CALGARY, AB -- Lance Bouma is making strides. Literally.
The Calgary Flames forward joined teammates in practice for the first time since sustaining a broken fibula in mid-October.
“It healed really well so I was able to get out there quicker than expected,” said Bouma, who had a career-high 16 goals and 34 points in 78 games last season.
“It feels fine. It’s not quite up to speed yet but other than that I don’t feel anything at all in the leg.”
Coach Bob Hartley called Bouma’s return “great news.”
“He’s been skating for the past week on his own, what we call public skating. He’s done good,” Hartley said. “Then he went on with our strength and conditioning coach Ryan van Asten and we were more than pleased with the results. So was the medical staff. He’s a few weeks ahead of schedule. It’s just to say what work the medical staff, doctors are doing with athletes in the NHL. We do good work to bring them before because they’re not ready, the players and doctors always make the call, but to see [Bouma] on the ice practicing full contact with the players this morning is great news.
“It was fun. Coming back from the big win it’s a good situation for us. You get a player that is a big part of this team. It’s a good feeling.”
Bouma left in the second period of a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 13. He went awkwardly into the boards after being checked by Ryan Reaves and couldn’t put any weight on his left leg as he tried to scramble to the bench.
At the time, there was no firm return date for Bouma.
That still holds true after Sunday’s skate.
“There’s no timetable yet for his return because obviously he’s missed a lot of hockey,” Hartley said. “To get game speed right now, or at least practice speed, to be bouncing off teammates and driving to the net and doing team concept drills, that’s a huge step.
“Tomorrow’s he going to practice and we’re going to get him in conditioning skates after to make suure we maximize his return. Whenever the medical staff and [Bouma] feels it’s a go, he’ll be back in the lineup.”
“We’ll just see how it goes from here,” added Bouma. “I haven’t skated for a long time. Just getting back up to game speed is going to be important. It’s going to take some time. We’ll take it by day and see how it goes.”
A broken fibula is just the most recent of a plethora of injuries Bouma has battled.
Last season, he missed the final two games of the regular season and nine in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after breaking a finger blocking a shot.
“It’s been a tough six months,” said Bouma, who also missed all but three games in the American Hockey League for Abbotsford in 2012-13 because of knee surgery. “It’s disappointing coming into camp, coming in shape, wanting to have a good season and have to sit out for a long time. It’s tough. It’s part of the game. There’s not much you can do about it.”
A hat trick, as part of a career-best four-point night, topped with an overtime winner to extend his NHL lead to three goals and five points in the extra session?
It’s becoming par for the course for Johnny Gaudreau.
“It’s worth the price of admission just to watch him on the bench,” Hartley said. “He’s like a car in the NASCAR race in the pit. He’s spinning on the bench. He wants to go. You call his name and his shoulders go up and he’s ready to go. He’s coming back on the bench, if he didn’t score, you can tell he’s not happy and he’s edgy and he wants to go back. We always talk about how creative, how good offensively he is, he never stops amazing me but the competitor in the player, the competitor in the human being is just unbelievable.
“He’s mighty mouse.”
Gaudreau became just the second skater in Flames franchise history to finish a hat trick in OT.
Eddy Beers, on Oct. 30, 1983, in besting the Vancouver Canucks.
Gaudreau's clutch-like performances have turned him into the go-to-guy for the Flames.
“As a younger guy, it’s cool to have these older guys tell me ‘keep pushing, you’re going to get the next one, you’re going to get the next one,’” Gaudreau said. “It gives me confidence. There are a lot of great leaders in this locker room that I’m really fortunate to play on this team and learn from these guys.”
NOTES: David Jones (lower body) and Kris Russell (upper body) did not participate in practice Sunday. Both are day-to-day, according to Hartley.