Backup not feeling blue

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:46 PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A few years ago, Brian Boucher probably wouldn't have been happy with his current role as the Calgary Flames' insurance man.

The competitive goaltender admits his time in the Stampede City hasn't been entirely easy. With Miikka Kiprusoff firmly established as one of the best stoppers in the league, Boucher has had to be patient while waiting, then waiting a little longer, to play.

"I'm accustomed to playing a little bit more than I have, so it's been a bit of an adjustment for me," admitted Boucher, who hasn't played since Feb. 10, the last game before the Olympic break and, to date, his only start for the Flames. "You want to compete and you want to contribute in a team setting. That's what can be frustrating for anybody who wants to help out. I want to contribute, I want to help these guys out. But at the same time, you've got to stay patient."

Boucher has been patient and says he loves being a part of the dressing-room environment on a team striving for success.

"I think in the past I maybe would have got upset a little bit. I'm older now and more mature and I understand the situation," he said.

"Just mentally, you kind of have to cool off a little bit, not be looking so much at the schedule ... then be disappointed that you don't get the game."

But with his team on the road for a seven-game trip that takes them through six cities and includes a pair of back-to-back contests, Boucher can't help but eye the schedule.

"I'm a guy who wants to get in there and play ... obviously I've been looking at it," said Boucher. "Hopefully now I'll get one or two of those games."

An outsider peering at the itinerary would peg tomorrow's game in Minnesota and Friday's game in Columbus -- both tail ends of back-to-backs -- as logical spots for Boucher to start.

But Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter said earlier this week it would depend on Kiprusoff's workload and results.

With the Northwest Division title race going down to the wire, Boucher has no intention of hammering on his coaches' doors and demanding more ice time.

"With Kipper being our guy, there's no sense in giving him a rest, I guess, if you can't get to the dance," said Boucher, who often aims his sharp sense of humour at himself with one-liners about being Kipper's backup.

"With that mindset, you have to understand that you've got to do what's right for the team.

"When the coaches feel that he needs a rest, they'll give him a rest. I'm sure they'll do it when they think it's right."

In the meantime, Boucher is doing what he can to stay sharp for when the call comes.

That means extra work before and after practice with goaltending coach David Marcoux and challenging his teammates when a drill happens to provide the opportunity.

Marcoux, who has had about a month to work with Boucher since his arrival as part of a four-player trade Feb. 3, says his pupil's attitude has been an asset.

"He understands the situation with Miikka and he can be sarcastically comical about it. It's fun," said Marcoux. "He's matured a lot when you look back at when he came into the league."


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