Flames Watch: Three cheers for Cujo!

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There have been times the past few years when my assessment of what Curtis Joseph could contribute at his advancing age has been rather harsh. While others continued to champion him as a bona fide No. 1 goalie, I really didn’t think he was playing all that well and was clearly in decline.

That said, you have to give credit where credit is due and the 40-year-old Keswick, Ont., native gets full marks for winning his 447th career game, pulling into a tie with the legendary Terry Sawchuk in all-time victories.

Joseph’s big win came Feb. 20, a 3-2 decision over the high-flying Dallas Stars, a game in which his team was outshot 31-18.

Joseph was given the start, his second since joining the Flames a month ago, after the team arrived home from a road trip at 3:30 a.m. earlier in the day. Talk about hanging a guy out to dry! Regardless, Joseph stood up to the challenge and confirmed GM Darryl Sutter’s decision to sign the veteran as a backup to Miikka Kiprusoff.

Earlier in the season it looked as though Joseph’s big-league career might finally have ended. Although Joseph made it clear he wished to continue playing, he found no takers.

So, when Team Canada came calling, wondering if he’d be willing to play in the Spengler Cup, he jumped, thinking if he had a successful tournament, an NHL team might sign him.

That is exactly what happened. Canada won the tourney and Joseph fielded a few offers, finally settling on the Flames. While the Western Conference is extremely tight, many believe the Flames have a team good enough to survive what is sure to be a rugged conference playoffs.

If that were to happen, Joseph would have his first opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup final. Naturally, Kiprusoff would be the favorite to play all the games, if he was healthy, but you never know when a backup will be called upon.

Watching Joseph beat Dallas, it is evident he still has something left in the tank. And if the Flames find themselves in a bind with their No. 1 goalie down, this cagey veteran would be a good and safe alternative.

This column also appears in the Calgary Metro Newspaper.

Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.

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