FLAMES WALKING WOUNDED
Glencross struggled to the bench after twisting his left knee in the first period against Pittsburgh while Russell also sustained an injury to his left leg late in the third. Neither returned to the game.
It’s the second time this season Glencross has been sidelined.
“He’s obviously very disappointed. So is the rest of the organization but there’s not much we can do,” coach Bob Hartley said on Sunday. “I think it’s pretty easy to say that it’s time for the 2013 year to be over for Glennie because lets go back to late last year. He missed the end of the season with a knee injury.”
The 30-year-old missed 15 games earlier this season with a second-degree sprain of his left MCL.
“I’m sure he’s probably a little deflated today if you were to ask him and talk to him,” Shane O’Brien said. “I’m sure once he gets over the initial shock of being hurt again, he’ll start doing his rehab and conditioning with (strength and conditioning coach) Rich (Hesketh) and try to get back as soon as he can.”
Just 37 seconds into his night, Glencross hit Pittsburgh rookie Olli Maatta into the end boards in the Penguins zone and fell awkwardly with his left leg under his body, retreating immediately to Calgary’s dressing room.
Russell was well into his game, logging over 20 minutes when he went down at the midway mark of the third period. The 26-year-old defenseman got trapped under Zach Sill after Flames rookie Sean Monahan gave the Penguins’ forward a shove in Calgary’s end.
It also ended Russell’s night.
“Where would we be without Kris Russell?” questioned Hartley. “Russ has been a catalyst for us on the blue line. Power play, PK, logging tons of minutes, smart decisions. When’s the last time that you can remember a bad play from Kris Russell that resulted in a goal? He’s very consistent but you look at him practice, you look at him prepare. It’s no surprise for me.
“Obviously it’s another huge loss.”
Glencross was placed on injured reserve Saturday.
Hartley didn’t have an update on the condition or timetable of either when he met with the media on Sunday.
Ladislav Smid was also missing from practice on Sunday with what Hartley called “bumps and bruises”.
“I think he’s going to be good for tomorrow,” the coach said. “Smiddy is a warrior and it’s nothing that prevents him from skating. We’ll just have to wait for tomorrow to see how the doctors and Smiddy talk it over and they’ll make a decision.”
Despite playing just 19 games for the Flames this season, Smid sits third on the team in hits (55) and fifth in blocked shots (45).
“For Laddy, he’s been good since he’s been here,” O’Brien said. “He’s a physical guy back there. He plays in guy’s faces. Hopefully Laddy will be alright and ready to go tomorrow.”
If Smid can’t go, the Flames will be missing three of their top seven leaders in ice time in Russell, Smid and Dennis Wideman, who remains out of the lineup with a broken hand.
PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITY
With Russell out and Smid questionable, the Flames recalled Derek Smith from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League on Saturday. He could draw into the lineup if Smid isn’t ready to go.
Regardless, there will be plenty of opportunity for Smith, O’Brien and Christopher Breen to see an increased workload on the back end.
“It’s obviously unfortunate when guys go down and especially guys like that that play big minutes and are a big part of our team,” Smith said. “For someone like me and guys like OB and Breener, it’s an opportunity to step up and play bigger roles on this team.”
It’s the only positive out of an otherwise negative situation, Hartley admitted.
“It is always an opportunity,” he said. “It opens the doors. You get extra ice time, extra responsibilities. You get a chance to get a jersey and to keep it. Injuries, there’s always negatives but the positives is it gives extra ice time to other players.”
O’Brien, who is averaging 10:36 of action per game in 32 games, realizes more ice is coming his way.
“You might get a little bit more ice time so just take advantage of it,” he said. “There aren’t many teams in the league right now that don’t have any injuries. Guys have to step up. You rely on your depth players to step up when things happen like this.”
Breen will be the first to receive a chance. Hartley confirmed the 6-foot-7 defenceman will play in just his fourth game of the season.
“He’s a great guy. He’s going to be playing tomorrow. For him, he doesn’t have much experience at the NHL level so those are big auditions for him because we have to make some quick decisions. That’s the unfortunate part over here, especially when we’re dealing with a defenceman of 24, 25 years old. We need to make decisions and the best way to make decisions is to put him on the ice but the way that our six other defensemen have been playing in the past weeks, it was tough to open the door and to create a spot. Now with Kris Russel’s injury, it’s going to be a battle between Breener and Smitty to get ice time.”
-Hartley on Breen
The Flames welcome back Jay Bouwmeester as Calgary hosts the St. Louis Blues (6 p.m. MT, SNET-Flames) in the first of five straight on Scotiabank Saddledome ice.
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