While the mood around the Calgary Flames locker room can only be described as incredibly
upbeat, there is one player whose smile shines a bit brighter than the rest of his counterparts.Lance Bouma
, who was recalled from the Abbotsford Heat on Feb. 3, notched his first career NHL point during the Flames 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday and the grin he adorned after that milestone hasn't left his face since.
"It felt good last night to get that," he said on Tuesday after practice. "It was just a good play by Backs, a really good move, and it felt good."
Bouma played in his first NHL game on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, earning 4:34 of ice time. His ice time jumped to 5:50 on Monday and the Provost, AB native is feeling a lot more at ease about his first tenure in the NHL.
"The first game, at the beginning, I was a little nervous," he admitted. "I was watching things a little bit. But last night I felt a lot better. I felt a lot more confident with the puck, realized I had more time than I thought. I felt it went good last night."
It's common for players to be recalled when a club is struggling and looking for a way to add more jump to the team. However, Bouma's call-up came in the midst of an eight-game point streak.
"It's awesome to come into a situation like this," he smiled. "The atmosphere in here is really positive. Everyone has been really upbeat and really excited about what's going on here. I think it's nice for a young player to get called up in a situation like this."
The youngster hasn't been the victim of too many rookie pranks but did fall prey to a team joke during his first contest.
"My first warmup, they made me go out on my own there for a couple of laps," he laughed. "I kinda knew it was coming. Oh well, it's alright."
His linemate Mikael Backlund
has immensely enjoyed having Bouma in the locker room as there is now someone younger than him on the team.
"I can tell him to pick up the pucks and stuff," he said, failing to maintain a straight face. "He's a young kid and if he says something to me, I can just say 'Yeah, yeah. Bouma, just do this.' ... I'm just kidding. It feels good to have some young guys around here. I really like all the guys on the team, they're all great guys, but it's always fun to have some young guys on the team."
The two played against each other during the WHL days when Backlund suited up for the Kelowna Rockets and Bouma played for the Vancouver Giants. When the Swede recalled playing against the gritty winger and said he was glad they were no longer rivals.
"He's so hard to play against. He plays really tough and he's always following through with his checks. You had to watch out when he came. It didn't matter that I was a Flames prospect too. He was going to hit me."
Bouma's call-up is one of acting general manager Jay Feaster's first moves in his new role.In January, he stated he wanted to reward players in Abbotsford who were excelling with stints with the Flames. That declaration has energized the Heat, who are currently sitting two points of Calder Cup contention.
"It's nice to get rewarded for some hard work that you've put in down there," said Bouma. "I think before, guys didn't think that there was a chance anyone was going to be called up. Once you hear something like that coming from up top, you realize there is a shot. You want to work hard and you want to do your best every night. That really helped our team."
Bouma knows his time in Calgary may be limited but the 20 year-old plans on making the most of his time with the Flames.
"You've got to make sure you're smart out there. You can't be running all over the place, running out of position. You've got to make sure you're in the right position and doing things when you're out there, creating energy. That's the biggest thing I think - create energy for the team in whatever way you can."Injury update
During Monday's win against the Blackhawks, the Flames defence corps dropped to five men in the third period thanks to an upper body injury sustained by Adam Pardy.
The blueliner took part in optional off-ice training on Tuesday but is not sure if he'll be ready for Wednesday's tilt with the Ottawa Senators.
"It's just day-to-day right now. It didn't feel very good last night so I stayed out of the game. I'll see how it feels tomorrow."
This isn't the first injury Pardy has suffered this season. He missed 25 games early in the season thanks to a shoulder malady.
"It's never very much fun when you have to sit out and watch," he said. "Getting back and playing, starting to play well, and then getting another injury is never fun. But we'll see how it feels tomorrow and hopefully I can get back soon."
In 30 games this season, Pardy has one goal and seven points.