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VERSTEEG 'ITCHING' TO RETURN

Veteran working hard for return to Flames' lineup

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Kris Versteeg is hoping to be up to scratch soon.

"I've reached the itch stage,'' reports the injured Flames' winger.

"The big itch stage.

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NHL DEBUT A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR KLIMCHUK

The forward put in 7:25 of ice time against the Bruins on Monday

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

In the immediate aftermath of a fantasy fulfilled, Morgan Klimchuk couldn't really pinpoint a pinch-me moment, per se.

But single out a steamroll-me moment?

That was easy.

"When (Zdeno) Chara ran me over,'' he said of the Boston Bruins' 6-foot-9, 250-pound colossus. "You think you can stand him up a bit …"

A soft head-shake born of fresh experience.

"But no."

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FLAMES READY FOR A FEISTY BRUINS SQUAD

Calgary is expecting a gritty, up-tempo tilt vs. Boston

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

One's in an owly mood.

The other, an ornery frame of mind.

"I think,'' reckoned Flames winger Michael Frolik, "what you have is two p--ed off teams.

"We weren't happy with what happened last game.

"And they couldn't have been, either."

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FLAMES EXTRA - CENTRE STAGE

Prospect Glenn Gawdin is having a stellar season in The Dub which is good news for an organization always looking for depth at his position

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

For its manufacturers, the play itself couldn't be considered anything spectacularly out of step.

 It's significance, though, was undeniable.

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BACKLUND A CORE PIECE IN CALGARY

Brad Treliving views Mikael Backlund as the type of player a team needs to win

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Mikael Backlund may have been the one assured of a nice pay bump over the ensuing six years, but Brad Treliving looked like the guy who'd just heard his 50/50 number called.

"He's an important player,'' said the Calgary Flames' general manager, having polished off a lengthy extension for the valuable Swedish centreman. "He's a part of the culture, the DNA, of our team.

"He looks after himself. He plays in a lot of situations, on both sides of the puck. Plays a premier position.

"He fits here. This is a guy who helps you win. We've locked up a core piece of our team.

"It's a great day.

"To get this done is a big piece of business."

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BACKLUND THRILLED TO STAY IN CALGARY LONG-TERM

Backlund and his fiancée Frida consider the city home

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

On a personal level, the 'til-death-do-us-part marriage vows with fiancée Frida are set for August.

On a professional level, Mikael Backlund couldn't wait quite that long to re-pledge his troth.

"We're keeping the 11 thing going,'' announced Backlund, after putting pen to paper (six copies) on a highly-anticipated contract extension Friday in the Calgary Flames' hockey-ops boardroom. 

"The wedding's on August 11. We were engaged on May 11. Frida was born 11/11."

And the trademark number on the back of Backlund's Flames' jersey, for any Calgarian encased in a cryogenic chamber or off meditating in a Tibetan monastery the past few years, just happens to be, of course, 11. 

And will be for six winters following this one.

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FLAMES EXTRA - BRINGING THE HEAT

Ryan Huska's journey to coaching was a unique one and has helped him develop the Stockton Heat Pipeline this season

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

The freshly-minted Western Hockey League's all-time career coaching wins leader won't go as far as to say he flat-out knew a quarter-century ago that the rangy, checking centreman from Cranbrook would someday join the fraternity.

But there were indications.

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EMBRACING THE CHALLENGE

Flames Goalie Mike Smith talks about the upcoming road trip and the road atmosphere

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

It's ear-splitting. It's rowdy. It's as claustrophobic-feeling as a building that shoehorns in 20,000 single-minded souls could possibly be.

In other words, it's right up Mike Smith's alley.

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FLAMES EXTRA - THE TEACHER

Jerrard takes pride in helping players improve their game

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

The date is impossible to forget.

"Friday the 13th,'' muses Paul Jerrard, going on 21 years later.

"What are the odds?"

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FLAMES REWIND - 04.02.18

The Johnny and Mony Show continues to get some of the best ratings in the league ... Giordano about to pass Otto in games played for franchise ... Frolik nearing career milestone

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

When you think of dynamic duos, any number of unforgettable combinations jump out at you.

Batman and Robin. Bert and Ernie. Burgers and fries. Mom and Dad. Holmes and Watson.

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