CALGARY, AB --
The 2011-12 season hasn't started out well for Calgary Flames defenceman Anton Babchuk
Playing in a mere two games this season and having been relegated to the press box for the last three contests, many have wondered when the towering blueliner will slot back into the lineup. However, a glance at the Flames defence units in practice would conclude his return is coming sooner than later.
While it is by no means a sign, Babchuk's inclusion in power play drills and him leave the ice before Derek Smith indicates he will likely play on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche.
Babchuk couldn't confirm if he will suit up against the Avs, saying that decision is that of head coach Brent Sutter.
"If he wants to put me back, it's his decision so I accept that. If I play, I play. If not, I practice hard to be ready to (be) put back in."
Sutter was quick to praise Babchuk when questioned about his absence in the lineup, calling him a consummate professional.
"He's had a great attitude. I'm sure he's disappointed that he hasn't played as he would like to be but he'll get his opportunity. He'll get his chance."
The coaching staff is trying to make sure their team plays within the structure they have set for them. Despite not being able to pull off a win in their last two games, Sutter feels his troops have played very well and cited the team's commitment to structure for those performances. If Babchuk wants to be a mainstay in the lineup, he needs to adhere to game plan placed in front of him.
"Babs just needs to settle in on that. Just be a good player for us but within the limits of how we want to play. "
Babchuk's booming shot wasn't on display in his first two outings either. Last year, he scored eight goals and 27 points in 65 games in a Flames uniform. He put 87 shots on net in that span. This year? He has a single assist and no shots on net.
"He's got to have his shot," Sutter said. "We want him to use it ... we need him shooting the puck. That's why he was successful last year. Every chance he got, he hammered it."
Babchuk signed a two-year deal with the Flames on July 4. He'll earn $2.5 million in both seasons.
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