On the surface, it would be easy to believe the Calgary Flames tried a new tact to help their struggling scorers gain some confidence.
It may have backfired.
Retired goalie and now goalie coach Jamie McLennan took to the ice in place of Miikka Kiprusoff during Thursday’s practice.
It’s been a few years since the affable netminder has faced NHL shooters, but he didn’t seem to miss a beat, much to the chagrin of the Flames who were shutout for the fourth time at home since the start of January in Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
“I thought he was the first star,” said assistant coach Dave Lowry. “He was good. I don’t think he’s been just coaching. He’s in better shape now than when he played.”
Kiprusoff and fellow Olympians Jarome Iginla and Niklas Hagman were given the day off, so the club turned to McLennan to mind the twine, while newcomer Vesa Toskala was in the other net.
“Give him a contract. The guy can play. He looked awesome, didn’t he?” centre Craig Conroy said of McLennan’s performance.
“I buried one five-hole on him. I figured him out towards the end. It took me a while, too.
“Either he was great or maybe we just struggled a little bit.”
Don’t think those kudos were false. McLennan was making his share of saves on the Saddledome ice.
“Oh, they scored a few,” he admitted. “They took it easy on me.”