That's where you want to be. Once you get a shot at the NHL, you want to stick there, you want to be there. I'm grateful for the Flames to give me the opportunity here and it's great for me to get a chance here in the last eight or nine games to show for next year. - Joey MacDonald
CALGARY, AB -- A back injury delayed the start to his season.
Once healthy, it continued with a demotion to the American Hockey League by the Detroit Red Wings.
And looking back, Joey MacDonald never thought it'd be coming to a close as a member of the Calgary Flames.
Buried behind Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson and with prospect Petr Mrazek nipping at his heels two months ago, MacDonald didn't envision in February that he'd finish his season playing in Calgary.
"It's an opportunity that I didn't think at first would happen," admitted MacDonald, plucked off waivers by the Flames on February 11th. "Being in Detroit, being the third guy, they send me down to the minors and next thing you know, I'm here and playing a lot.
"That's where you want to be. Once you get a shot at the NHL, you want to stick there, you want to be there. I'm grateful for the Flames to give me the opportunity here and it's great for me to get a chance here in the last eight or nine games to show for next year."
MacDonald's time in Calgary has been busier than the six-foot, 197-pound goaltender could've ever imagined, too.
He joined the club after Miikka Kiprusoff suffered a sprained knee that forced the starter to miss 13 games. The injury opened the door for MacDonald to see the most minutes he's played at the National Hockey League level since the 2008-09 season when he played in 49 contests as a member of the New York Islanders.
To date, MacDonald has seen 969 minutes of action for the Flames. Outside of Kiprusoff himself, no Flames goaltender has seen that much action in a single season since the club's all-time winningest goaltender was acquired on November 16th, 2003.
That number could grow, too.
With six games in 11 days remaining on the docket for the Flames, it's a virtual lock that Monday's game against the Minnesota Wild isn't the last time MacDonald will tend to Calgary's crease.
That's not a definite, but the 33-year-old keeper isn't opposed to the idea.
"I haven't really heard," MacDonald said. "I just go game-for-game and between me and Kipper, we just laugh about it and whatever happens, happens. We've just got to give the team a chance every night and things will work."
Regardless of if, when and how many more minutes MacDonald is in line for over the final two weeks of the season, the journeyman backup has relished the opportunity to see so much action.
"I think overall every night we had a chance to win," he said. "It's a good situation. It was tough coming in not playing for 11 months with my back, but overall it's been successful."
Successful on a personal level, that is. MacDonald admitted the team result wasn't exactly one he was hoping to see.
"You want to be playing right until the bitter end," said MacDonald, whose two-year, two-way contract is set to expire at the conclusion of the season. "It's disappointing but on the other hand, you've got to work hard. It doesn't matter if there's eight, nine, 10, 12, whatever games left.
"You've got to battle for jobs for next year and show them that you want to play every night."
A final opportunity for the PIctou, Nova Scotia product to showcase himself this season.