Johan Backlund called it "a dream" to reach the NHL.
That dream will be realized Friday, when Backlund dresses for the Flyers' season opener in Carolina.
Because of an injury to Brian Boucher, Backlund will start the season as the Flyers’ backup goalie, general manager Paul Holmgren said Sunday.
Boucher suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Saturday’s 1-0 exhibition loss in New Jersey and is expected to miss seven to 10 days. Holmgren said.
Signed as a free agent in March, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Backlund excelled in the Swedish Elite League last season, compiling a 2.56 goals-against average and four shutouts. He had a 2.32 GAA in his last three seasons.
“It’s a faster game here because of the smaller rinks, and you have to be a little more prepared as a goalie,” said Backlund, 28, who made 27 saves as the Adirondack Phantoms scored a 2-1 shootout win over Albany Friday in an AHL exhibition. “There’s more scoring chances.”
The Flyers had recently sent Backlund to the Phantoms to give him some work, but he will rejoin the team at Monday's practice and see some action in Tuesday's exhibition against visiting Minnesota.
Originally, the Flyers had wanted starting goalie Ray Emery to play tomorrow’s entire game, the final exhibition before Friday’s opener in Carolina. Now, Emery will probably play half of Tuesday's game to get Backlund some work, Holmgren said.
In his only preseason game with the Flyers, Backlund allowed two goals in 29 minutes against Toronto. He made 12 saves in the Flyers' 4-0 loss in London, Ontario.
Asked about the severity of Boucher’s injury, Holmgren said, “Right now, we believe it’s just minor, a little tweak, and we’ll monitor it closely. He’ll spend a lot of time with (trainer) Jimmy McCrossin rehabilitating it.”
The Flyers must submit their opening roster by 3 p.m. Wednesday. They probably will keep 23 players, and rookie wingers James van Riemsdyk and Mika Pyorala figure to be included.
Holmgren acknowledged that if he had to submit the roster Monday, both would be on it.
The GM will talk with Blair Betts’ agent Monday, attempting to finalize a contract for the fourth-line center.
Breakaways. Emery’s flashy preseason numbers: 1.76 GAA and a .944 save percentage…. Holmgren on the 28-year-old Pyorala, who has spent eight-plus seasons in Europe: “He’s played very well. He’s an older guy who’s very adaptable to lot of different roles and shown he can kill penalties. He’s capable of playing with offensive guys and he’s also a defensive guy.”
Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.