Sporting a baby blue jersey, injured defenceman Dennis Wideman returned to practice with the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
Wideman, who’s missed 14 games with a broken hand, could find himself back in the lineup soon.
“It’s healed very well,” Wideman said. “When it happens, you’re frustrated it happened and you’re going to be sitting out. With something like this you kind of have a timeline and it’s come back just right on the timeline. There hasn’t been any setbacks or any real frustrating part of it yet.
“We’re kind of just trying to ramp it up a little bit, trying. If it starts to get sore or get tired then you back it down a little bit. It felt good today so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Wideman sustained the injury blocking a shot in Calgary’s 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 27th. He’s fifth on the team with 49 shot blocks despite playing in just 24 games this season.
“A puck’s coming at you, you always try to stick something out to block it,” he said. “I know I can’t really not do it so I’m sure I’ll do it again.”
When he does do it again, doctors want to make sure the hand will hold up. Once they feel comfortable it will, the 30-year-old will be back in the lineup.
“I think it’s mainly when the doctors decide it’s healed enough to withstand a slash or a puck or whatever,” Wideman said. “That’ll be the time when I get the OK to go when they feel it’s healed solid enough.”
BACKLUND SKIPS SKATE
Though he played a season-high 22:51 in Calgary’s 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, Mikael Backlund didn’t escape the Battle of Alberta without injury. The Flames centre skipped practice Saturday with what coach Bob Hartley called ‘maintenance’.
“He got hurt last night so we gave him a break,” said Hartley, who declined further detail of the injury. “Most likely he’ll be a game-time decision tomorrow.”
The injury comes at a time when the 6-foot, 198-pound pivot has been playing some of his best hockey.
Backlund has three points in his past four games and six in his previous eight contests. His past five games rank in his top-7 in terms of ice time this season, too.
“No one chooses when those injuries happen,” Hartley said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. We keep our fingers crossed and hopefully he’s good to go.”
With Backlund’s status questionable, the Flames are likely to recall a forward from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League. Who that is remains to be seen.
“I talked to Brian before practice,” Hartley said. “Obviously I’ve been on the ice so I didn’t talk to Brian since.”
CZECHS BOUNCE CANADA
As the Flames were piling off the ice from practice, the Czech Republic was well on its way to upsetting Canada at the World Junior Championship.
Two in particular paid close attention.
Jiri Hudler (2002, 2003, 2004) and Ladislav Smid (2004, 2005, 2006) have each represented the Czech Republic three times on the World Junior stage and had both were watching when Dominik Simon pulled a Peter Forsberg-esque deke to beat Canada’s Jake Paterson for the shootout clincher to help lift the Czechs to a 5-4 upset in round robin action.
“I’m happy for them,” said Hudler, who skated with Canada’s Jonathan Drouin in the summer. “They played a great game. I watched a little bit before practice and obviously the overtime and shootout.
“I wanted to see that Simon, scored the game winner in the shootout. I saw him in the game before and I liked the way he plays. Everybody played great.”
The Czechs held leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 before finally disposing of Canada in the shootout.
It’s their first ever win over Canada at the World Juniors.
“It’s good for them,” Hudler said. “They’re a young team. Before the tournament, I read some articles in the Czech paper. They said they were very young so they weren’t expecting to be one of the favourites in the tournament. To beat Canada, I think it’s pretty special for every one of them.”
“They put a plate in and some screws just so I wouldn’t have to cast it. That kind of allowed me to be able to use it a little bit the last few weeks and it quickens up the healing time a little bit.”
The Flames will host the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday (5:30 p.m. MT, SNET-W).