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Tanev Out: Break In Flames Schedule Comes At Ideal Time

Calgary Flames defenceman Chris Tanev to miss next two games with upper-body injury ahead of nine days off for the NHL bye week and all-star break.



The upcoming break couldn’t come at a better time for the Calgary Flames. 

It’s not always ideal to stop a team that’s playing well — and despite the ‘eye test,’ the Flames’ stretch since mid-December suggests they have been — but having nearly two weeks of rest for one of the team’s most important players to heal is huge. 

Chris Tanev isn’t a flashy fella. The Calgary Flames stalwart shut-down defenceman who was injured in Monday's win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Johnny Gaudreau's return, doesn’t show up on highlight reels very often. His game is subtle but substantial. 

When he went down during the first round of last year’s playoffs against the Dallas Stars, things went off the rails for the Flames. They squeaked past the Stars on Johnny Gaudreau’s seeing-eye Game 7 overtime winner, then floundered against the Edmonton Oilers in a post-season Battle of Alberta that flopped after a wait that lasted more than three decades. 

More than just one element of their game went awry for the Flames. But you can bet a healthy Tanev would have made things more challenging for Connor McDavid and Co. He’s the foundation for a team that checks for chances and depends on defence. 

His durability, though, is in question. 

Not his toughness. Never that. But another shoulder injury will keep the 33-year-old out for at least these last two games before the Calgary Flames enjoy their bye week and the all-star break. 

“If there’s a blessing in a having a long break, that’s it,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter told members of the media on Wednesday, adding that it wasn’t something considered as serious as Tanev’s surgery inducing injury against the Stars last summer. 

“If everything goes well, we’ll get him back after the break.”

That’s good news for a team that has a 1-4-3 record without Tanev this season as the battle-scarred veteran continues to get beat up


More pressure lands on Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson. They are still growing and have not historically fared as well without Tanev and whoever he’s partnered with taking some of the matchup pressure off them. 

Nikita Zadorov is forced into major minutes, as is MacKenzie Weeger, and the top four can quickly tire over time. 

And the pairing of Connor Mackey and Michael Stone can only be described as adventurous. Individually, they’re capable of providing some solid minutes as the sixth man. Can they do it for an extended period of time as a pairing? 

Not so far. 

And there’s also the more intangible loss the Calgary Flames will feel for whatever duration their defensive leader is out of action. 

“It’s not just the blueline, it’s your locker-room,” Sutter said, referencing Tanev’s leadership skills. 

“Every coach has a handful of guys that you know you don’t have to react (to situations) because those guys will take care of it.”

Hopefully the next dozen days will take care of whatever’s ailing Tanev. 

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