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Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blues

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames


Trying to play through a bruise associated with a cracked bone in his foot, Mikael Backlund is set to return after missing Friday's 5-1 setback from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Backlund said the injury, originally suffered in a March 15th game against the Nashville Predators, isn't on his mind when he hits the ice.

"When I'm out there playing I don't think about it," said Backlund, who has seven points in 14 games this season. "Obviously it's not fully recovered but it's not bothering me through games. It wasn't my best road trip so I've got to find a way back and get better."

Both he and coach Bob Hartley had a lengthy chat at Sunday's morning skate.

"I believe in communication and making sure that we're all on the same page, that the roles are clear and everything," Hartley said. "I had a good chat with him. He's a fine young man. He wants to learn. He wants to do good. We just have to add a few pages in his book."


Though they've have dropped nine straight on the road, the Flames are currently riding a six-game winning streak at home ice - a motivator Calgary is more than aware of.

"We've got to remember how good we've been at home and find a way to get back there and look forward," Backlund said. "The road is in the past, the last road trip. We've got a chance here now to play a home game. We've just got to find a way back and play the same way we did before the road trip."

It's the attention to detail on Scotiabank Saddledome ice that have helped them to an 8-5-2 record at home, according to Dennis Wideman.

"I think just our attention to detail at home has been better," he said. "We probably play a little harder in our own zone and we break the puck out a little quicker. We just seem to have a better all-round game at home than on the road."

Sitting seven points out of 8th in the Western Conference chase, Sunday's game against the Blues offers the Flames an opportunity to get back on track.

"We play great at home and right now we have a chance to rebuild our confidence, lick our wounds a little bit and go back to work," Hartley said. "That's what we expect and that's what our fans expect."


Tackling a St. Louis team that has allowed just six goals in their last five games won't be easy, though.

The reigning Central Division champions are coming off a textbook 3-0 shutout of the Edmonton Oilers and, despite playing less than 24 hours ago, are a significant mountain to climb.

"We know they're going to come hard," Backlund said. "We just got to be prepared for that and be ready to skate hard tonight. It's going to be a tough game tonight. I think the key is just to have a good skating night and forecheck and we've got to get back to being really strong defensively."

The last time St. Louis came to town, they left with a 5-2 victory. Four different players scored for the Blues, including a pair from David Perron. It's their depth that poses the most significant challenge Sunday, said Wideman.

"Whenever you've got a team like this coming in you know that they're pretty deep and solid from top to bottom and it's going to be obviously a tough task tonight," Wideman said. "We know what lies ahead of us going into a game like that, you know you've got to bring your best."


The Flames come into Sunday's game against St. Louis rested after stepping away from the rink on Saturday.

"We felt that to bring the guys in after with such a tough schedule being right in the middle of it, we felt it would be counter-productive to bring them in," Hartley said. "Give them a chance to spend a little time at home with the babies and the wives and refocus, regroup, reload and today it's another challenge."

The rest was welcomed by Wideman.

"Obviously when you're playing as many games as we are right now, it's important to get your rest and get as much sleep as possible," he said. "We got in pretty late. I know we gained the two hours but it still felt like we got in at 4 a.m.. It's good to get your sleep and recharge your batteries."

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