SUN Hockey Pool

Flames Snapshots: Kiprusoff sits in St. Lou

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:32 AM ET

ST. LOUIS - Since joining the Calgary Flames early in the 2003-04 NHL season, Miikka Kiprusoff has started 11 games in St. Louis.

Kiprusoff’s record in that span consists of 10 wins and one shootout defeat.

He’s also won the last nine times he’s been between the pipes at the home of the Blues.

In all that time, two other goalies have played at what’s now known as the Scottrade Center. Roman Turek collected a shutout in a 3-0 win March 14, 2004, while Curtis McElhinney lost in his two chances: 3-0 on Nov. 5, 2007 and 4-3 Dec. 15, 2009.

In short, Kiprusoff has simply owned St. Louis.

Yet going against that overwhelming trend, Flames head coach Brent Sutter decided to start Henrik Karlsson in goal during Monday’s matinee affair.

“We wanted to get Karl going right off the bat here,” Sutter explained after his team’s 5-2 loss to the Blues. “Our goal going into this was Kipper was going to play the first game and Karl was going to play the second game, so that’s what we did.

“Obviously, Kipper will play in Montreal, and we’ll determine at that point who’s going to play in Toronto.

“We are going to cut back Kipper’s games some this year, and Karl needs to play.”

It can’t be doubted Karlsson needs to play more and Kiprusoff needs to play less.

But, at risk of playing Tuesday morning quarterback here, it’s curious to sit your No. 1 goalie in just the second game of the season against a team he’s historically had incredible success.

IN THE CORNERS

The loss can’t be pinned on Karlsson, even if a couple of goals were perfect examples of his two bugaboos: Rebounds (Alex Steen’s to make it 1-1 late in the first period) and high shots (Chris Stewart’s top-shelf backhand when Karlsson was down very early). However, as much as the Flames need to reduce Kiprusoff’s workload, they need Karlsson to win more games. The Flames insist they have faith in the towering netminder — he has a NHL career record of four wins, six losses and six shoutout/overtime defeats … Once again, the Flames came out of the gates strong, built an early lead and simply fell apart. At what point is this a trend to worry about? As Alex Tanguay said, it’s like they become “a different team out there” later in the game … Bad enough the Flames only fired 17 shots on goal, but that is made worse by the fact Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak was fighting the rubber seemingly every time it came his way. Halak, who allowed three goals on just 15 shots in the opener and was under fire for it, juggled the first two shots which came his way and was beat by the third. Later, he even had trouble controlling an Olli Jokinen backhand from the top of the circle. Isn’t it obvious to just start firing from everywhere and go for rebounds?

OFF THE GLASS

With his second-period goal, Flames captain Jarome Iginla moved in to a tie with Brian Bellows for 45th on the NHL all-time goals list with 485. Iginla is also alone in 75th spot on the all-time points list with 1,007 … Speaking of dominance against the Blues, Iginla has 27 goals and 68 points in 57 career games against the Blues … On hand in the press box during the game was Duane Sutter, the former Flames player personnel director who’s now a pro scout for the Edmonton Oilers. The Flames play host to their provincial rivals next week ... Flames LW Pierre-Luc Leblond took the warmup after serving the final game of his suspension handed down in the pre-season but didn’t get into the lineup … D Derek Smith dressed instead of D Anton Babchuk, which was the only change to the Flames lineup … The third and fourth lines were mixed up. The trios of Tanguay/David Moss/Jarome Iginla and Lee Stempniak/Jokinen/Curtis Glencross remained intact for the tilt, but Matt Stajan skated with Niklas Hagman and Tom Kostopoulos, while Roman Horak played centre between TIm Jackman and Rene Bourque.

SWEET TWEET

If this is any indication of the rest of the #Flames season, it’s gonna be a loooooong 7 months. — @etchysketch

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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