Kiprusoff rollin' with it
Goalie looks at the bright side of rest after getting Game 2 off
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff watches as a puck passes the goal line during a game against the Penguins at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 8, 2011. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - Yes, Game 2 is officially the earliest Miikka Kiprusoff has been on the bench serving as backup since he became a Calgary Flame.
It’s not the earliest by as big of a margin as you’d think.
Oh sure, the belief about Kiprusoff is he starts every game until we all begin to wear poppies in honour of lives lost in past wars, which has often been the case.
Back in 2007-08, the Flames netminder was an absolute workhorse with Mike Keenan at the helm, starting the first 23 games before Curtis McElhinney stepped into the breach.
But a couple of seasons ago, Kiprusoff took a breather after playing the first four games, and he played the first six games last season before Henrik Karlsson was given his chance.
Which is why the Flames organization is trying to say it’s no big deal Karlsson was between the pipes for Monday’s game against the St. Louis Blues. Especially since the push is to have Karlsson play around 20 games.
And it’s also why Kiprusoff is shrugging off being on the pine in that 5-2 loss.
“Well, just a day off. What can I say? I guess I’m well rested,” a calm and relaxed Kiprusoff said after Wednesday’s practice at the Montreal Canadiens practice rink. “I don’t know who’s playing (Thursday), but if I am, I have a couple of days rest.”
If you’re thinking something seems awry with Kiprusoff being unsure whether he’ll be in goal against the Canadiens, you’re not alone.
Head coach Brent Sutter said immediately after the St. Louis game that Kiprusoff would be between the pipes for this affair.
“Oh, did he?” Kiprusoff replied when informed of Sutter’s statement.
“All right. I’ll get ready then.”
The Flames need Kiprusoff ready to be his best. Not only against the Habs, who will celebrate their home opener Thursday night at the Bell Centre, but in many, many other games.
Kiprusoff — who’ll be going for his 263rd win with the Flames, a franchise record, when he next plays — says he won’t insist on the number of starts he makes.
“It’s never been my call. It’s not my call. I’m happy when I get my chance to play and try to do my best,” he shrugged.
With his only action this season being that 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, in which Kiprusoff allowed four goals and the fifth went into an empty net, the star netminder isn’t off to the best start of his award-winning career.
However, the soon-to-be 35-year-old goalie seems rather unperturbed about the minor kerfuffle caused by the decision in St. Louis.
Instead, he is trying to go happily along working on his game with new goalie coach Clint Malarchuk.
“He tries not to change too many things, more little bits,” Kiprusoff said of the quick-witted Malarchuk. “There are not many big things I’m going to change now. I have my style, have been playing the same way a long time. So, it’s more little things, like sometimes I’m playing too deep or challenging too much.
“He sees those little things, and we talk about those.”