SUN Hockey Pool

Backup Karlsson to pressbox

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:44 AM ET

GLENDALE, ARIZ. - Being Miikka Kiprusoff’s backup isn’t the greatest job at the best of times.

Parking your butt behind the boards more often than not while watching others hop through the gate all night is tough for goalies with a competitive spirit.

And when you get bumped to the role of the backup’s backup, you even lose your prime seat.

With Leland Irving slated to start Friday for the Calgary Flames against the host Ducks in Anaheim, Henrik Karlsson will have to watch from the pressbox.

“I sat with Henrik and explained it to him here a couple of days ago and told him exactly what we’re doing,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter, who decided with GM Jay Feaster it would be best to shuttle Irving between the AHL and NHL to give Kiprusoff a break. “At this point in time and where we’re at in standings, if we’re gonna be going with our backup goaltender, I’ve got to go with the guy that’s won us some games and gotten us some points. Take it the way you want — the bottom line is we’ve got to win games.

“Karl, he was disappointed, but I thought he handled it very professionally, too. He understood.”

For Irving, it’s another opportunity to show he belongs in the big league.

Earning points in four of his five appearances this season is a nice start, but more wins would look better on his 1-1-3 record.

“It’s an adjustment, but it’s exciting,” Irving said. “I’m getting the best of both worlds. I get to play down there, and it looks like I might get to play up here. I’m just trying to make the best of it right now.

“It’s an exciting time for me. More importantly, we need the two points. We’re in a fight right now. I’m just gonna go out there and do the best I can to give these guys a chance to win.”

AGAINST THE GLASS

It took Flames centre Olli Jokinen about 83 seconds to score his 20th goal of the season after linemate Curtis Glencross scored his Thursday night in Phoenix. But Glencross’ was shorthanded, so give him the edge in that competition … Plenty of Flames fans at the Jobing.com Arena. Tickets are cheap, and so are the flights. Not to mention the easy seating upgrade considering nobody else bothers to show up — that is, if you don’t kicked out of the seats to which they’ve transitioned by arena ushers. Calgarians must be rooting the Coyotes stay put in Glendale, Ariz … Welcoming David Moss back to the lineup was just one more step in getting the Flames healthy for maybe the first time this season. The big winger had been out since Nov. 7 after having surgery on his ankle. “Having him back is nice. He’s a big body. His awareness on the ice is really good. He’s a responsible player,” Sutter said. “He’s someone that’s gonna work. It’s just having that guy that can play their position for you … he can kill penalties, and he can play the powerplay. He’s got a little bit of that complete package to him.” … Ray Whitney doesn’t seem like a man soon turning 40. And Kiprusoff must hate facing him these days. The Flames goalie was beat by the slick Coyotes winger on a breakaway in Calgary last week but got the best of the wily Whitney in a showdown in the second period Thursday night. But later in the frame, Kipper took a Whitney one-timer to the face. Ouch.

PARTING SHOTS

The Coyotes motto this year is ‘Hockey the hard way.’ Have to agree, it can be pretty hard to watch … Coyotes goalie Mike Smith took an 11-game winning streak into the contest. Seriously, how is that possible? … Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi wasn’t at the game, but his jersey was. His communications advisor, Daorcey Le Bray, wore it. The mystery of the Nenshi jersey was solved when the mayor replied to this tweet from yours truly: “Weirdest #Flames jersey in Glendale today had Nenshi written across the back and a No. 11 — and it wasn’t actually Nenshi #OddJerseys.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane


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