Flyers’ Backlund gets first NHL nod tomorrow in Pitt

Photo: LIFE

Like the ol’ saying persists, drastic times call for drastic decisions. For the Philadelphia Flyers and head coach Peter Laviolette, the decision looms within the goaltending issue.

Johan Backlund, 28, of Sweden will get his first NHL start tomorrow for the Flyers when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The recent relapse of starter Brian Boucher has caused Laviolette to finally make the change. Although, with just eight precious games remaining, a ongoing goalie issue is something the Flyers don’t want heading into the postseason.

If they actually make it to that point.

Backlund has been a reliable netminder for the Phantoms this season playing 41 games with a 21-17-2 record.

The Flyers are obviously looking for a much-needed boost as the regular season is closing in on the end, and Backlund is being put in to try to break the recent four-game losing streak.

“For me, it would be a great chance to play my first game and try to help the team,” Backlund said Friday.

Backlund has compiled a 2.76 goals against average and .906 save percentage so far with the Phantoms. The Swedish goaltender will admit that the transition to the NHL style of play hasn’t been the easiest of roads, he has learned a lot since coming over here.

“It’s been a learning process, especially in the beginning,” Backlund said. “I think after a couple of months you get used to it, and I feel pretty comfortable in the American Hockey League. I know there’s a big step to play here, but it felt good in practice so it feels like I’m ready.”

General Manager Paul Holmgren said Friday that he’s “anxious” to see what Backlund can bring to the table for the organization.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked in the American League and he’s won games single-handedly down there,” added Holmgren.

Since the Flyers have been in a downward spiral since the injuries to both Jeff Carter and Michael Leighton, a change between the pipes from the sluggish Boucher to Backlund might bring an extra punch to the team.

The Flyers are hanging on to the seventh seed playoff spot by a thread, so wins are a premium right now. Let’s see if a change at the goalie spot will light a fire under the keister’s of this Flyers team.


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