SUN Hockey Pool

Tanguay on the road to recovery

Calgary Flames' Alex Tanguay (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

Calgary Flames' Alex Tanguay (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:07 PM ET

EDMONTON - Alex Tanguay didn’t skate for the Calgary Flames Saturday night (8 p.m., CBC/Sportsnet 960).

He did have an offer on the table to play elsewhere.

While the Flames were in California for the first two parts of this road trip, Tanguay was on the ice by himself in Calgary. At least until Friday morning when the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen had an early practice in anticipation of their game against the Prince George Cougars.

“They scouted me and offered me (a chance) to play the game (Friday night at the Saddledome),” Tanguay said with a smile after partaking in the Flames morning skate Saturday. “It was fun. Those guys skate well, pass the puck well … We played some three-on-three in the corners (during Hitmen practice) — the tempo was different than here, but it was fun.”

Not so fun, though, for the left winger was watching yet another Flames game. Although Tanguay made the trip to Edmonton, he didn’t lace up to face the host Oilers.

“It is his first day back practising with the group,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter, who made the call after watching his veteran set-up man on the ice. “I want him to get a couple practises in, so he has his pace to where it needs to be to help our hockey team.”

The good news is Tanguay should return soon, if not for Tuesday’s home clash against the San Jose Sharks, then shortly after the league’s all-star break (next weekend).

There’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel for the 32-year-old forward, who last played Dec. 20 and been out since due to a mysterious ‘upper body’ injury.

Tanguay said it’s a neck injury, not a concussion.

“It’s been pretty frustrating through this whole process, but I haven’t been told I have a concussion, so that’s always a positive sign,” said Tanguay, who’s collected five goals and 22 points in 33 games this season.

“It’s easier to be on the ice than it is to be at home, sitting at the end of your couch and watching the game. It’s so nerve-wracking, I find.”

You know it’s frustrating when a player would rather go through the hard workouts necessary to get back in action, which Tanguay is staring at for the next few days.

“Any time you’re out a long period of time, there’s a process to get back, first in shape — that’s why they put me through these hard workouts, but also the timing,” Tanguay said. “In the middle of the season, this time of year, the pace is starting to pick up. If you miss the first month of the season, I find it’s easier to get back with the pace of the games because the tempo is still revving up.

“This time of the year, guys are getting ready for the playoffs and every point is important. You have to make sure you get yourself to a pace of play that’s going to help your team.”

The good news for Tanguay is he should return to a lineup which added sniper Michael Cammalleri alongside Jarome Iginla.

“Cammy’s a gamebreaker. He’s like Iggy in some ways — one shot and he’s got the opportunity. He could be sleeping the whole game, and in the third period, he’ll get one shot and put it in the net,” Tanguay said. “I think it adds to our depth defensively. Rene Bourque was a big part of our team, and we’re going to miss him, but Cammy is a gamebreaker, and in crunch-time, we’ll need him to come up big and score those big goals for us.”

In fact, Tanguay has been watching Cammalleri closely in anticipation of setting up some one-timers.

“I’m trying to pick up a few things here and there,” Tanguay added. “If I’m in the situation where I’m playing with those two guys, I’ll certainly know what to expect.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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