Injury Bug Takes a Bite Out of the Calgary Flames
Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennett / Getty Images
By: Christian Roatis (@CRoatis)
It’s hit them quick. And it’s hit them hard.
After ravishing the Edmonton Oilers with ailments – forcing eight regulars out of their line-up – the injury bug made the trip down south to Calgary. Following injuries to workhorse goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and sniper Michael Cammalleri to MCL and a Hip Flexor injuries respectively on Tuesday in Detroit, the Calgary Flames learned Friday that pivot Mikael Backlund will miss four to six weeks with a Grade Two MCL Sprain.The injury to Backlund will test the Flames’ already thin depth up the middle considerably.
Ben Street was called up from the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat and made his NHL debut for the Flames on Saturday. The trio of injured players will join young prodigy Sven Baertschi and Lance Bouma on the shelf as the Flames’ injury total rises to five.
The rash of injuries started midway through the second period in Detroit when the Red Wings Johan Franzen bumped into Miikka Kiprusoff causing him to fall back awkwardly twisting his knee. He finished the period but expressed concern to the medical staff about pain in his knee during the intermission and was pulled for the third period.
At the time the team called it “precautionary reasons” and backup goaltender Leland Irving finished the game for the Flames. Kiprusoff was officially diagnosed with a Grade One MCL Sprain on Friday and was placed on IR retroactive to February 5th. He’s eligible to return on February 13th against the Dallas Stars at the earliest.
The man who replaced Kiprusoff in the third period in Detroit and then won two nights later in Columbus, Leland Irving, will be the one relied upon in goal during Kiprusoff’s absence. He allowed three goals on 29 shots en-route to a 4-3 overtime win in Columbus on Thursday and will get the start on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks. Irving started seven games last season and posted a 1-3-3 record with a GAA of 3.20 and a SV% of .912.
Outside of the infamous 9-0 debacle in Boston, Irving played very solid and has shown much of the same through 141 minutes of action this season. Even last night in Vancouver, despite allowing five goals, Irving played extremely well making numerous highlight-reel saves and keeping the Flames in the game.
Unfortunately he was the only one who showed up to play and as a result Calgary was severely out played and thus gave up five goals.
Kiprusoff wasn’t the only casualty in Detroit, winger Mike Cammalleri injured his hip flexor during the 4-1 win. He missed the game in Columbus and was also ruled out for Saturday’s tilt with the Canucks. Cammalleri did however take the morning skate in Columbus and the expectation is he should be good to go Monday when the Flames return home to host the Minnesota Wild.
Mikael Backlund, the last of the injured trio, will be out much longer than the other two. Backlund suffered a Grade Two MCL Sprain after taking a knee on knee hit from Brandon Dubinsky of the Blue Jackets. The hit didn’t sit well with Flames fans who took to Twitter immediately after the hit and pointed out that Dubinsky probably shouldn’t have even been playing in the game. Dubinsky was fined $10 000 by NHL Disciplinary Brendan Shanahan for a hit from behind on LA Kings defender Rob Scuderi two nights prior.Many however felt that Dubinsky deserved at least a one game suspension for the hit and if he had been suspended for the game, the Backlund injury likely would’ve never occurred.
The injury comes at a terrible time for the 23 year old centerman who seemed to be finally finding his groove in the NHL after three previous lackluster campaigns. The young forward however is doing his best to stay positive and believes that the team can remain in playoff contention during his absence, tweeting this from his Twitter account (@mbacklund11):
“Thnx for all the great support #CofRed. I hope to be back ASAP and help the team making the playoffs!”
Calgary called up Coquitlam, BC native Ben Street on Friday and he made his NHL Debut Saturday night in front of friends and family playing just over 12 minutes and registering two shots on goal.
“I’m pretty excited. It’s Hockey Night In Canada and it’s Vancouver, where I’m from, so it’s just about as cool as it could possibly be,” said Street before the game. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind and I’m really excited to get going.”
Street has scored 12 goals for 31 points in 44 AHL games so far this season and is was flanked by Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler while centering the second line during his debut. Street’s future with the team is likely contingent on the health of Mike Cammalleri and should Cammalleri be ready for game action on Monday, Street would be sent back down to the AHL.