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Baertschi close to returning to the lineup

Friday, 22.02.2013 / 2:28 PM / News
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)

CALGARY, AB -- Sven Baertschi has been through this before.

Baertschi has played nine NHL games in his career, scoring three goals in that span. He has been held pointless through his first four games this year.

He's been forced to sit in press boxes and watch games while riding the bike down in the locker room. He's gone through solo skates and has spent plenty of time in the gym, staying in shape as his body recovers from various maladies. He's poured over video, talked to coaches and used his time on the sidelines to gain a new perspective on the game.

And no matter how much experience a player has with being injured, it is still incredibly aggravating.

"It's been a long time now," Baertschi said with a shake of his head. "You never like to be injured. You just wait the whole time ... you want to be out there on the ice.

"It's tough. For me, I really hate it."

However, he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Baertschi ditched the no-contact jersey this morning and head coach Bob Hartley stated there is a possibility the winger will suit up tomorrow night against the Minnesota Wild.

"Sven is getting close. Tomorrow morning, we're going to look at him again. I felt he had a good practice today. He is still working with the medical staff."

The Bern, SUI product suffered a hip flexor injury late last month when his left skate caught a rut in the ice and he fell in an awkward position. He has missed 11 games and while he is anxious to get back into the swing of things, he did use his time wisely while he was sidelined.

He worked on improving his upper body strength - something Hartley singled out as an area Baertschi needed to work on - and tried to stay in game-shape.

"Lots of time in the gym," he chuckled.

The coaching staff worked extensively with Baertschi throughout his recovery process, giving him suggestions as to what to focus on while he watched games.

"Don't watch the game like a fan; watch certain players in certain positions, how they react, certain veterans and how they read and react to certain plays," were the instructions from Bob Hartley. "Any 20 year-old kid in this league comes in with lots of talent, lots of great qualities to offer but also has to learn about the NHL game."

As he moves forward, Baertschi is putting the past couple of weeks behind him and feels like he has a fresh start to the year. Pointless through his first four games of the season, the winger is looking to pick up the pace offensively when he returns.

"You start from zero," he grinned. "I'm excited about it. It's a new challenge ... I'm a little more fired up now.

"I want to bring energy, I want to bring a little fire. I'm going to try to work as hard as I can out there."