The Enemy: St. Louis Game Time
If disheartened Flames fans need one reason to watch tonight's contest between the Flames and Blues after Calgary was all but laid to rest following Wednesday's loss to the Anaheim Ducks, it's the return of centre Daymond Langkow. After finally being medically cleared to resume full-contact practice with the team following a series of setbacks in his recovery from a debilitating neck injury, Langkow officially re-joined the team today and will play his first game in over a calendar year tonight.
With the Flames pretty well out of the playoff race at this point in the season, Langkow's return will inevitably be more about him getting a feel for the game and his teammates again rather than him having much of any impact on the ice. Questions about whether he will be able to re-gain his form are certainly justified, and I don't think fans are expecting him to be the saviour of the Flames' season, but his return certainly won't hurt a team that has been struggling up the middle since the loss of both Brendan Morrison and David Moss, who took on a Langkow-esque role late in the season before succumbing to injury.
Langkow will start tonight's game on a line with rookies Greg Nemisz and Lance Bouma as he gets back into the swing of things, and any points he gets in the next four games are simply an added bonus, because really, it's just nice to see that he has recovered and is able to resume his career; other players who have suffered long-term injuries haven't been so fortunate. I won't judge anyone for getting a little emotional during tonight's broadcast, because I know I probably will.
Aside from #22's return, there really isn't a whole lot for Flames fans to look forward to about this game. The Blues are 3-0-1 in their past four games and are coming off a 10-3 beat-down of the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night. On top of that, they will also receive a boost tonight through the return of a couple players from injury/suspension in Barret Jackman, and T.J. Oshie. And of course there's always Jaroslav Halak, who, despite his mediocre stat line this season, can always steal a game for his team when needed. Miikka Kiprusoff will counter for the Flames as he tries to bounce back from a loss in Wednesday's outing.
This game could either put the final bullet in the Flames' season or prolong the inevitable, and at this point I'm honestly not sure which to hope for.
Enjoy the game everyone and celebrate Langkow's return in the comments. It's beyond wonderful to have him back and healthy again. Go Flames.