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Goalie nods: Niklas Backstrom’s back

Niklas Backstrom

Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, center, of Finland, leaves the NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)


Niklas Backstrom is a great reminder that individual players have plenty on the line, even if their teams seem like they’re out of the playoff mix.

Quite frankly, the former Minnesota Wild goalie, debuting for the Calgary Flames, is up against more than the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

He’s also facing a mountain of rust as a goalie who hasn’t played an NHL game in more than a year. Let’s be honest, too: he wasn’t exactly distinguishing himself in 2014-15, at least not in a good way, so Backstrom has a lot to prove on Sunday.

Ideally for him, he’d earn a chance to prove himself a few more time this season if things roll the right way.

On the other side of the ice, Mike Condon hopes to finish his bumpy season with the Habs on a high note.

Elsewhere ...

Ducks at Jets: John Gibson vs. Michael Hutchinson

Wild at Blackhawks: Devan Dubnyk vs. Scott Darling

Avalanche at Oilers: Calvin Pickard vs. Laurent Brossoit

Coyotes at Sharks: Mike Smith vs. James Reimer

Blue Jackets at Devils: Possibly Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Scott Wedgewood

Capitals at Penguins: Possibly Braden Holtby vs. Marc-Andre Fleury