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Calgary Flames hope Mikael Backlund has found new level to his game

Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund fires the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre...

Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund fires the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during NHL action at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary Saturday January 11, 2014. (MIKE DREW/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:39 AM ET

A career-best three-game goal-scoring streak.

A letter sewn on his sweater as a sign he's becoming a leader.

A late-game wrestling match with highly touted Nashville Predstors rookie defenceman Seth Jones followed by a not-gonna-back-down statement that will make it worth watching a little closer when they next meet.

The Mikael Backlund who returned with the Calgary Flames following their most recent two-game road swing is certainly a different version from the one we saw early in the season, struggling with his game to the point he was a healthy scratch.

"Right now, he's on a mission. He's playing well," Flames head coach Bob Hartley said of Backlund in the aftermath of their 4-2 loss to the Predators Tuesday night.

"He's our best player."

A good argument could be made Jiri Hudler or captain Mark Giordano deserve that status, but the praise is warranted.


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