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Flames’ Tanev Thankful For Recovery After Incident

The Calgary Flames defence is still a work in progress but the return of Chris Tanev is a positive sign.



The Calgary Flames forwards seem to have found their balance. 

Dillon Dube on the top line has allowed Jonathan Huberdeau to flash some chemistry with Nazem Kadri. Even Milan Lucic looked like a stud for a night. Trevor Lewis keeps scoring, and last season's best playoff trio of Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane did everything except score on Tuesday night's second straight win over the San Jose Sharks

The defence, though. Well, that's still giving Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter some pause. 

“Our defence is a work in progress," Sutter said of the return of Chris Tanev, who returned to action on Tuesday after a week on IR. 

"You put Tanny in there, it gives you some stability. I think Weegs (MacKenzie Weegar) … he’s a really good player for us, so that’s a really good partner for him. Noah (Hanifin) and Ras (Rasmus Andersson) play a lot of minutes. They’re still learning as they go, but they give it everything they got."

Those are the top four guys. 

"Then it’s a…" Sutter paused as he tried to think of the best words to use in public. "It's a challenge."

Without Oliver Kylington, who paired up with Tanev for a cereer season last year but is dealing with family issues overseas and has no known timetable for return, the Calgary Flames blueline has definitely been a work in progress. The top guys have had to play a lot of minutes at times with Tanev missing time with a couple of different injuries. Michael Stone made the team out of camp as a PTO player but isn't exactly someone Sutter gushes about. Nikita Zadorov was arguably their best defender earlier in the season but he's not been as effective in the bottom pairing and seems to be struggling a bit now. 

Connor Mackey has shown some signs of growth and scored his first two goals of the year in the same game, but also coughed up a puck to let the momentum of his scores slip away in that loss — which is worse than not scoring when you play for Sutter. 

Nick DeSimone is up from the AHL at the moment, as is Dennis Gilbert — who was hurt in a fight in San Jose earlier this week. But neither of them are consistent enough to play the minutes needed to balance out the back end.

The linchpin, though, is Tanev. 

His return from a scary incident where he got hit in the head by a slapshot in Montreal was a welcome sight in San Jose. 

"Felt good to be back out there and playing and having fun and doing what I love," Tanev said after playing more than 21 minutes in the second game in San Jose. 

"It's awesome to be back at it. Huge thanks to our trainers, and Doc Thorne and Doc Auld and then the doctors in Montreal. They were awesome and sort of made sure I didn't have any serious stuff wrong with my neck and brain and made sure I was able to travel safely and things like that. 

"So, I mean, can't thank them enough. To be back after sort of going through a few days (off) and then going through the protocol, it's something that I'm grateful for and happy for. I mean, I know sometimes it can take a lot longer than that so for it to be just over a week is something that I'm grateful, thankful and happy to be out there." 

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