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Flames Today: 30.10.14

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Injury breeds opportunity. Markus Granlund is hoping to seize his.

In the wake of injuries to Joe Colborne (upper body, day-to-day) and Matt Stajan (knee injury, six weeks), the 21-year-old was summoned by the Calgary Flames and is expected to make his season debut Friday against the Nashville Predators.

“Everyone wants to play in the NHL,” Granlund said. “That’s my goal. Now I’m here. I’m just going to try to do my best.”

Granlund had three goals and five points in eight games for the Adirondack Flames before being summoned. Last year, the native of Oulu, Finland played seven games for the Flames last season, recording two goals and an assist before a shoulder injury ended his year.

Calgary coach Bob Hartley hasn’t forgot that stint and is expecting big things from the rookie.

“Lets go back to the end of the season the way he was playing for us, was playing big minutes and tomorrow we’re planning a major role for [Granlund],” Hartley said. “I think that he’s a good player, he just has to keep maturing, keep getting better around the game. He brings a lot. He has lots of good assets that will definitely help us. I’m looking forward to see him play.”

The scouting report, Hartley declared, has been plenty favourable on Granlund.

“I’ve watched many of their games plus I’ve been talking to (coach) Ryan (Huska) in Adirondack,” Hartley said. “Solid. Power play, PK, 5-on-5. Granny has tremendous hockey sense. Obviously that’s the reason why he’s here plus he’s not that big 6-3 centreman, but he’s solid, he’s strong. I think that physically he’s doing a lot. He wants to play in the NHL. Mentally, he’s very mature for a young man.

“Lets remember this guy played a few years in the Finnish Elite League and that helps. When you’re 18, 19-years-old and you’re playing against men, it’s going to help you a lot.”

Having NHL experience under his belt helps, too.

Granlund admits having his stint last season has helped him prepare for what to expect this time around.

“Second time here, so of course it’s easier,” he said. “Now I know how the game is here. I know how everything goes here. I’m feeling good.”

LINING UP

Granlund isn’t the only one with an opportunity with the rash of injuries striking Calgary.

Both Devin Setoguchi and Brian McGrattan will draw back into the lineup. Setoguchi has served as a healthy scratch for the past four games and five of the past six, while McGrattan hasn’t suited up since Oct. 17 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

A healthy dose of practice has Setoguchi ready to go.

“It’s been a while,” he said. “It’ll be nice to get back in and try to get up to speed as quick as I can.

“It’s been tough. I mean, when you don’t play for so many games in a row you just skate every day in practice. It gets pretty tough. You’ve just got to mentally block it out and go in [Friday] and just try to play my game.”

Hartley is happy with the progress Setoguchi has made in practice.

“[Setoguchi] has worked hard in the last two weeks,” he said. “We’ve worked on his conditioning and everything. Here’s a guy with a powerful shot and we certainly need this. I’m happy with the work that [Setoguchi] has put in in the last weeks.”

MANAGING MIKAEL

The loss of Colborne and Stajan -- coupled by an upper body injury to Mason Raymond -- isn’t the only thing plaguing the Flames. Mikael Backlund has been powering through an injury of his own.

But he’s managing.

“It’s an adjustment. It’s not ideal,” said Backlund, who was back on the ice after taking a maintenance day Wednesday. “I don’t like to miss practices and all that and not being able to go full on. I’m trying to do my best and trying to adjust to it and come game time I just try to prepare as normal.

“I’m just trying to do my regular thing. It’s treatable but after games, it’s more just settle it down, ice it, cold tub, the same things I’ve been doing when I’m healthy. Obviously I’m getting more treatment than when I’m healthy.

“If you’re healthy, everything is rolling. It’s not ideal but it’s something I’ve had to deal with so far and I’m trying to do my best with it.”

Backlund missed most of training camp with an abdominal strain that has lingered into the regular season.

“It’s tough on [Backlund],” Hartley said. “He’s kind of the guy in the tough spot because obviously he’s playing with pain. There’s no secret about this. He’s a warrior. He’s grown up a lot in this organization. We’re managing his practice time. Obviously we need his minutes.

“He’s doing very good for us but at the same time, we always talk with Backs, we talk with the medical staff. We do the best. It’s slowly getting better but hopefully we’ll be able to put this behind us.”

Despite the nagging injury, Backlund has managed one goal and four points in 11 games this season.

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