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Flames' faceoffs get better

Calgary Flames' Rene Bourque (R) tries to get by Ottawa Senators' Jared Cowen during the first...

Calgary Flames' Rene Bourque (R) tries to get by Ottawa Senators' Jared Cowen during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, November 15, 2011. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

Steve Macfarlane, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Mikael Backlund still can’t fully bend his pinky finger, but that hasn’t stopped him from faring pretty well in the faceoff circle so far.

Although he had a rough outing against the Colorado Avalanche last weekend (winning just 29.4% of his draws), the 22-year-old Swede connected on 66.7% in his opener and 53.3% Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators.

And that’s with pain still occasionally stinging him.

“A little bit on faceoffs sometimes it’s a little sore. Get slashed and fall on it, it obviously hurts sometimes when you fall bad on it,” Backlund said. “But it won’t break again and it’s real strong now. It feels good handling the puck and everything. It’s not a big issue.”

He broke it near the top joint, and the top section still stays straight when he makes a fist.

“I just have to work on it a little bit.”

Bourque misses another practice

Rene Bourque’s absence for a second straight day of practice had people at the Saddledome speculating anything from a possible trade to a potential concussion from his run-in with the Ottawa Senators’ Jason Spezza during Tuesday night’s loss.

But the Flames maintained Thursday it was just another maintenance day and that he is expected to play Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Yeah, it’s just maintenance — for the second day in a row,” Flames associate coach Craig Hartsburg said. “He should be good to go.”

No such luck for winger David Moss, who will sit out again with a sore foot.

Chicago call-ups

The Hawks called up winger Ben Smith from the minors Thursday, placing veteran Rosteslav Olesz on waivers and assigning him to the AHL to clear up a roster spot.

If Michael Frolik can’t play after taking a long slide into the boards Wednesday in Vancouver, Smith would suit up in his place.

 


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