Lombardi's shoulder passes first test

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

Matthew Lombardi's shoulder was tested in his return.

He took a hit along the wall from Andreas Lilja on one of his first shifts, and felt no ill-effects.

"Nothing to report that way," said Lombardi, who was raring to go after a month off.

"I felt good. I had some good practices and felt I was ready to get back in there.

"I took some bumps and it felt good."

It probably didn't feel as good for fellow centre Dustin Boyd, who played a season low 9:40 as Lombardi took his spot on the second line for most of the night.

Lombardi played 13:17, and didn't look too bad considering the lengthy layoff.

"It is long," he said of the 13 games he missed. "The good thing was I was able to skate and get out there and work my legs, having it be upper-body.

"I felt pretty good, considering."

Head coach Mike Keenan wasn't sure when Lombardi would return, but the 26-year-old was targeting the game against the Western Conference powerhouse Red Wings.

"I was hoping (Saturday) would be the night," said the 6-ft., 198-lb. Lombardi.

"I was getting ready for it during the week."

Now that he has shed the blue-coloured practice jersey, the Flames are carrying 14 healthy forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders, with Jim Vandermeer out until the new year with a broken ankle.

That means a lot less playing time for guys like Andre Roy and Brandon Prust, who were both healthy scratches upon Lombardi's return.

The effect it had on Boyd, though, is a little puzzling. He has been the most energetic forward at times in what so far has been a breakout season for the 22-year-old.

He's seen time alongside top winger Jarome Iginla and not looked out of place.

Alongside Eric Nystrom and Wayne Primeau, though, Boyd did look a little out of sorts.

Another forward who hasn't seen the kind of ice time many would argue he deserves is Michael Cammalleri.

Averaging 15:38 per game with the Flames, the winger has five goals and 11 assists in 20 games.

That's two more points than Todd Bertuzzi, who hasn't scored a goal in nine games but averages more than 20 minutes per outing.

Bertuzzi has been skating with Iginla and Daymond Langkow lately, and while that doesn't appear as if it's going to change, Lombardi's return gives Keenan more options.


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