Matthew Tkachuk & the Flames welcomed the Arizona Coyotes to the Dome last night.
Timetable to return still unclear for defenceman MICHAEL STONE
The initial symptoms seemed innocent enough.
“I woke up that morning feeling not-so-good, almost like I slept funny on my arm,” recalled Calgary Flames defenceman Michael Stone. “We did the pre-game skate, and I could hardly shoot. I mean, it hurt, but nothing that was a big red flag or anything like that. But I worked out later, and my arm got really swollen and kind of purple-y.
“So we went the next morning, and that’s when they found the clot.”
That was back in late November, and Stone has been sidelined by that blood clot ever since.
On Sunday, with his former team — the Arizona Coyotes — in town to clash with his current crew, the 28-year-old rearguard missed his 25th consecutive contest on injured reserve.
“It’s been hard, especially to have it in the middle of the season,” Stone acknowledged. “For the first little bit, I didn’t feel normal. But now, I’ve been feeling normal for quite a while.
“So it’s been difficult. But what has helped is at least I can skate. If wasn’t skating and I was just sitting around, I think that would have been worse.”
There is still no timetable for Stone’s return to action … or even to practice with his pals.
Because he is still on blood-thinners, he simply can’t risk being clipped by a stick or a puck or anything else that might open him up.
Stone is slated for another check-up this week. As he summed up, “It’s a waiting game for me, it really is.”
Until that blood clot is gone, he’ll be skating separately with Juuso Valimaki — the rookie is recovering from a high-ankle sprain — and watching his Pacific Division-leading team from either the press-box at the Saddledome or from the comfort of his couch when they’re on the road.
“I watch the games just like you watch the games — I see that we haven’t played our best hockey recently, but we find ways to win,” Stone said prior to Sunday’s battle between the Flames and Coyotes. “For me, I’ve been up in the press-box and I’ll see things are maybe not going well, but then we turn it around and it’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re coming now. We’re going to win this hockey game.’ That’s how every game feels.
“So it’s been fun. It would be a lot more fun if I was a part of it, but … ”
While he waits for the allclear from doctors, Stone was able to enjoy some bonus time with his wife and kids over the holidays and has been busy with the Flames’ skating instructor and also working on the sort of development drills that you can’t often squeeze in during the grind of the 82-game slate.
Although No. 26 was operating as Calgary’s seventh defenceman before the blood clot was discovered, a could-be contender can never too much blue-line depth — especially of the veteran variety — as the playoffs near.
“Hopefully, I come back and I can contribute and be a part of it,” Stone said. “Hopefully the work that I’ve put in skating-wise and skills-wise and stuff like that, you can see some of the benefits of it. That’s the goal.
“Hopefully, at the end of the day, it works out.”
AROUND THE BOARDS
It was another milestone night for Calgary’s captain, Mark Giordano, who hit the 800-game plateau in Sunday’s date with the Desert Dogs. The 35-year-old is one of just four guys to log that many appearances in the Flaming C — fellow defencemen Al MacInnis (803 GP) and Robyn Regehr (826 GP) and iconic right-winger Jarome Iginla (1,219 GP) are the others. “I just try not to take it for granted,” Giordano said after Sunday’s morning skate. “I want to play for a long time still. I have a lot of years left, in my mind, and I want to keep playing, keep staying fresh” … Flames defenceman Travis Hamonic was a surprise scratch against the Coyotes due to a family illness … Down on the farm, Stockton Heat winger Buddy Robinson has stretched his personal point-spree to 10 straight games. The 27-yearold Robinson, a longtime friend and former highschool teammate of Flames’ all-star Johnny Gaudreau, was called up to Calgary shortly before the Christmas break but didn’t get in the lineup.