Coach Bob Hartley confirmed Joey MacDonald will make his first NHL start since March 14, 2012 when the Calgary Flames challenge the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on Sunday.
“We have plans for Dallas and it’s Joey MacDonald starting,” Hartley confirmed.
In his only action since last March, MacDonald saw nearly 56 minutes of action in relief of Leland Irving in Friday’s 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
“We feel that he played last night and we want to see where his game is at,” Hartley said. “I felt that he came in, in a tough situation and just like Leland, they both got beat by Grade A shots. There’s no way we’re faulting either of those guys. I felt that they battled. They did their job. We just didn’t protect them. That’s the message this morning to the entire team.”
Getting some action in against the Blues before taking on Dallas will help calm the nerves, the 33-year-old netminder said.
“I’ve been playing the game for a long time,” MacDonald said. “I’ve been working hard here for the last month and a half and getting a taste last night took some of the edge off last night, getting in there and feeling it. Tomorrow night’s just the same thing.”
COMEAU GETS FIRST-LINE LOOK
Not afraid to mix up his lines, Hartley’s skate Saturday featured Blake Comeau at center between Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross.
It’s a combination the Flames coach didn’t shy away from revealing they’d try the trio in game action against the Stars.
“What you see is what you get, we’re going to try Coms at center,” Hartley said. “We have a shortage at center, plain and simple. He’s a hard worker. We’re trying to bring grit and passion to our lineup."
The 26-year-old said he was more than ready for the opportunity.
“I’m excited for the challenge,” he said. “Obviously I’ve got to be the one who’s communicating out there, being responsible in the defensive zone. Playing with two guys like Glennie and Jarome, get in on the forecheck and try to create some havoc and go to the net.”
Comeau, a former 24-goal scorer as a member of the New York Islanders, feels his game is on the upswing and it’s just a matter of time before he finds the back of the net.
“There’s been some times at night where I’ve felt like banging my head off the headboard but it’s important that I am getting the chances and things aren’t going in for you," he said. "I think it’s important to look at the positives and realize you are getting the chances and I think it’s only a matter of time until one goes in for me and then hopefully they’ll start coming in bunches.”
ATTENTION TURNS TO TURNOVERS
The Flames have adjusted quickly to Hartley’s offensive scheme, but the coach feels Calgary needs to further address play in their own end.
“What we’re creating is fine, it’s what we’re giving,” Hartley said. “We’re not Amnesty International. We’re way too generous. We need to play to win some games. We played a great second and third period, but at the end of the day it’s a waste.”
More specifically, Hartley said the Flames need to limit the number of bad turnovers.
“For me it’s the bad giveaways,” Hartley said. “Bad giveaways and you can almost get closed to stupid giveaways. That’s what kills us. It seems that we have to double up and understand the urgency of playing well in our zone. It seems that, the word fear is not a good word because you should have no fear when you play the game. You should be confident and whatever happens, happens.”
BAERTSCHI NEARING RETURN
After spending some time skating on his own, Sven Baertschi is getting closer to a return to the Flames lineup.
Baertschi, who suffered a hip flexor injury on January 29th, wont play on Calgary’s two-game road swing against Dallas and the Phoenix Coyotes but could make the trip with teammates.
“With our medical staff, we’ll evaluate if he’s good enough to be on the trip with us – definitely not play but just get him with the team and maybe tomorrow morning he can skate in Dallas,” Hartley said. “I’m not sure yet.”
The 20-year-old had rejoined his teammates for some skates at Scotiabank Saddledome, but was returned to a solo setting for precautionary reasons.
“He was with us for a couple of days and it didn’t feel right,” Hartley said. “We pulled him back, we got him back in the gym. For I believe the last two days he’s been skating by himself in the morning.”
Baertschi has played in just four games this season for the Flames.