SUN Hockey Pool

Cheeky play from Smyth

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Ryan Smyth's backside has caused goaltenders across the league countless hours of grief.

None more than Miikka Kiprusoff this year.

Even before last night's contest between Kiprusoff's Calgary Flames and Smyth's Edmonton Oilers, the Flames netminder has had a close-up view of the constant crease crowder's pants six times since the NHL season began.

But Kiprusoff is somehow able to take the Edmonton Oilers veteran's mostly legal abuse without exploding.

"I try not to. It's not my game," said Kiprusoff, known for his cool demeanour between the pipes regardless of the situation.

"I try to frustrate him like he tries to frustrate me. It's a game and if I do my job, he gets frustrated, too."

But Smyth isn't easy to rattle, either. What gets under his skin?

"A Marty Turco slash right here," said Smyth, pointing to the spot near his top lip where the Dallas Stars netminder hacked him nearly two years ago. "That one I think probably ...

"Every once in a while you get the slashes. They can sneak one in and get away with it."

Turco didn't get away with it. He was suspended four games for the 2004 incident.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender J-S Giguere is a more recent Smyth victim.

Giguere lost his cool in January, racking up 16 minutes in penalties -- two roughing infractions, a tripping call and a 10-minute misconduct -- after taking exception to Smyth's screening tactics.

"He got me there," said Giguere, able to laugh at himself a few weeks after the incident while visiting the 'Dome just before the Olympic break. "He really got under my skin and he really worked me up. At that point, there was nothing controlling me anymore.

"He does a great job. He does it so everything he does is legal. He's just right in front of the net and he doesn't really bump into you but he's just always there. And then he tips the puck like I've never seen anybody tip the puck. He seems like he's got magic eyes."

Kiprusoff can sympathize but looks at Smyth's presence as motivation.

"It's a challenge for me," said Kiprusoff. "I think he's one of the best guys in front of the net. It's a challenge to see the puck behind him and not keep rebounds for him there because he's pretty good."

And that, ultimately, is the best way to frustrate the culprit himself.

"I get four or five whacks (at the puck) usually around the net," Smyth said. "Them making a big save on me, that hurts."


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