Deja viewpoint

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

 This isn't the first time Roman Turek has warmed a front-row seat watching another goalie scorching the blue paint with his playoff performance.

 In 1999 as a Dallas Star, the lanky Czech witnessed Ed Belfour rack up a sensational 1.67 GAA while posting three shutouts, helping Turek win his only Stanley Cup ring.

  But as Belfour's backup in Dallas, Turek's gaze was locked on an established veteran operating between the pipes in a fashion the hockey world had come to expect through eight previous NHL seasons.

 Not so with Flames teammate Miikka Kiprusoff, whose trade to Calgary in November was greeted by passing curiosity at the time.

 Yet the quiet Finn has dominated headlines this past month, backstopping the Flames to an unlikely playoff run featuring back-to-back upsets over Vancouver and Detroit.

 Through 13 games and two rounds this spring, Kiprusoff has established a 1.92 GAA while slamming the door completely on three occasions.

 "Belfour had been in the NHL a long time, so when he played well everybody expected something like that from him because he was a No. 1 goalie in the league," remembers Turek, who has watched Kiprusoff backstop the Flames to the Western Conference final in San Jose having gone more than two full games without allowing a goal.

 "They didn't talk about Belfour playing well, they would only talk about him if he didn't play well. He played well and nobody said 'Belfour is unbelievable.'

 "Miikka is different. He came from playing as the third goalie in San Jose and he's stepped in here and played an unbelievable season, so that's two different stories."

 From a vantage point at the end of the bench and as a dressing-room neighbour, Turek is positioned perfectly to analyze his goaltending partner, who essentially stole the Flames starting job the same way he snatches pucks aimed for the top corner.

 While Turek was nursing a wonky knee, Kiprusoff was sensational, posting a 1.16 GAA in December. Although a knee injury also forced Kiprusoff from the cage in January, the 27-year-old returned to form down the stretch and into the playoffs.

 "A goalie needs good bounces and Miikka has (been getting) good bounces," explained Turek, 33, who saw Kiprusoff make saves against Detroit in Game 6 during which the puck sometimes defied gravity and logic, hopping harmlessly away from the Flames net.

 "He makes a save and doesn't always know where the puck goes and it just goes into the corner. Sometimes, if you don't have the lucky bounces, you can make the save and the rebound is on the other guy's stick and into the net -- not much you can do.

 "I think he plays with confidence, doesn't overplay the shot, is always in good position and when you play with confidence, you get the good bounces and it's very important."

 Kiprusoff's hot hand has now kept Turek out of the lineup for a month. Although Turek stops shots daily in practice and tries to keep fit if needed, maintaining his mental focus is challenging.

 "It's not always easy," shrugged Turek, who collected some $4.25 million US this season despite playing just 18 games.

 "The only thing you can do is work hard in practice and off-ice. If you don't play games, you still know you have to be ready if something happens to jump on the ice and be ready to play.

 "What I try to do is work hard in practice and off-ice, too. I'm always with the team, so all the atmosphere, I'm enjoying. And I'm with the guys so it's a nice feeling. But, of course, we haven't won anything yet. We have to win eight more games and that's a long way."

 Turek hasn't started a game since early last month and missed 40 contests this season due to injuries. After regaining his health, Turek took to the net just three times in both February and March as Kiprusoff assumed the role as No. 1 man. Turek was even placed on waivers just prior to the trade deadline, although his salary had other NHL clubs shying away from making a deal.

 "I played my last game something like April 5th, so it's been a month now, which is a long time. Especially since the last four or five years I played 65-70 games," noted Turek, who says he's maintained a strong partnership with Kiprusoff.

 "This year has been difficult for me. Mentally, I have to be prepared for anything."


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