TAMPA _ Nobody asked me, but....

The Flyers should give goalie Johan Backlund his first NHL start Wednesday in Tampa.

I know, I know. Backlund only has a few months' of experinee in North America, where the game is much faster and the rinks are much smaller than in his native Sweden.

So what?

The way the Flyers are going _ 14 losses in their last 17 games _ it can't get any worse. Besides, the Flyers might actually rally around a young netminder and show more determination in front of him.

Coach Peter Laviolette said he would decide Wednesday morning on his goalie. Backlund was recalled Tuesday from the AHL Phantoms because Brian Boucher lacerated his right ring finger Monday and is day to day.

The choices are Michael Leighton, who is fair at best, or the unknown Backlund.

Roll the dice, Lt. Laviolette. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Swede will give the Flyers a spark that helps them go on a little roll.

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Attention, last-minute Christmas shoppers: If you're looking for gift suggestions, there are two books that would be great additions to anyone's personal library: Orange, Black & Blue, written by Chuck Gormley, and Pelle Lindbergh: Behind the White Mask, written by Bill Meltzer and Thomas Tynander