Wed, 19 Jun 2019

Flames look for boost from Giordanos return against Flyers

Sports Xchange
12 Dec 2018, 13:16 GMT+10

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Flames will get their captain back for Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Scotiabank Saddledome as they look to rebound from Sunday's 1-0 road loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

Defenseman Mark Giordano was suspended for two games for kneeing forward Mikko Koivu late in Calgary's 2-0 win at home over the Minnesota Wild last Thursday.

Subsequently, the 35-year-old veteran was forced to watch from the press box as his teammates skated to a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday at the Saddledome before losing to their provincial rivals in Edmonton the next night.

"Knowing that I couldn't play, that was the right thing to do, go watch up from up top (and) see some of the things you don't see from ice level," said Giordano, who has three goals and 26 assists in 29 games with the Flames this season.

"Obviously, you would have much rather played. Hopefully, looking back in a couple months, this is a little, few-day break that got my juice back. I'll take some rest and hopefully it'll help out in the long run."

His teammates are also hoping that Giordano will help the Flames (19-10-2) return to the form that saw them win five games in a row before losing to the Oilers.

"He's been huge for us, probably our best player this season," forward Elias Lindholm said. "He's one of the best defensemen in the league, so when you get one of those guys back it's going to help the team. He's a great leader on and off the ice as well."

Flames coach Bill Peters is also happy to have his captain back to lead the charge against the Flyers (12-13-3).

"I think he's going to be refreshed and excited about getting back out there and playing again," Peters said. "We're happy to have him back.

"It slots everybody in the right spots. Our power play looked a little out of sync without him, and now we'll get him back on that first unit and we'll get (Noah Hanifin) to the second unit. I think everything will be a little bit more familiar for those guys."

After going 2-0-1 in the first three games of December, the Flyers suffered a disappointing 7-1 road loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

Center Sean Couturier will likely make his return for the Flyers against the Flames after sitting out Philadelphia's 6-2 road win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday as well as the loss in Winnipeg the next night.

"I think it was just more cautious," Couturier said. "I probably could have played through it, but it's something that -- at this time of year -- you want to be smart with and not battle through pain, through injuries for the rest of the year. I think it was just smart to take the back-to-back off and get a few days here of skating and practice and hopefully be back (on Wednesday)."

At practice on Tuesday in Calgary, Couturier centered a line between Jakub Voracek on the right wing and Michael Raffl on the left wing.

"I'm very excited," Raffl said of getting the opportunity to move up to Philadelphia's second line. "Jakey is an unreal player to play with, so strong on the puck and he's going to find you. It's just a matter of putting the puck finally in the net there somehow. Couts, up the middle, is excellent defensively and a great all-around player, so I'm very happy."

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