The Calgary Flames got a familiar face back in their hour-long skate on Thursday, with Lance Bouma taking part in a full practice and skating alongside his regular season linemates, Matt Stajan and David Jones.
The move, inevitably, prompted questions about Bouma possibly returning to the lineup in Game 4 on Friday but he was quick to point out that no decisions have been made about his status.
"I feel good," he said. "Obviously still day-to-day, but I feel good.
"I feel like I’m ready, so we will see."
Bob Hartley was equally as tight-lipped about his status.
"The medical report this morning was saying that he is still day-to-day ... He's doing great. He is showing good progress."
Suffering an undisclosed injury on Apr. 7 in the Flames regular season game against the Arizona Coyotes, Bouma has been relegated to the press box during games. The situation has been frustrating for the forward but he has been able to get a good read on the Ducks systems from his vantage point up top.
If he is cleared to play during the series, he likes how his game matches up with Anaheim's.
"It was a really long four weeks," he admitted. "You’re in there working out every day and skating on your own. It’s tough to watch at this time of year. You want to be out there helping the guys and you kind of feel helpless when you’re in the dressing room just working out. You’ve just got to try and stay positive for the guys.
"You’ve got to do a good job, like last game, of initiating and not being scared and playing our game. That’s something we have to continue to do ... They’re a good match-up for me. I like playing against them, they are a big team."
His teammates didn't let him enter the fray quietly, bumping him and sending light-hearted chirps his way when he took a tumble during a drill. At one point, Deryk Engelland held him down after a spill along the end boards, prompting more laughter amongst the group.
"I think Boums only knows one way to play. You've got to play him hard, whether it's a game or practice," Stajan smiled. "That's how you get back into game action. We try to practice like we play as much as we can. That's why we have been able be very consistent this year."
Bouma is known for his intensity and unyielding work ethic, both in games and in practice. Having him participate in a full skate and getting closer to a return gives the rest of the team a boost of energy as they prepare for Game 4.
"He's obviously been a big part of this team all year. It was tough to see him go down. But I've been able to play a lot with him the last two years and he's a great player," Stajan stated. "He brings a lot of energy, he blocks shots, he throws it all out there for his teammates, and it's great to see him back out there with us."
In 76 regular season games, Bouma posted 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) -- setting new career-highs in all offensive categories.
PRACTICE ROSTER NOTES
Micheal Ferland, who has been held out of Games 2 and 3, skated on Thursday. He, Drew Shore, Markus Granlund, and Turner Elson donned green jerseys, skating as extras.
The rest of the lines and pairings are as follows:
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler
Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne
Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - David Jones
Brandon Bollig - Josh Jooris - Mason Raymond
TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
Tyler Wotherspoon - Raphael Diaz
Defenceman David Schlemko did not skate on Thursday. Mark Giordano and John Ramage skated as the extra pairing on the blueline.
Goaltenders Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller were both in attendance at practice while Joni Ortio made a few short appearances during different drills.
HITTING THE PRIME TIME
On Wednesday night, Jimmy Fallon ran a NHL Stanley Cup Playoff edition of his Superlatives feature and Mikael Backlund got a nod in the skit, being voted as the "Dampest" headshot in the NHL.
The Swede chuckled when the skit was brought up in his scrum on Thursday, noting it was pretty cool to be featured ... and a fairly accurate description of his 2014-15 photo.
"I wet my hair pretty good before that photo," he said. "I think, as usual, I had a hat on and then it was time for the photo so I figured I'd fill [my hair] with water and push it right back.
"It was something I didn't expect. I'll take it."
When asked if he had seen Backlund's late night TV mention, Hartley shook his head. The only TV he watches is hockey ... and Chicago Fire.
"It's true. I like the chief."
"I don't feel that they are higher or lower than when we were 0-2. This group is special. Whether they have no nerves or what ... I know one thing, they care a lot but it seems that any situations we can deal with them. They don't get rattled, they just take the challenge one-by-one of us and we enjoy it." - Bob Hartley on the atmosphere in the Flames locker room after the Game 3 win
The Flames and Ducks square off in Game 4 on Friday in Calgary. Game time is set for 7:30 PM MT with Sportsnet (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio) carrying the broadcasts.