CALGARY, AB -- Michael Frolik has a great sense of timing.
His return, after missing 12 games following a crash into the boards on Dec. 15 against the Nashville Predators, will drop him right into the middle of the ‘Battle of Alberta.’
And against the Edmonton Oilers.
“It was a special night and it was the first hat trick for me so I think I will remember it for a long time,” recounted Frolik of his trio of goals at the Oilers’ expense on Oct. 31. “It was a good game and we won which was the most important thing so we will go there again and I will hopefully help the guys and it’s a big game.”
Frolik is expected to return to the lineup, shaking off the effects of an upper body injury. Should he, Frolik will slide onto a line with Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett, replacing Jiri Hudler, who is still battling a nagging groin injury.
“I think that there’s a very good chance he’s going to be in the lineup,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “He’s doing very well. He wants to play. I expect him to be in the lineup tomorrow night.”
The wait has been a patient one for Frolik.
He’s never been relegated to bystanders’ duty because of injury before.
It’s new territory.
“I never really missed many games,” Frolik said. “This is the first kind of longer one. I had this one in junior, it was the same thing, so it was kind of a long time ago but this is the first one in the NHL.
“It’s definitely tough. It was my first longer injury like that in the NHL. It’s not easy to just watch the guys and sitting here in the room and just watching. Obviously you want to get out there and try to help the guys win the games. It was frustrating but it’s part of hockey and part of life. You have to deal with it and I just have to make sure I’m ready, and I think I am, and go out there and do the job.”
The wait was the result of a separated shoulder.
The shoulder has tested fine in practice.
“I did a lot of battles and hitting yesterday and it was fine,” Frolik said. “Obviously with some points across and reaching maybe you feel a little but it’s not getting any worse which is a good thing and hopefully it stays like that.
“We have great staff here and they were really good to me. We worked on the shoulder every day. They are a really good team and I have them to thank that’s it’s good and hopefully it stays like that.”
Now, Frolik is ready to return.
In the ‘Battle of Alberta.’
At the site of his only NHL hat trick.
“I’m really excited,” Frolik said. “It’s an Alberta rival game so it’s going to be a big game and obviously I want to be able to help the guys. I think I’ve had enough watching and its time to go and make sure I’m ready.”