'Hed' games

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:46 PM ET


 VANCOUVER -- Despite a shaky outing in Game 4, Johan Hedberg fully expects to get the start again tonight.

 If he doesn't, he warned yesterday things could get ugly.

 "I'll snap my sticks and jump around," deadpanned Hedberg when asked how he'd react if Canucks coach Marc Crawford opted to start third-stringer Alex Auld instead.

 "Seriously, I haven't really thought about it. I just prepare to play until somebody tells me differently."

 Given Crawford's obvious disappointment in the Swede's play this season, there is a chance he may just prompt a Hedberg Hissyfit by making the switch. Despite coming off the bench and mopping up admirably for the injured Dan Cloutier in Game 3, Hedberg's play slipped Tuesday when he allowed three goals in the second period of a 4-0 loss at the 'Dome.

 Despite the fact his team was outclassed in every facet of the game, Crawford pointed out Hedberg needed to come up bigger.

 Yesterday, Crawford left the door open for a possible goalie change by refusing to endorse Hedberg in any way for tonight's tie-breaking fifth game.

 "We're not going to make any decisions right now," said Crawford, passing up an obvious chance to show some rare form of support for Hedberg.

 "We'll make the (decisions today). I don't want you to misconstrue that, we've got confidence in everyone here."

 Riiiiiight, Marc. You mean kinda like how Darryl Sutter had confidence in Roman Turek?

 Originally brought in to challenge Cloutier for the No. 1 gig this season, Hedberg fell out of favour with Crawford early, prompting public criticism in November when the coach described the goalie's play in a 4-3 loss to Philly as "terrible."

 It sent ripples through the dressing room, where Crawford's comment infuriated Hedberg and his teammates.

 Crawford apologized but no one in that room forgot what he said, especially Hedberg.

 With that in mind, the former Penguins hero can't be faulted for getting a tad testy yesterday when the line of questioning revolved around a goalie controversy born out of a single sub-par start.

 "I don't care and I don't know what you guys write," said Hedberg, already fed up with the latest goalie debate being played out by local fans and media.

 "I don't listen to you guys, I don't read you guys or pay attention to you guys. What concerns me is how I play and how we play as a team."

 Both should concern him greatly given the fact he let in two goals within 27 seconds and his teammates were badly out-skated, out-hit and out-worked by a banged-up Flames squad.

 Despite Crawford's childish refusal to commit to a starter, few believe his general disdain for Hedberg will prompt him to give Auld the first playoff start of his NHL career.

 That said, you can bet Hedberg will give way to the 23-year-old, who has one period of playoff experience, if things go awry early.

 "You've got a short leash at the best of times -- you want your team to respond," said Crawford, who confirmed Cloutier's sprained ankle will keep him out of this series at the very least.

 "Obviously, all teams don't want to have to score six or seven goals because you know everyone out there will be so determined to make it so hard to score."

 Asked for his thoughts on the latest goaltending controversy, Brendan Morrison couldn't help but chuckle.

 "What else is new in Vancouver, eh?" said the Canucks' best player in the series.

 "We have the ultimate confidence and faith that Johan can get the job done for us. He had a couple bad breaks but he'll bounce back."

 That is, if Crawford will give him that chance.


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