'Back' to be Enemy No. 1

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

What a difference 40 feet makes.

That's about the distance between the Calgary Flames locker-room and the visitors room at the Saddledome.

Flames prospect Mikael Backlund was treated like a hero when he made his NHL debut Jan. 8.

Now, the Kelowna Rockets star is the enemy.

And the Swedish sniper said he's OK with donning the black hat for the WHL championship, which begins tonight at the Dome (7:30 p.m., Shaw TV, Fan 960).

"Yeah, I like that," Backlund said with a grin. "After that, we'll see.

"But I love to play in this arena."

The Flames first-round draft pick (24th overall in 2007) has nine goals and 16 points in 13 playoff games and is coming off his finest outing in a Rockets jersey.

Backlund scored a hat-trick, including the overtime winner, in the Rockets' series-clinching victory over the Vancouver Giants in Game 6 of the Western Conference final.

"I had a real good game and it feels really great," Backlund said.

"That was my first hat-trick, and (the timing) couldn't be better."

The 20-year-old said he expects to see a lot of the Calgary Hitmen's top checking line, but points out the Rockets have other players capable of filling the net.

"They're going to play against our whole team," he said. "It's not only me.

"They're going to have to look after everybody."

The Rockets are led by world junior standout Jamie Benn, who tops the post-season scoring charts with 11 goals and 28 points.

Teammate Cody Almond is next with 22 points.

But Backlund gives the Rockets a true gamebreaker, a player who can dominate a game.

Defenceman Tyler Myers said Backlund has become a clutch player.

"If anyone saw that Game 6 against Vancouver, he's been unbelievable," Myers said.

"He's come through for us in big games and we're lucky to have him.

"I'm sure the fans in Calgary are looking forward to watching him."

They are. But maybe not this week.

Myers is in a similar situation. He's a local product, who will have a few loyal supporters in the crowd. But for the most part, he, too, is the enemy.

"We're probably not (the most popular players this week)," Myers said.

"Even though it's just a small percentage of the crowd, I'll be happy to have my friends and family in the seats."


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