SUN Hockey Pool

Playoff hopes finished if Flames lose Finn

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

As talented and deep as the Calgary Flames are, one thing is clear: The season is over if Miikka Kiprusoff gets hurt.

All talk of a Stanley Cup run ends if Curtis McElhinney is forced to shoulder the load.

Although not entirely to blame for being winless in six career starts, the seldom-used 25-year-old couldn't possibly be asked to step in under the toughest of circumstances this spring.

It's a risk Darryl Sutter is obviously willing to take, as the Flames GM outright refused to deviate from his goaltending plan by even considering trading for a veteran backup last week.

The salary cap likely had plenty more to say about that than his alleged confidence in the youngster.

Granted, outside of Boston, Jersey and Chicago, most NHL clubs in the hunt couldn't overcome a playoff injury to their starter.

The situation here is even more glaring given McElhinney's record and inexperience as well as the club's inability to support the young 'tender.

In McElhinney's six losses, the Flames have scored just eight goals.

Indeed, Kiprusoff is one of the most durable and reliable netminders in hockey, making Sutter's stance a calculated gamble -- a risk many Flames fans are quietly terrified of.

Now more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world reminding NHL GMs that given the economy, now isn't the time to try curbing fighting.

AROUND THE HORN

For those wondering, it is in fact legal to punch anyone in your office this week who thinks they're funny by bellowing out a "Hurry Hard." For the record, there has never been a funny curling joke, outside of the line suggesting it's Canada's premier sporting event ... After being told for years by consultants that no one tunes into local TV newscasts for sports highlights or information, Global Calgary recently decided to drop sports from its 6 p.m. newscasts. The sports staff will instead contribute to sports/lifestyle features and the late-evening sportscast ... Chuckwagon driver/stuntman Jason Glass has been on the mend all winter with a broken wrist suffered in a stunt on the Calgary set of CBC's Wild Roses. "I went to work that morning knowing I was going to get hurt," said Glass of the stunt that involved being violently thrown to the pavement after being hit by a car ... It was three years ago I sat alone with Gordie Howe in the back of the convention centre and made one of the toughest men alive cry simply by asking about his wife, whose lengthy battle with Pick's disease (dementia) ended Friday. Colleen's illness tormented the classy legend for seven years.

PARTING SHOTS

Calgary entrepreneur, Dragon's Den panelist and pending Nashville Predators owner Brett Wilson on his good friend Jim Balsillie's future in the NHL: "Did Jim make some mistakes along the way? According to the league, he sure did. (But) I have trouble believing that just because he was a bully in the eyes of a few owners that can't be solved over time." ... As out of touch as the ever-entertaining Don Cherry is proving to be these days, is it too much to ask the self-professed hockey czar to pronounce Iginla correctly just once? ... Scary prospect for the Flames, who seemed destined to face the Vancouver Canucks in the first round: Roberto Luongo is 12-1 in his last 13 starts, allowing more than two goals just once in his last nine ... Gerry Dee -- the only reason left to watch The Score since it abandoned its 24-hour highlight format -- just brought his standup act to the new Yuk-Yuk's in Calgary where the brilliant teacher-turned-comic sold out five shows ... Just wondering: Is it too early to see the humour in 82-year-old wrestling legend Verne Gagne body-slamming a 97-year-old fellow nursing home patient, breaking his hip and eventually killing him? Thought so.


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