Talk about injury to insult. Last night the Calgary Flames lost not only a crucial game to the New York Islanders, but they also lost offensive spark plug and defensive pugilist Matthew Tkachuk to a suspected head injury.
Ouch. Talk about a double whammy.
Things started off great for the Flames yesterday as it was announced that goaltender Mike Smith would make his long awaited return to the lineup to face the Islanders. Unfortunately, that’s all the good news the Flames got yesterday. Smith looked rusty in a 5-2 loss at the Saddledome and his teammates didn’t look much better. The Islanders, who just so happen to be battling for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference much like the Flames are in the Western Conference, were buoyed by goaltender Chris Gibson who put up a remarkable 50 saves for the victory.
As for Tkachuk, the team hasn’t officially diagnosed his injury yet, but the 20-year-old winger appeared to hit his head on the ice after an awkward fall in the third period.
“We know how tough a kid he is. There have been instances this year where he’s done similar things, and he always seems to bounce right back up after,” said Smith. “So when you see him that slowly getting up, you’re obviously concerned.”
“He doesn’t stay down unless he’s hurt, so that’s what is concerning,” said Flames captain Mark Giordano. “He is one of our top players. Every night, he creates. He creates power-plays for us. He creates chances. He’s just a big part of our team, a top-six guy. So hopefully he’s OK.”
The sophomore Tkachuk is having another outstanding season with the Flames and has already bested his rookie totals from a year ago. In 68 games, the big man has 24 goals and 49 points. If he’s out for any significant length of time, the Flames’ playoff hopes could be in serious trouble. Besides being one of the team’s biggest offensive contributors, Tkachuk is one of the few Flames who brings an honest effort each and every game. His element will be sorely missed from the team’s lineup.