Jiri Hudler - Mikael Backlund - David Jones

Sven Baertschi - Joe Colborne - Blair Jones

Lance Bouma - Paul Byron - Brian McGrattan

Kris Russell - TJ Brodie

Mark Giordano - Chris Butler

Ladislav Smid - Shane O'Brien

Karri Ramo

Reto Berra

Scratched: Max Reinhart, Christopher Breen, Derek Smith

Injured: Sean Monahan (foot), Curtis Glencross (knee), TJ Galiardi (back), Dennis Wideman (hand)


Shane Doan - Mike Ribeiro - David Moss

Tim Kennedy - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata

Rob Klinkhammer - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker

Kyle Chipchura - Jeff Halpern - Jordan Szwarz

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone

Keith Yandle - Connor Murphy

David Schlemko - Derek Morris

Thomas Greiss

Mike Smith

Scratched: Paul Bissonnette, David Rundblad

Injured: Zbynek Michalek (lower body), Lauri Korpikoski (upper body)

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