Flames' Glencross in unfamiliar territory

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 PM ET

LOS ANGELES — By his best guess, the last time Curtis Glencross played centre was for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Or perhaps, it was during his midget days.

But, the Calgary Flames forward — normally a left-winger — looked at ease as the man in the middle through much of Sunday’s clash with the Anaheim Ducks.

“It was a little different. I found myself getting too far from the middle of the ice, but that’s something that’s going to happen when you haven’t played a position for 10 years,” Glencross said.

Right now, the Flames are in dire need of another big-league centre.

With a trio of pivots out of action due to injury — Daymond Langkow (neck), Brendan Morrison (knee) and converted-winger David Moss (ankle) — head coach Brent Sutter turned to Glencross during the Ducks game.

He didn’t have much choice. Of the four players who are centres, two are rookies — Mikael Backlund and first-year pro Lance Bouma.

When Backlund took a hard hit from Corey Perry late in the first period (Perry received two minutes from boarding), Sutter gave Glencross a shot.

The result was one of his best games, including a pair of assists with the kind of passes you need a centre to make.

“This time of year, it’s wherever you’ve got to play to get the job done,” Glencross said. “Everybody has to step up to get the job done.”

Sutter said he doesn’t plan to convert Glencross to centre on a full-time basis, but does enjoy having that option.

“Not his natural position, but I thought he handled it well,” Sutter said. “It’s a situation where we’re having to work with what we have, as far as lacking that centre-ice depth right now, and we have to put other guys in that situation.

“To be quite honest, initially when a winger does that, they find it quite different, but they like it, too, because you’re able to move your feet a lot more.

“There’s more responsibility involved, but they seem to find themselves more involved. Glennie was telling me after the game that he found it weird to start with, but he settled in pretty quickly. And he enjoyed it.”

Backlund didn’t go to the room after the hit, but spent time on the bench regaining his faculties. He played just five minutes over the final two periods and overtime.

“He was 100% (healthy), I think he was just fought it after (the hit),” Sutter said. “A young player, a high emotional, high-intensity game, it set him back in the game. He has to fight through that. Another learning curve for him.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

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