CALGARY, AB -- The past seven weeks have been incredibly frustrating for Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund but the 23 year-old is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Sidelined with an upper body injury since Feb. 12, the pivot has been forced to watch his teammates play from the press box and has spent the last few weeks skating on his own. However, he was given clearance to join his teammates for practice on Wednesday afternoon.
"It felt good," he said afterwards. "It's fun to be around the guys and be out on the ice with them."
While he is skating with the team, the Swede has yet to absorb any real contact yet. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, he wasn't even at the midway mark of where he needs to be in terms of strength.
"The doctor said I was like 30 percent," Backlund admitted, talking about his chat with the medical team a couple of weeks ago. "But I've been working hard, trying to strengthen up."
Backlund started to take slapshots today - a very good way to gauge how his malady is healing - and is optimistic about his recovery. He's confident that his rehab process will keep this injury from lingering and becoming a long-term issue.
"It's step-by-step, slow and steady. There's no rush."
The Flames have two more games remaining in the 2011-12 campaign - Thursday against Vancouver and Saturday against Anaheim - but Backlund does not expect he'll be able to suit up for either.
"I've got to get it stronger and I don't know if it's worth the risk, two games left in the year ... I want to be 100 percent and not throw myself out there if I'm not."