Tanev's return to lineup could help push Flames playoff hopes over the top

Apr 4 2023, 7:02 pm

A return to the lineup for rugged, veteran defenceman Chris Tanev couldn’t have come at a better time for the Calgary Flames.

Tanev, who has missed six straight games because of an upper-body injury, will be a player-posed game-time decision when the Flames host the Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Saddledome — their fifth-last skate of the season.

In other words, bet on him being back.

“It sucks coming in and out. I think this is my fourth time now,” Tanev told media Tuesday. “Obviously I’d like to play in every game and it hasn’t happened this year. It sucks watching hockey games, for sure, but I’m glad to be out there with the guys today and I feel pretty good.”

In all, the 33-year-old has skated in 61 of 77 games for the Flames this season, missing time in November, December, and January before being out from March 21 to April 2 with his latest ailment.

It’s been a trying season, no doubt.

“I think it’s tougher to watch than play,” said Tanev, who also missed time in last year’s playoffs after reportedly playing through a torn labrum, a separated shoulder, and a sprained neck.

“I think when you get all the momentum changes and lead changes that have happened in the last few games, it’s definitely a rollercoaster to watch but it’s been incredible to see how much perseverance, how much resilience the guys have showed and just continuing to work and stick with the process, no matter what happens on any given play, any given shift.”

Tanev will return in the thick of the hunt.

His Calgary club sits two back of the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference thanks, in part, to a season-long four-game winning streak.

The two teams meet Wednesday in Winnipeg, amplifying the importance of the Tuesday return of what many regard as the Flames’ best defensive rearguard.

“It obviously sucks watching but it’s great watching us win,” Tanev said. “You’d like to be out there but it’s the next best thing is that we’re winning games. Had a couple heart attacks watching a few of them, but the guys have been doing great. I mean, they’re working their butts off and doing everything that it takes to win these games.

“Everyone knows how important they are.”

Ditto for Tanev.

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