Flames preparing as if Jets’ Scheifele, Laine will make unexpected returns

The Hockey Central panel breaks down the Winnipeg Jets bounce back victory in Game 2 of their qualifying series against the Calgary Flames.

EDMONTON – The Calgary Flames enter Game 3 bracing for the possibility Mark Scheifele and/or Patrik Laine will return to the lineup.

"To be honest with you, we thought there might be a chance both guys may play (Monday)," said Flames interim coach Geoff Ward.

"It wouldn’t have surprised us if they lined up. Both guys are competitive guys and it’s the most important time of the year. After what I’ve seen some players go through at this time of year, I mean, I saw Patrice Bergeron play with a collapsed lung, broken ribs. It took 10 needles to get himself into a situation to play in a game. The things guys can do to get healthy are amazing. Their competitive level as professional players is off the charts."

Both players exited Saturday’s playoff opener with injuries and watched Monday’s rematch from the stands, shown on the jumbotron as their team battled back to even the series 1-1.

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Scheifele’s leg injury looked particularly serious six minutes into Game 1 when he collided along the boards with Matthew Tkachuk, drawing accusations from Jets coach Paul Maurice the hit was dirty and involved a targeted kicking motion. Scheifele was seen sporting a walking boot.

Laine appeared to have injured his hand during a hit on Mark Giordano late Saturday, but it didn’t prevent him from using his phone to text throughout Monday’s game.

"They’re not fit to play," said Maurice of both players’ statuses following appointments with specialists.

"We’ll see tomorrow. I’m not looking to give up an advantage of any part of this now. They didn’t play (Monday), we’ll see how they come to the rink (Tuesday)."

The Jets 3-2 win in Game 2 was particularly impressive given all four lines had to be jumbled due to the absence of those two stars, as well as Mason Appleton.

The Flames got a bit of a scare late in the game when Johnny Gaudreau was hit at the blue line by Neal Pionk, prompting the winger to head straight for the bench holding his left hand in obvious pain. After being looked at on the bench, Gaudreau returned for a normal shift to finish the game with no apparent ill effects.

Here are more notes to help take you behind the curtain and into the empty arena we are watching from:

• The fake crowd noise provided by EA Sports has been used exclusively for the TV broadcasts until Monday when rink officials slowly started adding some of it to the arena as a bit of an experiment. They were adding some crowd reaction following big hits and crafty moves, which was noticeable as the only other sounds during play include cheers and encouragement from the benches, as well as a steady stream of cursing directed at the opposition and officials. It’s amazing how much trash talk there is out there.

• The NHL’s puck budget is going to skyrocket, as there is no netting needed around the rink perimeter here to protect fans. The folks who dismantle the rink-side tarps in October will be able to collect enough pucks to keep a minor hockey association going for decades.

• Nice touch by a handful of rink security officials to throw a few hats onto the ice Monday night following Connor McDavid’s hat trick. Hilarious actually.

• Not quite as funny as the jumbotron posting: "Today’s attendance: 0"

• The Flames are wearing decals with KMK on the back of their helmet in honour of long-time Flames president Ken King, who passed away March 11 after a lengthy illness.

• Yes, the Flames were using the Oilers dressing room Monday, which isn’t always the case when a team is the designated home team here at Rogers Place. For Game 1, the Flames dressed in the WHL’s visiting team locker room.

• If you are a Flames season-ticket holder who submitted a video cheering on your team as requested, I can assure you it was being used as part of a video collage during TV timeouts of the Flames’ first two games. Flames anthem singer George Canyon was also used as the game’s anthem singer, by way of a pre-taped video from his basement studio accompanied by Saddledome organist Willie Joosen.

• Former Flames goaltender Eddie Lack had an interesting Twitter take on the empty stadiums: "I think the best part of the bubble is you don’t hear anyone shouting "SHOOOOOT" on the power play." We concur, although I promise you players on both benches are guilty of same.

• Don’t be surprised if Zac Rinaldo is scratched from Tuesday’s 4:45 p.m. MT game, as he was rarely used Monday (he played 4:20) following his needless second-period cross-checking infraction that put the Flames down two men for a full two minutes. The most likely replacement would be Mark Jankowski, but consideration would also be given to Alan Quine, Austin Czarnik or maybe even Buddy Robinson. While the Flames have done well to be the more physical of the two teams, they crossed the line too many times Monday, which was a factor in their loss.

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