SUN Hockey Pool

Goodbye, and good riddance!

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

CALGARY -- Miikka Kiprusoff won't miss staring at Ryan Smyth's backside.

The Calgary Flames goaltender is ecstatic he won't have to deal with the incredible skills Smyth puts on display when he parks on the edge of - and sometimes in - the crease.

For example, Kiprusoff won't miss those little tugs at his feet in an attempt to knock him ever so slightly off balance or taps on the stick to break his concentration.

"Yeah, I was happy to see him go to the east," said the Flames netminder.

When Kiprusoff and the Flames meet the Oilers tonight in Edmonton, it'll be a new era.

The Flames add up to 15 goals and 12 assists in 55 Battle of Alberta clashes.

From Kiprusoff's perspective, though, gone is a nemesis.

For all his skills, Smyth's biggest impact comes at the edge of the blue paint. He can drive a goalie batty with his presence on top of scoring goals with deflections or rebounds.

"I think every team has a guy like that but he's one of the best doing it," Kiprusoff said. "I don't think I have to worry about him again this year, and that's good for me."

It's a change even for Jarome Iginla.

Remember, Smyth was already proving himself a key component of the Oilers when Iginla broke into the league a raw rookie in the 1996-97 season.

"They still have a lot of guys. Up front, they have a lot of scoring power and nifty players, like (Ales) Hemsky and (Shawn) Horcoff, and they've got guys who've been there a long time like Jason Smith," Iginla said. "It's an adjustment on their point of view but from ours we play the same way."

"We've been through that. Teams lose big players all the time. Theo (Fleury) moved from here at the deadline and I don't think they were talking about it."


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