As COVID-19 moves the roster, the Flames are preparing to return with health on their side

Shortly after their second skate in just over two weeks, Darryl Sutter declared his club as healthy as it has been since training camp.

With Dan Vladar’s return on Monday, all 20 Calgary Flames who tested positive for COVID-19 before Christmas are now back on track.

Aside from a few days of flu-like symptoms experienced by part of the team, the players have come through the team shutdown well-rested, energetic and healed from many of the shocks and bruises that accumulated the first two months.

No more obstacles.

No excuses.

After reviewing what the organization did to miss its last seven matches, one would hardly call them the envy of the league.

But given how things have gone together since then, it’s fair to wonder if the Flames will have an advantage on most teams when the NHL returns to play.

“I want to say yes,” said Matthew Tkachuk, one of the team’s three players who was not put on the sidelines by the Omicron variant. “Most of our guys have (tested positive) so we do not have to worry too much about it, while other teams might come in every day and not know what can happen to certain guys and maybe have a week or two. fri., starts now.

“For us to have a full list, I think it can help us, of course. It’s also more of a mental thing.”

As the Flames get steam with their second of four-straight practices this week, more and more players around the league are continuing to be added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

On Monday, the league announced the postponement of three more upcoming games, further questioning whether the Flames will actually fly to Seattle on Wednesday to return to play on Thursday.

If they do, it would be a random start given the extended training time it provides and the relative weakness of the opponent.

Rested but rusty, the Flames do not have to fit in with taxi team players and callups, as many of their opponents will, as the Covid damage to the Flames theoretically lies behind them.

“I hope so,” said Chris Tanev, who said the extent of the COVID-19 damage to him was a day and a half with flu-like symptoms. “It’s clear that it’s a very fluid situation in the league. Not all teams have experienced what we have, so hopefully there are not many more cases popping up. We just have to be ready to play.

“I’m sure (the schedule) will change over the next week or two.”

Editor’s note:The COVID-19 situation, in the NHL and around the world, is constantly evolving. Readers in Canada can consult the country’s public health website recently.

Tkachuk was even more optimistic that the Covid concerns that have been piling up on his team since Dec. 11 are a thing of the past.

Well, at least for this variant.

“For our team, yes, probably,” said Tkachuk, who had previously tested positive for Covid two summers ago. “But of course we are not the only team in the league. It is clear that other teams have updates every day. It happens for a few other teams. That is probably how it will be the next little while.”

Sutter is not so convinced and goes so far as to suggest that because players are double- and triple-vaccinated, he believes the league’s re-implementation of taxi teams will mean the virus is not “going to affect our league anymore.”

Wishful thinking.

Many teams will definitely be forced to play without regular players, a problem that the Flames do not have to worry about themselves.

“To be honest, the big thing with us is that we’re probably healthier than ever since the last showdown,” said Sutter, whose team now has Brett Ritchie (concussion) on skates again, leaving only Tyler Pitlick out due of an injury. “I think the boys look fresh and they’ve got some energy in their training, which is good.

“I do not think (any rust) is related to the virus. I do not think it affected any of us. It’s just free time. When you get through the next three days, you look for good execution and pace in the game., the same things you say when you come out of training camp. “

Given how well the Flames started this year, there is plenty of reason to believe they can repeat that success again in their restart.

The last time we saw the Flames in action, the club was on a four-game losing streak limited by a home loss to Boston on December 11th.

The next day, the positive tests began to roll in, eventually putting 33 players and staff on the sidelines.

They have endured.

Now they are preparing for a return that they are unsure will happen as early as Thursday.

“Very hard,” Tkachuk said when asked how difficult it is to have the schedule in the air. “It’s only been two weeks and a day, but it feels a lot longer than that, I can tell you that.”

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