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Jacob Markstrom's fractured finger prompts goalie shuffle in Calgary

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom is sidelined with a fractured finger. Vancouver Canucks forward Ilya Mikheyev, left, scrambles for a loose puck as Markstrom gets caught out of position during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — Dan Vladar is about to see his workload increase in the Calgary Flames' net in the near future.

Jacob Markstrom's fractured finger on his right blocker hand doesn't require surgery, but the club said Tuesday the status of Calgary's No. 1 is week to week. The Swede left Monday's practice when he injured his hand and didn't return.

Calgary (10-11-3) will look to Vladar and Dustin Wolf, called up from the American Hockey League's Calgary Wranglers on Tuesday, to take over in goal.

"Jacob's injury just opens the door for opportunity for both Danny and Dusty," Flames head coach Ryan Huska said. "We know both guys will give us chances to win, so we're comfortable playing both for sure.

"The great thing about Jacob's injury, it's not as bad as it seemed. Week to week, you could see him one week, could be shortly thereafter. It's not something we're expecting to be long term, which is a great thing." 

Vladar was 4-2-1 with a 3.20 goals-against average and .883 save percentage heading into Tuesday night's game against the visiting Minnesota Wild. 

In his previous start Nov. 27, Vladar stopped 27 of 28 shots in Calgary's 2-1 overtime win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights. 

The 26-year-old Czech didn't know he was the starter until late that day because of a sudden Markstrom illness, which also forced Calgary into activating an emergency backup goaltender (EBUG). 

"Vladdy is a really good goalie and a really good person too," Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson said. "You've got to play the same way no matter who plays in net, or who plays on defence or who plays forward.

"Marky will be missed, but we have a lot of faith in all our goalies."

Markstrom's record was 6-8-2 with goals-against average of 2.94 and a save percentage of .896. Markstrom is one of the best goalies in the NHL at handling the puck. Andersson says Flames defencemen will adjust in his absence.

Wolf, the AHL's most valuable player and top goaltender last season, stopped 34 shots in a 4-1 road loss to the Ottawa Senators in his one NHL appearance so far this season.

The Flames' seventh-round draft pick in 2019 made his NHL debut and earned a win in Calgary's final game of the 2022-23 regular season.

Wolf owns a 10-3-0 record, 2.50 GAA and .920 save percentage with two shutouts in 13 AHL games this season. 

"A terrible thing to happen to Marky yesterday, but a good opportunity for myself to hopefully get an opportunity to play some games and just be around this atmosphere and the guys," said the 22-year-old Californian.

The Flames were in the middle of a six-game homestand Tuesday with the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils in town Thursday and Saturday respectively. 

Calgary opens a three-game road swing with a back-to-back starting Monday against the Colorado Avalanche and Tuesday against the Golden Knights.

"We feel like we have three guys that are capable of being a number one guy, so now when doors open a little bit, it's up to that player to make sure that door doesn't close," Huska said. "So whether you're talking about Danny or Wolfie, they have to push it open further."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2023.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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