Calgary – A regulation win.
The fact is, no one in the locker room, the coach’s office or around town needs a stat like this to show Tanif’s importance to the team.
Just think how weak the Flames were defensively in last year’s division final against Edmonton when Tanyu missed the first three games before sitting out the final two with a torn labrum and a separated shoulder that nearly as many times as he did. Connor McDavid scored a walk out.
He’s not flashy, he’s not a point producer and he’s not Dion Phaneuf reincarnated when it comes to body explosions.
He is simply the best kick defense the Flames have.
The news Calgary hockey fans were bracing for came Wednesday, less than 48 hours after the 33-year-old Warrior’s Monday game with Johnny Hockey.
“Tenny will miss those two games, and if all goes well, we’ll have him back after the break,” said Daryl Suter, whose club will have nine days off after Friday’s game in Seattle. .
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“If there is a blessing in the long break, that’s it.”
Sutter then gave another blessing.
“Thankfully, he had major (shoulder) surgery last summer – he didn’t,” added Sutter, who certainly considers Tanif as a candidate to take over the club’s vacant captaincy. .
So what does the team miss when he’s not on the ice?
“Two things — he’s very good in his structure, in terms of the x’s and o’s of his game,” Sutter said.
“That’s part of his preparation – he’s very detailed.
“The other is his one-on-one play.”
It’s unmatched on a blue line full of different talents – none of whom have the complete package of Tanif.
Tanif is a calm presence off the bench and a steady and accelerating force on the ice, helping the Flames go 22-12-6 in 40 games this season.
“It’s not just the blue line, it’s your locker room,” Suter said of what he brings.
“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.”
And so, ahead of back-to-backs against Chicago and Seattle, the shuffling begins.
“Changes dramatically, when you look at it,” Sutter said of the re-jagged pairing he hopes will last just two outings.
“No one is going to replace Chris Tanif.
“Connor (Mickey) comes in and (Michael) Stone (y) plays more minutes, and Z (Nikita Zadrov) goes up a notch (to play with) Mackenzie (Vagar), who goes back to the right.
“It really affects a lot.
“The only couple that doesn’t make an impact is Noah (Hanafin) and Ross (Miss Anderson).”
“They all have to step up their game.”
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Zadorov has been something of a revelation for the Flames this year with Sutter calling him their best blueliner at times, and the player who vindicates his confidence has never been more.
He’s clearly capable of jumping into a top-four role alongside Wigger.
“I think more ice time – more responsibility,” said the big Russian of his new gig.
“Talked to Daryl and the defensive center today, and he told us that when we lose guys like Tenney, we have to bring in something extra.
“It’s defense and good positioning in the d-zone, so every guy in the d-zone has to be 5 percent better for us to be successful.”
The team spent the first half of the season trying to tighten up defensively – something the coach has clearly said is the key to second-half success.
If Tanif doesn’t return in time for the Feb. 6 restart in New York, the task will become much more difficult.
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