SUN Hockey Pool

Iron Man up to challenge

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

Game after game, Miikka Kiprusoff takes his place between the pipes.

Game after game, the Calgary Flames netminder is counted on to make the difference.

It means a steady stream of stress and strain.

And it has the potential for fatigue.

However, Kiprusoff doesn't consider what he's been through this season to be tiring.

Nor is he daunted by facing the nine games remaining on the docket before the season ends April 18.

It's fun.

"I've already played 65 games and I don't feel tired," said Kiprusoff, who played No. 66 last night against the Colorado Avalanche and ran his minutes-played total to nearly 3,900. "So 10 more (games) is not going to make any difference.

"I feel pretty good. It's my job to play and I enjoy it."

Jarome Iginla may be Calgary's $7-million man but Kiprusoff is the one Flame who'll have the biggest impact on how long the Red Mile party lasts this summer.

Barring an injury that most would consider a disaster to the Flames, he'll head into the post-season dance -- provided they make it -- having shattered the club record for games played in a season.

That distinction is currently held by Roman Turek, who played in 69 games (totalling 4,081 minutes) during the 2001-02 season.

It's safe to say Kiprusoff will get the nod in another six or seven outings, especially with head coach Darryl Sutter's past history of riding his No. 1 netminder.

Should the Flames be in a tough enough fight for points, Kiprusoff may just run the table.

He just shrugs it off.

"The coach makes the call there. I have to make sure I'm ready to play. If he wants me to play all the games, I have to be ready to play all the games. That's my job," he said. "I can't worry too much if I'm going to play whatever game. I just have to play and give our team a chance to win."

Besides, Kiprusoff's play this season hasn't tailed off from his remarkable breakout campaign two years ago.

His goals-against average (2.18 heading into last night's game) may be higher than the record-setting 1.69 he posted in 38 games in 2003-04 but it's worth noting goal-scoring around the league is up about one goal per game.

If only his teammates could produce more offence to reduce some of his stress.

Kiprusoff insists he doesn't worry about how many goals his side tallies.

"For me, it really doesn't matter if we win 1-0 or 7-6. We just have to find a way to win," he said. "It doesn't matter if we score only one or seven.

"It's about winning."


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