SUN Hockey Pool

Kiprusoff not content with failure

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff during a stoppage in play at the Pengrowth Saddledome in...

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff during a stoppage in play at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta on March 15, 2010. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:40 PM ET

Sure, Miikka Kiprusoff is going through the same parental emotions everyone else experiences now that his son, Aaro, has started kindergarten.

But, he doesn’t mind a little more quiet around the house.

“It’s awesome. I get to lay on the couch. And there’s not as much playing hockey in the basement. Some days, I do that enough at the rink,” Kiprusoff said with a grin after skating with a bunch of teammates Friday morning.

“He’s so pumped up,” Kiprusoff added, turning serious. “It’s good playing with other kids and learning. It’s fun to see how they grow up.

“He’s happy so I’m happy.”

Want to see that smile disappear in a hurry, though?

Just bring up last season.

Failing to make the Stanley Cup playoffs still bothers Kiprusoff.

As quiet and low key as he is off the ice, he’s as competitive as you will find on it.

Don’t let the facade fool you. He may look cool-as-a-cucumber when he lifts his mask to take a drink of water after a goal and doesn’t smash sticks, but Kiprusoff hates losing, which the Flames did far too often last season.

The fact the Flames missed the playoffs may be the past, but it’s obvious that memory still burns the No. 1 netminder.

“I look at it as a team, and I didn’t get enough wins,” he said. “We didn’t make playoffs. I know my numbers were better (than the previous few seasons), but we played better defence than the few years before last season.”

Even mentioning how well he played doesn’t extinguish the disappointment.

Despite seeing action in all but nine games for a non-playoff team last season, Kiprusoff posted a 2.31 goals-against average and .920 save percentage to go with a 35-28-14 record.

All too often, the team’s dismal offence sunk the team in games where Kiprusoff stood tall. Still, he feels he, too, can play better this time around.

“I think everybody, including me, can be better. We have to be better, because we all still remember how tough it was at the end of last year not to get the chance to move on (to the playoffs),” he said.

A fired up and productive Kiprusoff will play a big part in the Flames reaching the post-season.

As will bounce-back seasons from several players, such as Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen, whose return to the club via free agency caught plenty of people off guard, but not Kiprusoff.

“I wasn’t that surprised,” he said. “Even after he got traded, I talked with him and knew he liked it here. I think they liked him here, too.

“It’s good to have him back. He’s hungry, all of us should be. Nobody on our team who played in Calgary last season should be feeling so good. It was a big disappointment last year and we have to be hungry and ready when the season starts.

“All those points, you need them early in the season, because the last few games it’s always so close.

“And I think the guys are ready.”

As has become almost an annual event, the Flames are auditioning a new face as Kiprusoff’s back-up. Since he arrived early in the 2003-04 season, the club’s star netminder has had eight players serve as his caddy (Roman Turek, Jamie McLennan, Philippe Sauve, Brian Boucher, Matt Keetley, Curtis McElhinney, Curtis Joseph and Vesa Toskala).

This season, it appears Henrik Karlsson will get the job. Karlsson has followed a similar path as Kiprusoff to Calgary — standout seasons in Europe and a stint with the San Jose Sharks — but that’s about all Kiprsuoff knows of the netminder from Sweden.

“I don’t follow the Swedish league too much. I’ve seen him a few times and he looks good,” he said. “I know the team is looking to get two goalies, and both goalies to win. That would be good.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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