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Bouma nearing his return to the lineup

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

He looks good. It's just a matter of making sure that the stitches don't come off. It's just more precautionary than anything else.Bob Hartley on Lance Bouma

COLUMBUS, OH -- Orson Welles once said, "Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck."

Calgary Flames forward Lance Bouma is a perfect example of just that.

If there were any justice for Bouma, a tireless worker who is respected around the league for his attitude and never-say-die style of play, his season would have went a lot differently than it has.

Instead, he has been maligned with bad luck.

He played just three games to start the 2015-16 campaign before sustaining a broken fibula that would leave him sidelined for over two months. His recovery was smooth and he was able to get back into the lineup on Dec. 22.

However, his string of rotten luck didn't end there.

On Jan. 11, in his eighth game since returning to the lineup, Bouma suffered a cut on his leg in a 5-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks that would place him back on the sidelines as it healed.

"It's frustrating to miss so much time," he said after a lengthy practice at Nationwide Arena. "Obviously you want to be out there every shift and every game. It's been tough. I've watched a lot of hockey this year.

"Especially with the hunt we're in right now, you want to be playing every single night. Anyone in (the) same situation has the same mindset."

Bouma is hoping that the leg laceration is final bump in his season.

He has been skating with the team over the past week and he will be back in the lineup, according to head coach Bob Hartley, in the very near future.

"Not tomorrow but most likely, we're going to see Boums in one of the final two games," the bench boss stated. "He looks good. It's just a matter of making sure that the stitches don't come off. It's just more precautionary than anything else. He's doing good, he's skating well. He's ready to go. We just want to make sure it's fully healed."

This might be the most frustrating point of the year for Bouma, who feels no worse for wear and now just has to wait for the coaches and medical staff to feel comfortable that he won't aggravate the laceration in-game.

"I feel fine," Bouma said. "Obviously I was very fortunate that the cut wasn't worse than it was. I just needed time for the cut to heal and it feels fine now.

"Whenever they want me in, I'm going to be ready to go. I feel like my timing is fine and ready to go."

Despite the exasperating events of his 2015-16 season, Bouma has remained upbeat and positive around his teammates.

He hasn't wallowed or moped around, instead dedicating his days to staying in game shape and doing everything in his power to be ready for his return.

"Boums is a great guy," Hartley said. "Everybody likes Boums. He's a great worker so he's very respected. He's a heart-and-soul guy, a blue collar type player that shows up to work every day.

"It's difficult but Lance is very resilient. Very tough mentally so he always comes back, he's eager to come back right now. He's a good soldier. You go to war, those injuries will unfortunately happen. But that's what makes him so special for us."

Bouma's gritty style of play coupled with his unwavering work ethic has been missed in the lineup this year and Hartley is eager to get him back in as soon as the team is sure his injury can withstand the rigours of a game.

"He's a north-south player," Hartley said. "Up and down, creates room, goes hard to the net, defensively very reliable. And not fun to play against. That's primarily what I like the most about Boums; he's hard-nosed.

"You add a few more guys and suddenly we're a bigger team, we're a team that can be in the opponents face, play hard, play smart, and create offence."

In his 11 games this year, Bouma has one goal. He registered a career-high 16 goals and 34 points in 78 appearances.

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