Auld's time may be now

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:23 PM ET

 So much for Alex Auld being Vancouver's goaltender of the future.

 When Canucks head coach Marc Crawford yesterday named Auld his starter for Game 6 of Vancouver's playoff series with Calgary tonight, it became obvious the 23-year-old's time is now.

  It's a bizarre turn of events for Auld, who hasn't even dominated at the AHL level. Through three years with the Manitoba Moose, the Thunder Bay product barely has a .500 record.

 For some reason, though, he's always played well when called up, and here he is backstopping the Canucks in their most important games of the season.

 With regular starter Dan Cloutier out with another injury, you'd think Crawford would have gone with the playoff-tested Johan Hedberg the rest of the way.

 After all, they picked up Hedberg last summer for exactly this scenario, didn't they?

 But Crawford obviously likes Hedberg about as much as he likes jock itch, so Auld is the man for now. And if the Canucks make the second round, there's no reason to think he won't stay.

 Factor in Cloutier's shaky playoff history, and we may well be witnessing the passing of the torch in the Canucks crease.

 WHO ARE THEY KIDDING?

 I'm having an "upper-body problem," specifically trying to get my brain wrapped around the ridiculous secrecy around NHL playoff injuries.

 This whole body region thing is getting a little out of hand, isn't it?

 Toronto's Mats Sundin crashes feet-first into the boards, but the Leafs will only say he has a "lower-body" injury.

 Dan Cloutier obviously twists his knee or ankle, but the Canucks won't admit it until it becomes clear he's done for the first round.

 I know, everybody's worried they'll be targeted if they reveal where it hurts. But when it's that obvious, why not just come clean?

 Montreal coach Claude Julien seemed to realize the absurdity of it, talking about the neck injury suffered by Jason Ward.

 "I think if you see him with a neck brace on, it's kind of hard for me to call it an upper body injury," cracked Julien to reporters.

 ANYBODY GOT A FIELD?

 What in the world are Ottawa's big-thinkers doing, leaving to the last minute a rather critical detail like stadium availability for this year's Grey Cup?

 Every off-season, the field at Frank Clair Stadium is taken over by a private company, which puts a dome over it and rents it out to soccer teams and the like.

 The problem is, that contract kicks in six days before the Nov. 21 Grey Cup.

 Incredibly, the two sides still haven't resolved the dispute, and are actually in court over it.

 You think maybe this should have been taken care of, say, back when Ottawa first bid for the game?

 AND FINALLY... I see Toronto's 6-foot-6 forward Nik Antropov is puzzled about some of the penalties he's taking. "I'm a tall guy," Antropov said. "If guys hook me, it's in the waist, but if I hook them the stick goes from the elbow to the shoulder to the face. I don't know what to do." With logic like that, who needs reason?... Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire must be a genius. Gardenhire rested third baseman Corey Koskie last Monday, giving Koskie and his sore back two days off in a row. The pride of Anola responded with home runs Wednesday and Thursday in Cleveland, giving him three in his last four games ... You probably heard that Tiger Woods, fresh off another poor finish in the Masters, spent the week training with the U.S. military, including two attempts at skydiving with an Army parachute team. Word is he landed in the rough, though, so his slump is officially still on.


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