Sitting out 'painful' for Flames' Backlund

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 PM ET

Mikael Backlund has one word for sitting in the press box a fourth straight game.

“Painful,” he stated.

Fans may have other words for the decision to have the club’s lone rookie munching on popcorn and drinking water from high above the action instead of taking the ice against the Buffalo Sabres Monday night.

Some which come to mind include foolish, bizarre, hindering.

However, Backlund is doing what he can to take the disappointment in stride.

“They said before last game I’ve got to be ready and hopefully will be back soon. I’ve got to get back my urgency and energy,” he said after going through extra paces with the other healthy scratches, Craig Conroy and Brendan Mikkelson.

“When I get back in, I have to play my game with a lot of energy and passion. I have to go out, have fun and work hard.”

Curiously, Backlund was told to find a place and moved into a new home earlier this month. Now, you can’t help but wonder whether he’d be better suited skating for the AHL Abbotsford Heat, which the Flames could do without him having to clear waivers.

“I hope not,” said Backlund, whose last game was the Dec. 18 home game against Minnesota. “You can never be safe, but I hope I don’t get sent down. I don’t even want to talk about that. That’s how badly I don’t want to go down.

“I want to stay around.”

And play.

The problem being the 21-year-old went through a serious bout of inconsistency for about a month.

After a slow start to the season, in which he was admittedly nervous, Backlund had a solid run until the club’s five-game road trip in late November.

In fact, just before the Flames faced off with the New York Rangers Nov. 22, head coach Brent Sutter said Backlund had been the club’s most consistent centre over a long spell, even though he’s only collected four goals and eight points in 32 games.

“I was inconsistent, and after that, it’s been two good games and one bad game. In November, I felt I was playing pretty good, solid defensively and a good, consistent game. Offensively, It hasn’t been there this season, but hopefully, it’ll come. I’ve just got to keep working hard.

“It’ll come eventually.”

His game and the scoring will come. That’s a solid bet.

His next time playing a game, though, is somewhat up in the air.

However, he really would like to suit up in the next three games, because his mom, Ann-Marie, and older sister, Malin, along with his best friend all came for a Christmas visit from Sweden.

“My sister has never seen me play here,” said Backlund, who treated his mom and sister to a day at the spa Monday. “Hopefully, I’ll play in the next game or in Edmonton or against the Islanders.”


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