SUN Hockey Pool

Paint it red

STEVE MacFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Philippe Sauve's battle with Brent Krahn for the Flames backup goaltender job may not yet be over but the former was spotted with a flashy new mask on the Stampede Corral ice yesterday morning.

"I wanted a rodeo theme," said Sauve, whose new lid features a mean-looking black horse at the forehead and a couple of frightened rodeo clowns on the cheeks.

"It was in my stall this morning. I couldn't believe how fast it was."

But don't be hasty in assuming Sauve has the backup spot behind starter Miikka Kiprusoff locked up just because of the new paint job.

If he knows something the public doesn't, Sauve's not telling.

"I don't know. That's not my call," he said when asked if the mask meant he was going to be sticking around. "That's what I want, obviously."

POST PLAY: Flames forward Eric Nystrom's hard work sometimes results in hard hits.

During yesterday's practice at the Stampede Corral, the speedy winger fell victim to one from the goalpost.

After putting a nice outside move on defenceman Richie Regehr, the University of Michigan product was tripped up and slammed his leg hard into the iron before limping back into the corner to line up again for the one-on-one drill.

"I'm all right. I should have waited a few more minutes before I jumped back into the drill," said Nystrom, who later yelled in frustration while heading to the bench for some medical attention before rejoining his teammates on the ice. "I jumped back into it and just wasn't ready yet. I hit that post hard. Geez, I went in hard."

Nystrom's slick deke was to blame for the crash. His body got around Regehr but the puck didn't join him smoothly and created the trouble.

"The puck just kind of bounced up. If I would have had it flat I could have gone but I had to slow down a little bit to settle the puck down," Nystrom said. "My shin pad just happened to shift over so I banged it up a little bit.

"It's OK, though."

CUTS WILL WAIT: Nystrom, fellow winger Lynn Loyns and defencemen Regehr and Mark Giordano all are on the bubble as the opening-day roster reassignments loom this week.

But Flames GM/head coach said yesterday he planned on keeping his roster at 27 for at least another day or two.

"I'm really not going to hurry," said Sutter. "You start ramping your practices up now to get ready for the season.

"For these young guys, it's still really good (to be around).

"The holdovers, the mainstays of your team are still getting their reps and that's what's important."

The roster doesn't have to be down to the final 23 until tomorrow and Sutter says practising with five full lines and four pairs of defenders is currently an ideal situation.


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