That’s how Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano explained Thursday’s knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota Wild centre Mikko Koivu, stressing there was no intent to injure and pointing out that he immediately tried to apologize on the ice.
For Flames fans, that is the worst part about Giordano’s two-game suspension.
You never want go without your workhorse defenceman, power-play quarterback and emotional heartbeat against any opponent, but it’s an added bummer that No. 5 will miss Sunday’s Battle of Alberta rematch, what promises to be a snarly, spirited meeting with the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena.
“Obviously bad timing by me on the hit. Just a bad play — I didn’t get him, I missed him,” Giordano said of Thursday’s hit on Koivu, explaining that he was trying to squeeze the Wild captain along the boards as he cruised by. “I’m not going after anyone trying to hurt them. I’m just trying to play the one-on-one, and I just felt like I didn’t get there in time and timed the whole play wrong.
“I was surprised that our legs hit like they did,” he added. “I thought originally that I just sort of clipped him and tripped him with my feet. But yeah, you see the different angles and our legs do hit. I was just sliding over. You do that maybe 50 times a game, where you slide over on a guy and you try to close ice. I was trying to close him on the wall, and the result was a bad one and I just hope that he gets back and is playing sooner rather than later.
“You hate to see a guy go down like that.”
Koivu is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury.
Giordano has been superb so far this season, generating some chatter as an early contender for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best blue-liner.
Through 784 loggings in the Flaming C, the 35-year-old had never been suspended, although he was fined for a slew-foot in 2013. (Giordano is still sometimes booed in Anaheim, where fans were fuming about his hit on Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler near the end of the 2016-17 campaign, but the league reviewed that run-in and decided no supplemental discipline was warranted.)
“I’ve played a long time and I try to play the game hard and the right way,” Giordano said Saturday prior to serving the first half of his two-game ban against the Nashville Predators. “I think throughout everyone’s career, though, you’re going to have moments and plays you wish you had back. And I’m no different. I’ve had some plays throughout my career that you’re not trying to do things in a malicious way, but maybe they turn out not so great. I feel like I’ve played hard my whole career, been a pretty clean player my whole career. This instance, I missed my timing and it ended the result was bad.”
Like Giordano, Flames forward call-up Ryan Lomberg is also off for the weekend.
The 23-year-old was suspended for a pair after his one-man dance with Minnesota’s Matt Dumba in the final minute of Thursday’s feisty third period.
Just moments earlier, Dumba had levelled Mikael Backlund in open ice. Lomberg hopped the boards on a line change, showed little interest in the puck and beelined toward Dumba to avenge what the Flames feel was a high hit.
He received the automatic one-game suspension that comes with an instigator penalty in the late stages of regulation, and the NHL’s law-makers tacked on another because it was clear he hit the ice with just one thing in mind.
Backlund is now in concussion protocol.
“The rules are pretty black and white and I broke it, so just take the suspension and move on,” Lomberg said Saturday. “I was standing up for a teammate. I thought (Backlund) was in a vulnerable spot and he kind of got taken advantage of. It’s part of my role to defend my teammates.
“I thought he got taken advantage of a little bit and obviously he was labouring pretty good coming off the ice, so I just thought it was on me to answer the ball.”
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