March 12, 2012
Mark Giordano: In The Red
With a 4-3 win over Minnesota on Sunday, the Calgary Flames pulled into 8th place in the Western Conference.
For much of the season it looked like the playoffs were nothing but a pipe dream, but captain Jarome Iginla has led the Flames back to the conversation. Iginla has five goals and four assists over five games in the month of March. In fact, with his power play goal in the first period, the 15-year veteran has more goals (34) and more points (62) against Minnesota than any other player in NHL history.
It is not just Iginla leading the charge. Miikka Kiprusoff has been stellar all year. Olli Jokinen, surprise surprise, has been good this year. Alex Tanguay has 13 points in his last 8 games. And Curtis Glencross has caught fire, scoring goals in 6 consecutive games. If he can score in each of the next two games he will tie the club record.
One player who is not getting enough credit is Mark Giordano. Other than the goaltender Kiprusoff, Giordano was probably the Flames' best player early in the season. Then he missed 21 games with a hamstring injury, and the Flames flickered lowly. But since coming back he has been the Flames' "Mr. Everything" reigniting the power play, at least in stretches, and even blocking slap shots with his teeth.
Giordano has nicely evolved in his five seasons in the NHL. Had it not been for his lengthy injury this season likely would have been a coming out party for him, at least for those outside of Western Canada.
At 6'0" and 205lbs he is a mid-sized defenseman, but he sure does not play like it. He is an aggressive hitter who surprises by stepping up on advancing players. The key is the confidence in his positioning. He has matured into a very solid one one defender, exhibiting tight gap control and an active stick. He is also an effective shot blocker.
The confidence in the defensive zone has allowed his offensive game to blossom, too. He is a strong puck handler and resourceful puck mover, be it with an intelligent breakout pass or a burst of acceleration to rush the puck out of the zone. He is a strong skater, both in terms of speed and pivoting. He has benefited from increased power play time, where he has a strong one timer and makes exciting (if not at times risky) pinches.
Mark Giordano remains a largely unknown entity.