Steppin' up for Kipper

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Philippe Sauve knows the detractors are getting louder.

He knows all those critics who wondered aloud whether Miikka Kiprusoff was just a flash in the pan have been using the team's slow start for ammunition.

And as a fellow member of the goalie fraternity, the Flames backup netminder is willing to step up and defend Kiprusoff.

"He has made some huge saves," Sauve said.

"Just look at the goals Kipper's been giving up. They're very good scoring chances. With our system, that's not the way we're supposed to play the game.

"I think everything will get back to normal.

"We'll tighten it up, that's what we've been working on. It's not just the d-men, it's everybody. Once we all work on that, the routine saves will come back."

Calgary's tough start can't all be pinned on Kiprusoff but he certainly hasn't been at his best, having surrendered 18 goals to give him a 4.93 goals-against average and .855 save percentage. Kiprusoff refuses to dwell on the past.

"It's not been a great start but you can't change anything that happened in the last game. We just have to look to (today's) game and try to get a win and get better, too," Kiprusoff said.

"There's some little things we've been working on. I have to be better and we've been working on things I have to be better on."

To the media, Kiprusoff has kept a stiff upper lip. Calm and cool in good times, the netminder hasn't shown anything different during this rough ride.

Sauve said he hasn't seen otherwise, either.

"He doesn't show it," Sauve said. "That's one thing I admire, he's always with the same tone, never getting too high or too low.

"That's a good thing for a goalie because you can't beat yourself up. We're all human and it's normal you want to play good and want to win. I'm sure he's feeling that way, as well."


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