Pucks hitting off the Mark

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

Pucks aren’t hitting Mark Giordano as often as they had been over the first half of the season.

But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Not only did the Calgary Flames blueliner take a beating — scars and a bumpy nose still prominent on his face from one particularly bad deflection — but bad bounces were finding their way into the net off fellow defenders too often early in the new year.

“Those are just lucky bounces,” Giordano said. “In saying that, maybe if there is a long shot that Kip’s (goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff) gonna handle pretty

easily, you don’t want to try and throw a tip in there or anything like that.

“Personally, I’m not trying to change anything. Tips — those are just lucky bounces.”

It’s good to know the NHL’s second-leading shot-blocker isn’t about to back down.

He’s not gun-shy despite requiring a batch of stitches inside and outside his upper lip this season that have left an obvious X-shaped scar, and a broken nose that still adds a slightly nasally echo to his words.

“It’s been healed for a while now,” Giordano said.

“Nose has gotten a lot

better. Teeth are all still intact. I’m feeling good.”

The numbers, though, have definitely dropped in recent weeks.

He still sat second behind the New York Rangers’ Dan Girardi with 128 blocks

Friday morning, but the gap has tightened behind him.

Greg Zanon, Toni Lydman and Francois Beauchemin are all less than a handful away.

After racking up eight in one game against the Edmonton Oilers on New Year’s Eve and 15 in a three-game span to start 2011, the Flames blueliner has only been hit with a dozen pucks in the last

10 games — well below his per-game average of 2.4.

“I don’t know. I think it’s just if you don’t get the opportunity, you can’t go out of your way to try and block shots. If it’s there, you take it. If not, you let your goalie see it,” said Giordano, who is heating up offensively again with a goal and five points in his last six games. “Sometimes it’s just not there. If they’re there, I’ll take them.”

Even if it means taking one in the face.

Rookie gets huge call

Lance Bouma’s first game with the Calgary Flames will be on one of the game’s biggest stages.

Called up from the AHL Abbotsford Heat Thursday and joining the team Friday, the 20-year-old winger is expected to make his debut on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night when the Flames host the Los Angeles Kings.

“It’s a dream come true,” Bouma told the Abbotsford Times. “Something you work towards your whole career is to be able to play in the National Hockey League, and I’m very excited and

looking to forward to the opportunity.”

The 6-foot-1, 210-lb. Provost product has 11 goals and

19 points in 49 AHL games this season and will be expected to provide energy in a fourth-line role with the Flames.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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