DALLAS - Joey MacDonald, the pride of Pictou, N.S., receives the start in goal tonight at American Airlines Center.
Eased out of the picture by the emergence of Karri Ramo, then Reto Berra and Joni Ortio, MacDonald’s last turn as a Calgary Flame came way back on Nov. 1, surrendering four goals on 22 shots during a home loss to Detroit. He’s spent the ensuing time in Abbotsford toiling for the AHL Heat.
And there’s no arguing he’s being thrown into the deep end of the pool. Dallas has torched Calgary in two head-to-head-meetings this season, paddling Bob Hartley’s boys by a collective score of 12-4 (5-1 here in Big D; 7-3 at the Scotiabank Saddledome).
With Ramo close to returning from a knee injury and Ortio entrenched in the 1A job, this will surely be MacDonald’s one chance before being shipped back to B.C.
He’ll be opposed at the opposite end of the rink tonight by Dallas trade-deadline acquisition Tim Thomas.
"It’s good to get Mac in there,’’ explained Hartley following Friday’s morning skate. "We also felt that Joni (Ortio) has had a great run. We wanted to try and give him two days to prepare for Phoenix.
"For Dallas and Phoenix these are two huge games. Those guys are fighting for the last playoff spot. So it’s a great situation for us. It allows us to play both goalies.’’
With teams battling for playoff positions, the role of ‘spoiler’ doesn’t interest Hartley in the slightest.
"I don’t put any value in being a spoiler. I want us to play well. Tonight, tomorrow night we’re playing teams ... those are vital games for them. I want us to match their intensity, to be better than them. We said coming back from the Olympic break that we wanted to be in a playoff mindset, well, it can’t get better than tonight.
"So playing spoiler? I don’t really care about this. I want us to play well.’’
Both team are trying to build on big victories. The Flames smoked the Anaheim Ducks 7-2 at the ‘Dome, while Dallas, under the shadow of the sudden, shocking collapse of Rich Peverley due to a heart condition on the bench Tuesday night, went in to St. Louis and trumped the Blues 3-2 in OT less than 24 hours later.
"Situations like Rich Peverley, those are not injuries, they’re facts of life,’’ said Hartley. "They care. Players care for each other. You spend so much time together, in the dressing room, on the road, starting from training camp. There are solid bonds being built around a team. When situations like this happen, it gets even stronger.
"They lost a great player. But they can get even stronger with this.’’
The game versus the Blues was proof positive.
"That’s a sign of character. They deserve a lot of credit. That’s not an easy situation - To see a guy leave for the hospital while you have to leave for the airport to play the next night. Those are real tough. But they handled it really well. And that’s why they’re a playoff team.’’
For the older folk on site, Hartley pulled out a days-of-yore Saturday morning cartoon reference that brought back smiles.
When asked about Curtis Glencross’s return from a high ankle sprain on Wednesday, he said:
"I hate every injury. But leg injuries just shut down players. We skated him real hard. We got him going.
"You can work the upper body all you want but it’s Fred and Barney that get you going. When they sit in the car for too long, it’s never good.’’
Gotta love those Flintstones.
NOTES: Stars’ G Kari Lehtonen (concussion) practiced before his teammates Friday and is anticipating a Sunday return ... Both Cody Eakin and Shawn Horcoff will miss tonight after being hit by pucks and are listed as day-to-day. game against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center. Travis Morin and Chris Mueller have been recalled from the AHL Texas Stars to fill the temporary void.
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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