FROM WEDNESDAY'S SKATE
The Flames met at the Saddledome this morning for a combination of off-ice and on-ice training. All players took to the ice for a practice that had the main focus on special teams. Several power play and penalty killing drills as well as a 3-on-3 game for the final 15 minutes of practice.
"There's been some really good practices," said Head coach Brent Sutter. "We really wanted to work on our specialty teams these first couple days. That's what we focused on yesterday and today. We know with our specialty teams we want to get to a level that it needs to be at.
"You can't go from where we are, to being the top four in the NHL, it's a tough thing to do. The focus is with what we're doing now moving forward. Can we be a top team on the power play and a top team on the penalty kill? If we do it right we can be but we have to work on it and continue to work on it."
The Flames currently are sitting in 21st spot in the league on the power play. They have scored 25 goals on 154 power play opportunities which is 16.2%.
On the penalty kill they are sitting in 23rd spot allowing 30 goals in 150 times being shorthanded.
"That's what we wanted to do after Christmas," Sutter continued. "That's been a focal point. Let's see if from here on our power play and penalty kill can be at a certain level. We've worked hard the last couple of days and we'll continue to do so."
BACKLUND MISSING SOMETHING?
Mikael Backlund has been watching the games from the pressbox for the last four games as a healthy scratch. What is missing from his game and if there is something missing, are there signs that they are improving and is it enough to get back in the lineup?
"We didn't take Bak out of the lineup just because we just thought we'd take him out of the lineup, there are reasons why we did it. We thought it would be good for him to sit and watch a game for a young guy. Then if your team plays well, you're hesitant to change your lineup. That's just the feelings you have as a coach. So it's been a little tougher to get him back in the lineup because of the way we've played here in the last couple of games.
"We still want to continue to reach our goals and that is to get in the playoffs and we need to win games. So when you have a lineup that's playing well and winning, you're reluctant to change it and it just happens that Baks was in a tough spot in that situation. He'll get his opportunity to get back and when he does, he's going to want to stay in the lineup through his play."
Backlund has played in 32 games for the Flames so far this season tallying four goals and four assists for eight points. He last played at home on December 18th when the Flames hosted the Minnesota Wild. Backlund understands that he has a lot to learn and this is just one of the stepping stones that comes with playing in the NHL. He says he will continue to work hard on his game and hopes that he will keep learning and developing as a player and soon return to the lineup.
"He's a young guy who's still learning the process of what it takes to be a National Hockey player on an every day basis through games and practices and the amount of hard work you need to do so," Sutter remarked. "We're going to continue to work with him on that."