Lee Stempniak is close to returning for the Calgary Flames, which is outstanding news for a team that has managed five goals in its last five games and has only won once in the last six contests. Prior to going down with a broken foot at the end of October, Stempniak had been among Calgary’s most dangerous forwards.
He had posted nine points in ten games and was settling in nicely as a top-six forward for the Flames. The team has struggled mightily without his production and Mark Giordano’s absence on the blue line. While the defenseman isn’t close to returning, Stempniak could go as soon as Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.
He spoke to Calgary’s official site after taking part in a full practice this morning:
I felt pretty good. I skated the last few days and today was obviously the first with the guys. It’s just fun to be out there and I’m that much closer to playing in a game, hopefully.
After missing seven consecutive games, the Flames team that Stempniak is returning to is in a different place than it was when he left. Calgary has gone 2-5 with him on the shelf, and the blistering pace that the offense set right out of the gate has cooled off considerably.
Coach Bob Hartley spoke to Calgary’s site about Stempniak’s pending return:
The medical staff will meet with him and evaluate him. They gave us permission to have him full practice today. That’s a pretty big step. He’s getting close. You saw him today, full practice. If he’s full practice, he’s close. You look at the conditioning that he showed. It’s pretty good.
If Stempniak doesn’t play against San Jose on Tuesday, he could be ready for Thursday’s showdown with the Dallas Stars.