The NHL regular season has yet to start and already the Calgary Flames are soothing their pain.
Mikael Backlund, who was about to begin the year as the top-line centre, has undergone surgery for a broken left pinky finger and could miss two to six weeks in recovery.
A former first-round draft pick, Backlund played in 73 games last season scoring 10 goals and 15 assists. The Flames traded veteran Daymond Langkow to the Phoenix Coyotes in part because they wanted to give more ice time to their younger centre.
Backlund isn’t the only forward with an injury concern. Brendan Morrison is still working his way back from knee surgery while captain and leading scorer Jarome Iginla did not play in any preseason games. He has not participated in contact practice sessions with his teammates, either.
Iginla said last week that has back, which underwent spasms on the first day of training camp, is feeling better but that that he’s taking it slowly as per the training staff’s instructions.
The Flames open the season Saturday at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Likely to be playing centre for Calgary will be Olli Jokinen, Matt Stajan, David Moss and Roman Horak, who was acquired earlier this year in a trade with the New York Rangers.