SUN Hockey Pool

Giordano willing to face every shot

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:14 AM ET

CHICAGO — Taking a puck to the face might make most people shy away from the shooting lanes.

Especially when the blast leaves you with double-digit stitches to patch up an exploded top lip, a likely broken nose and swelling that makes it impossible to talk without a lisp or hiss of air escaping parts of the mouth that won’t close.

But Mark Giordano has no intention of getting out of the way.

After getting sewn up during Wednesday’s 7-2 loss in Calgary because a Vancouver Canucks shot was deflected and hit him right under his nose, he returned to the game — and one of the first things he did was voluntarily get in front of another puck.

“Obviously, if the block’s there, you’re gonna take it — it’s just a reaction thing,” Giordano said. “You get hit in the face. I’ve been hit in the face before. Usually, you see them coming.”

He didn’t see the one that messed up his face, but it didn’t stop him from getting in front of a couple more in Friday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul.

“It’s such a fluke play that you don’t worry about it too much. But it is a concern when it happens to you, because it could have been a lot worse,” Giordano said. “When I’m in front of our net, I try to keep my eye on the puck as much as I can, sealing out my guy. I’m tying up (an opponent), but I’m still trying to keep my eye on it.

“Once you lose sight of it, it could be trouble sometimes.”

It means even more trouble when he and the Flames don’t get in the shooting lanes.

That was something they are intent on improving, and they seemed to follow Giordano’s lead as they totalled 15 blocked shots Friday.

Giordano’s second in the NHL with 71 blocks.

He and Jay Bouwmeester tied atop the Flames leaderboard with 126 apiece a year ago.

“I just think he takes a lot of pride in that. You look at games where he’s actually blocking eight, nine, 10 shots in a night. He purposely does it. He’s fearless that way. He’s prepared to do whatever it takes,” Flames head coach Brent Sutter said of his blueliner. “That says a lot about his character and what his makeup is. Blocking shots is a big part of the game today. Every team does it, and they take pride in doing it. We need to do a better job of it. If you can keep pucks from getting to your net, it’s huge. It’s gonna hurt, but it’s just what you need to do in today’s game.”

As far as pain goes, the wounds on Giordano’s face now — forcing him to wear a full cage in Friday’s game against the Wild — take top billing, replacing the Mathieu Schneider shot he took off the side of the head during the deciding Game 6 of the 2007 playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings at the Saddledome.

“That was definitely harder — it was a one-time slapshot, I think, but I got hit in a better spot with that one,” Giordano recalled of the Schneider shot, tracing the scar over his right ear. “This one was a lot worse, I think, for me, pain-wise.

“It hurt. The stitches went in, and I was a little bit worried something else could have cracked.

“Thank God, it didn’t.”

Aside from his nose, of course. And his teeth aren’t quite considered safe.

“A few of them got rocked — they’re a little loose,” Giordano said. “They haven’t fallen out yet, but I’m gonna chew on the one side to make sure hopefully I keep them.”

He may also keep a shield or visor even when he’s fully recovered, because he doesn’t plan to quit putting himself in harm’s way.

“It’s something I’ve thought about. I’ll definitely consider it,” Giordano added. “It’s scary, man. That puck’s a little bit higher, who knows. You think about it. Shields aren’t the worst thing. They’re a good thing. We’ll see.

“Who knows?

“Maybe after getting hit like that, it’s something maybe I’d try.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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