Veteran MacDonald poised in goalie race

Monday, 16.09.2013 / 4:59 PM
Aaron Vickers  - CalgaryFlames.com (@aavickers)

CALGARY, AB -- He's the only goaltender you can classify as veteran in the race to capture the Calgary Flames crease.

And Joey MacDonald is every bit playing the part.

The 33-year-old veteran of 122 career National Hockey League games was saying all the right things in his battle for net time against the likes of Reto Berra, Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio.

"We all sit in the same room, we all sit beside each other and we all kind of chat it out," said MacDonald, the organization's only returning netminder. "It's great to have three or four goalies battling for the same spot. But you can only control how you play and they can control theirs. It's healthy. When you've got goalies battling for positions, it's always good."

If MacDonald is sizing up the competition in the room designated specifically for camp goalies, he's not telling. He's not concerned about Berra's save percentage, Ramo's goals against average or Ortio's minutes.

"You know what, those things I don't worry about," he said. "Let them worry about themselves. I can only control myself and that's kind of the way my motto's been since I started 13 years ago and I'm not going to change now."

The only thing that's about to change is his workload.

With Ortio, Ramo and Berra on the Saskatchewan leg of a split-squad trip, MacDonald had a crease all his own during Monday's two-hour practice.

"It's nice," he said. "As camp goes on, you kind of want to get more and more shots and more and more work. To stay here and play tomorrow at home again it's good. You know what, it's nice playing on the road too in barns you haven't played in before but on the other hand, (I) get a chance to stick around with a lot of the older guys and be ready for [Tuesday]."

Tuesday MacDonald will mind the crease at Scotiabank Saddledome and is expected to play a full 60 minutes when the Flames host a split-squad of the New York Islanders.

That in itself will offer the career back-up an opportunity to build on his 31 minute performance from Saturday's 3-2 loss against the Edmonton Oilers. MacDonald stopped 10 of 11 shots during his tour.

"It's kind of nice to ease into a game like I did the other night, play half the game and then get into it," he said. "It's that time of year again. I thought (when) the second period came along, I didn't even want to come out the other night. I was starting to feel good.

"You scrimmage and scrimmage and you play summer hockey, and now it's time to get into it and I felt good. Last game I felt good as the game went on."

As he gets more crease time, MacDonald is feeling more like the goaltender who earned his way into 21 games for the Flames, posting a 2.87 goals against average and .902 save percentage.

He's getting more comfortable with each minute between the pipes, making each appearance an increasing important outing.

"I think it's coming more and more the more ice time I get," MacDonald said. "The more practice and not sharing a net and having your own net, everything comes together. I think the more ice time and getting into a game [Tuesday], it's just going to come even better."

Veteran poise from the only goalie in camp that can be classified as such.

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