January 12 2013 06:44PM
Location: Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre
Leland Irving got a chance to make an impression with the Flames organizationlast night with his first start in nearly a month. It didn't go well. The former first rounder let in 3 goals in 10 shots in the opening period, essentially sealing he clubs fate in the first 20 minutes. Danny Taylor replaced him in the second, but the damage was done.
Irving now has a steep mountain to climb heading into Flames training camp. After making a decent impression in his cup of coffee with the team last season, he subsequently lost his starting position to Taylor on the farm and the usurpation has held (deepened, in fact) this year. Barry Burst pushed Irving even further away from the Abbotsford crease and through the first 3+ months of play, Irving has only six games and managed a ghastly .878 SV%.
If the team was uncertain about the 24-year old's future prior to his stint on the farm, his struggles have more than likely solved those doubts. Unless he comes to camp, blows the doors off and steals every game he appears in as a back-up, Irving will be looking for a new home come the off-season.
The Heat, on the other hand, had a good start the year but have petered out recently. December brought a lack of scoring and reduced puck stopping thanks to regression and injuries and thus far there doesn't seem to be any end to the dry spell.
The loss to the Wolves (tonight's opponents as well) was the club's 12th in the last 16 games. They still lead the Western Conference in terms of goals against (77), but are also second last in terms of offense (81). The positive goal differential and effective offensive suppression are good, but at some point the team will need to start hitting the back oft he net again if they want to stay in the race.
Sum It Up
The Heat are mired hip deep in a losing spell and the players who would be most able to dig them out will soon be called up to the parent club. Troy Ward and those remaining on the roster will need to find a way to direct more pucks on net - and more importantly, behind the opposition goalies.