Flames notes: MacDonald joins crowded crease
Former Wings goalie adds depth, fuels speculation that Kiprusoff is further away from a return than first thought
Leland Irving and Danny Taylor were on the ice. Miikka Kiprusoff was in the showers.
And Joey MacDonald was on the way.
The Calgary Flames’ crease — after Monday’s snatching of MacDonald off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings — got cluttered Monday morning.
Not to mention somewhat confusing.
It’ll stay that way for the time being.
Because Bob Hartley declined to discuss the transaction (“We have a big game and that’s where my focus is”). The Flames coach deferred to general manager Jay Feaster, who announced, through the team’s public-relations staff, that he wouldn’t be addressing the media until the following day, Tuesday.
Till then, speculation reigns.
Perhaps Kiprusoff — sidelined by a knee injury — is hurt worse than previously thought? Moving gingerly, the Finn took only light shots Monday morning from goalie coach Clint Malarchuk prior to the team’s session.
If that’s the case — even a three-week drydocking, note, would equal more than 10 dates — the team may feel more comfortable with a well-travelled veteran like MacDonald on the premises than a fresh face like Taylor, who was signed by the Flames only days ago.
Taylor, to his NHL credit, has 20 minutes total; MacDonald, 5,584.
MacDonald, last season, split his time between the Red Wings (8-5-1, 2.16 goals against average) and their American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids (11-11-3, 2.63).
“I would say he’s a standup kind of goalie,” said Blake Comeau, who toiled alongside MacDonald in Long Island and in AHL Bridgeport. “He’s a good guy. Really upbeat, really positive, so he’ll be a really nice addition to our locker-room.”
ROOKIE SKATING AGAIN
Rookie Sven Baertschi (hip flexor, week to week) joined his chums for Monday morning’s skate.
“I’m getting there,” said Baertschi. “I’m definitely getting more comfortable. This is my third skate so far. Feels good to get the skating legs going again.”
He may be wearing the yellow don’t-hit-me smock, but there have been no setbacks.
“We’re happy with where he’s at,” said Hartley. “He was good (Sunday) — I gave him a good little fry on the ice. He responded well.”
Baertschi, for the first time since being injured Jan. 29 in practice, explained what happened.
“I caught a rut in the ice with my left leg . . . and it went totally to the left side,” said the 20-year-old. “I kind of made the splits and went over the flexibility that I have. Instead of (the leg being) 100 per cent out, it was like 120. Just kind of snapped.”
Baertschi added that it’s unrelated to the hip injury that sidelined him for five weeks early last season.
“That was more like a bruise,” he explained. “It’s different this time.”
Winger Michael Cammalleri (hip flexor, day to day) also practised with the team. But he’s not ready yet.
“He’s getting much better,” said Hartley. “He skated (Sunday). He’s closer. Whenever you see players on the ice, it’s always a good sign. We will never put players in a situation where we feel our medical staff wouldn’t be good with it.”
SARICH GRIT RETURNS
After four healthy scratches, defenceman Cory Sarich drew back in Monday against the Minnesota Wild.
The short straw went to Derek Smith, who sat out.
So far, with the top four apparently written in stone — Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman — the other three, including Chris Butler, have rotated.
All have been healthy scratches. Expect Anton Babchuk to soon be in that mix, too.
“We don’t want any of our players out of the lineup for too long of a time,” said Hartley. “It was time to bring Cory back into the lineup.”
Sarich, of course, is one of the team’s most aggressive chaps.
“Leadership. Grit. He’s a very solid veteran,” said Hartley. “He’s won (a Stanley Cup) in Tampa. I don’t think Cory Sarich’s game has changed from the first day that he played his first game in this league. He’s a trouper, an in-your-face kind of guy. Physical. Solid.”
Ben Street made his NHL debut Saturday in Vancouver. From that memorable event are two keepsakes.
One, the gamesheet.
“Friends of mine have theirs framed,” said Street, who turns 26 on Wednesday. “It’s something you looked at, ‘Oh, I’d like to have that some day.’ Really cool to be able to get one of those.”
The other? The embarrassment of being victimized by one of the oldest gags in the book. For warm-up, he had been first out of the players’ gate at Rogers Arena. Then the rest of the players held up momentarily, so Street was forced to skate a solo loop in front of a sellout crowd.
“I talked to Lance Bouma,” said Street, “and he said, ‘They might make you do a lap on your own.’ So when they said, ‘Go ahead. Go first,’ I figured that’s what was happening. So I was trying real hard not to take a spill.”
KOIVU HITS MILESTONE
Monday, Mikko Koivu suited up for his 500th game. Only Nick Schultz (743), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (534) and Marian Gaborik (502) have dressed for more Wildmen dates.
“Five hundred games when you play the game like that? Even more impressive,” said Minnesota skipper Mike Yeo. “I cannot recall a single game when I’ve been coaching when I thought, ‘Boy, his effort, his battle level, is less than what you’d expect.’ It’s unbelievable, when you watch the video, how hard he competes on pucks, how he works, just the overall emotion he plays the game with.
“I’m glad we get to come to Canada and, hopefully, his 500th game is a game that everyone starts talking and taking notice of him because he’s a player that’s vastly under-rated and deserves a lot more attention.”
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
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