VANCOUVER -- Mikael Backlund is back.
After a brief, one-game assignment to the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat, Backlund was recalled on Tuesday by the Calgary Flames.
Backlund, the Swedish rookie, practised at the morning skate here with Brendan Morrison and Rene Bourque and is expected to draw into the line-up tonight at Rogers Arena when the Flames play the red-hot Vancouver Canucks.
To make room for Backlund, the Flames will sit Niklas Hagman.
"As a team we need to be better and we need individuals to be better," said Flames head coach of the line-up change.
The Flames fourth line has been the offensive catalyst lately. David Moss, Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman have combined for 13 points and a plus 13 rating over the past five games, during which the Flames have gone 4-1-0. Certainly, against a team with the depth of the Canucks, they will need all lines, including the fourth, to be contributing.
Vancouver, to be sure, is one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League. They recently reeled off three consecutive road victories against tought Western Conference opponents, beating Dallas, Colorado and San Jose in succession. They are an impressive 11-0-2 in their last 13 games and 15-1-2 since November 21. No small wonder that they are at the top of the NHL standings.
"We're playing an opponent that is 4-1 in the last five games," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. "Obviously they are really desperate. And so are we. Points are hard to come by."
NOTES: Flames captain Jarome Iginla has played Vancouver 75 times. He has 26 goals and 38 assists and 68 PIMS. The only other teams he has more points against are Colorado and Edmonton...The Flames have 118 wins over Vancouver, the most over any opponent. The Flames have 106 wins over Los Angeles and 98 over Edmonton...Brendan Morrison faces his former team for the first time in Vancouver as a Flame. He played 543 games with the Canucks over eight seasons, collecting 317 points.The Sedin twins have combined for 99 points in 38 games this season...
FLAMES SCRATCHES: Based on the line rush combinations from the morning, it would appear Craig Conroy and Niklas Hagman will be healthy scratches. Daymond Langkow (neck); Raitis Ivanans (head) and Steve Staios (shoulder) are out with injuries.
Tanguay- Jokinen- Iginla
GAMETIME: 8 p.m., Rogers Arena. Sportsnet West and The Fan 960