The Calgary Flames have had to endure a host of injuries during this NHL season, but none hurt more than the loss of captain Mark Giordano. The team’s No.1 defenseman returned to the lineup after missing 18 games because of a broken ankle and was a key contributor in the Flames’ 4-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. Giordano, who suffered the injury in a game against the Los Angeles Kings, didn’t miss a beat in his return as he played over 20 minutes and contributed a goal and added an assist in the victory.
Giordano can be counted on for a high compete level and contributes in all areas such as shot-blocking, physicality and offensively. He had been logging over 25 minutes of ice-time per game prior to the injury. Giordano’s absence was definitely noticeable as the Flames were able to secure only five wins in the 18 contests that he missed.
The game against Phoenix actually saw a sluggish start from the home side, but the momentum changed on a goal by Calgary defenseman T.J. Brodie with less than eight seconds to go in the first period that tied things at one. Brodie continued his strong play by adding an assist as well in nearly 27 minutes of playing time. Encouraging signs included Mikael Backlund netting the game-winner with just his third goal of the season, and it was another strong night for goaltender Karri Ramo who turned aside 29-of-30 shots to record the win. It was the second straight start where he had allowed only one goal.
The Flames have now won back-to-back games for the first time since October 11 in improving to 10-13-4 on the season. Having their captain back to help anchor the blue-line is definitely a positive development. It will likely continue to be a rough ride for the club in a very difficult Western Conference, but you can bank on Giordano to lead by the example he sets on the ice on a nightly basis.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports