CALGARY – The Calgary Flames revealed little about the state of Brendan Morrison’s left knee, saying in a statement Friday the centre was “day-to-day.”
Morrison made a slow, painful trek across the United Centre ice Wednesday after he was pinned awkwardly into the end boards by Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Morrison didn’t participate in Friday’s game-day skate for the Columbus Blue Jackets at night. Without the 35-year-old in the lineup, the Flames were once again auditioning for a centre for their top forward line.
Finding a suitable centre for captain and right-winger Jarome Iginla has been an ongoing issue for the Flames. The cagey, crafty Morrison seemed a good fit for Iginla and left-winger Alex Tanguay the past two months as the trio’s production helped the club climb into the Western Conference playoff hunt.
Centres Olli Jokinen, Matt Stajan and Michael Backlund have played on Calgary’s top line alongside Iginla at various points this season and last.
But head coach Brent Sutter shifted Tanguay in the middle and moved winger Rene Bourque to the first line in Friday’s pre-game skate.
“We’ll do some tinkering and find something that works,” Sutter said. “It could be different variations throughout the game depending on who they’re lining up against and who is handling it the way you’d like to see them handling it.”
Iginla was prepared for a carousel of centres as long as Morrison is sidelined.
“Brent mixes the lineups in different games quite a bit,” Iginla said. “Tangs will be up the middle for a certain amount of shifts, but if I were guessing I’d be guessing Backs, Stajan and Olli are going to see more minutes.”
“We’re going to learn on the fly. With Mo being out, especially up the middle I imagine they’ll be counted a lot more and we’re fortunate to have the depth we do have. We’re going to need it now.”
Morrison was a pleasant surprise for the Flames this season. He signed a one-year contract in October after he was released by the Vancouver Canucks and worked his way up Calgary’s depth chart.
Morrison contributed nine goals and 32 assists this season, but his defensive play stood out with a team-leading plus-13 rating.
Flames acting general manager Jay Feaster said in the statement that Morrison required more evaluation by the club’s doctor before his playing status could be determined.
“Any time you lose a player who had been playing well, it’s not a good thing,” Sutter said. “We can’t do anything about it. We’re not in a position where we can sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to carry on and move forward like we have been.”