A NEW FACE IN NET
When asked about the possibility of Leland Irving taking over the netminding duties tonight in Anaheim, head coach Brent Sutter offered a wry grin and told the assembled media to "read between the lines."
The lines the bench boss was referring to was the fact Irving had been recalled on Wednesday and that Miikka Kiprusoff's usual caddy, Henrik Karlsson, has collected just one point this season.
"At some point in time, we’ve got to give Kipper a break. My thought process is that I want to go with the goalie who has got us some points and won us some games.
"I have to go with the guy who has won us some games and got us some points. Take it the way you want. That’s the bottom line. We need to win games."
In five games this season, Irving has failed to collect a point in only one game. In a few of those games, he was the key reason the Flames made it into overtime to secure at least a single point and he always has possessed the poise needed in high-pressure, tight games.
"Yeah, it’s an exciting time for me," Irving said. "But more importantly, we need the two points. We’re in a fight right now. I'm just going to go out there and try to do the best I can to give these guys a chance to win."
Irving spent quite a bit of time with the Flames earlier in the season when Karlsson was recovering from a lower body injury but didn't see a ton of action during that span. When Karlsson returned from his two-week conditioning stint in Abbotsford, Irving was shuffled back down and was able to get a lot more ice time.
"It was great," he said of his time with the Heat. "Shook the rust off a bit after the first (game) and kind of got back to where I needed to be after that. It's a good confidence booster for sure."
The constant jumping back and forth may seem tenuous from the outside looking in but the 23 year-old is making the most of the opportunities it is presenting for him.
"It's an adjustment," he admitted. "But it's exciting. I'm getting the best of both worlds. I get to play down there and looks like I might get to play up here. I'm just trying to make the best of it right now."
According to Irving, the biggest difference he has noticed between the NHL and the AHL is the speed. When he's playing with the Flames, his timing and positioning has to be perfect as players are able to get their shots off a lot quicker than he has experienced at the American League level.
"The guys can really fire it up here. You don't have near as much time ... for a smaller guy like me, I've got to get out there and try to play big."
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Matt Stajan needs 1 goal for 100.
Jay Bouwmeester needs 1 game for 700.
Mike Cammalleri needs 8 goals for 200.
Mark Giordano needs 9 assists for 100.
Scott Hannan needs 4 points for 200.