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Iginla defends Sutter’s contentious shootout choices

Mar 23, 2012, 6:29 PM EDT

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The Calgary Flames went into last night’s shootout against Minnesota clinging to their playoff lives.

Then things got interesting.

Head coach Brent Sutter chose his shooters — Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak, Blair Jones and Blake Comeau — and left Calgary’s four leading scorers (Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen) on the pine.

Then Calgary lost the shootout.

That drew the ire of Flames fans, many of whom called in to sports radio shows Friday to voice their displeasure.

One person that didn’t have a problem with Sutter’s shootout choices? One of the snubs — Iginla.

“Whatever Brent sees at the time or wants to go with,” Calgary’s captain told the Globe and Mail. “We’ve had a lot of opportunity. I’ve had some good opportunities and haven’t been able to be above .500 in those. Whoever gets called, you’re doing your best to score there.

“We don’t look at any guys who missed there and think, ‘You let us down.’ We all let each other down.”

What remains unclear is why Sutter opted for those shooters. Stajan, Comeau and Stempniak were a combined 0-for-5 heading into last night — assistant coach Craig Hartsburg said it was a “roll the dice” strategy, but even that fails to explain why Jokinen (who leads the Flames with three shootout goals) wasn’t involved.

At least he’s scored one this year.

All told, Calgary would probably be fine with eliminating the shootout altogether. The Flames are 3-9 in the skills competition and their .250 winning percentage is 29th in the NHL — only Carolina, which has yet to win a shootout (0-6), has fared worse. If the Flames fall short of the playoffs, they’ll likely rue all those blown extra points.

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