CALGARY, AB -- Two is company and three makes for a crowded crease in Calgary.
One of Henrik Karlsson or Leland Irving will find himself backing up Calgary Flames starter Miikka Kiprusoff to start the season. The other won’t be so fortunate when the Calgary Flames announce which goaltender will join the team’s franchise goaltender between the pipes this season.
“We decided from the very beginning that there was going to be a competition for that backup goaltender’s spot and that it was a legitimate competition as much as it can be a legitimate competition with three goaltenders and again no preseason games,” Jay Feaster said.
Which means the decision comes down to the body of work both put forth over the course of the last five days, according to the Flames general manager.
“Basically we were looking at the goaltenders in the context of the body of work they had this week from Sunday to Thursday,” said Feaster. “That was practice time. It was the scrimmages.”
On the eve of final cuts, Irving - who has played just six games with the Abbotsford Heat this season - is satisfied with the effort he put forth over the last week and suggested he would sleep easy.
“I’m happy with the way I played,” the 24-year-old said. “I worked hard during camp and just battled. I felt I did all I could. At the end of the day I’ve got to be happy with how my camp went.”
Similarly, Karlsson insinuated he was content with his body of work during camp.
“I think I’ve been doing my best,” Karlsson said. “I feel really good. I can look myself in the mirror and be pretty happy about it. We’ll see what happens.”
The decision of which goalie to keep hasn’t been taken lightly by the Flames.
An indication of how close the battle has been, Calgary opted to put both goaltenders on waivers to allow the club the flexibility to get in an extra viewing of the pair make their decision Thursday night.
Unable to waive either goaltender in time to finalize their 23-man roster, a process that needs to be submitted to the NHL by 5:00 PM EST Friday, Feaster needed to put both through the waiver process Thursday.
“We couldn’t waive anybody tomorrow,” he explained. “In order for us to allow that competition to continue today, we needed to be in a position that tomorrow when we have to submit the roster, we have to be able to move guys off the roster by noon Eastern Time.”
But the rewards associated with the move outweighed the risk in the eyes of Calgary’s general manager. Both he and head coach Bob Hartley managed to get in one more critical viewing of each goalie Thursday.
“We just felt it was really important that we allow that competition to continue,” Feaster said. “As of yesterday in our minds, it wasn’t a case that this guy is the clear winner, so we wanted the competition to continue today and the only way to do it and still enable to comply with the NHL roster requirement was to waive both guys.”
Which may have given Hartley and Feaster enough time to make their final decision, one both Irving and Karlsson appear comfortable with.
“I’m feeling really good,” Karlsson said. “I try to do whatever I can to get better every day and we’ll see what happens.”
Irving, a former first round pick of the Flames in 2006, echoed those sentiments.
“I’ve done my part and left it all on the ice so the decision’s out of my hands right now,” Irving said. “We’re going to take it one day at a time here and we’ll deal with what happens tomorrow.”
When the crease conundrum suddenly becomes less crowded in Calgary.