Miikka Kiprusoff has to make a difference.
He needs to be the difference.
Incapable of shutting down the Chicago Blackhawks offence in the regular season, the Calgary Flames defence has an even bigger hole that could be exposed with Robyn Regehr out of the lineup a couple more weeks.
Even Regehr had trouble containing some of the speedy Hawks forwards as the Flames dropped all four games to the up-and-coming Original Six squad that has given new life to the Windy City this winter.
That means Kiprusoff can expect to be tested.
Responding with his best series since the one-man-show he put on against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2007 playoffs is the only hope the Flames have of getting past it for the first time since the lockout.
Pulled in his last playoff appearance -- the Game 7 bow-out against the San Jose Sharks a year ago -- Kiprusoff will not only be responsible for ensuring no bad goals get past him, the 32-year-old Finn is on the hook to make a few stops many goaltenders couldn't normally make.
Probably early, too.
The Hawks have been all over the Flames in the opening minutes of their previous matchups.
Scoring 42 seconds into their last meeting, the Blackhawks owned a 2-1 lead before the seven-minute mark.
Their clash before that saw Martin Havlat give the Hawks an advantage over the Flames 3:26 in.
Allowing the momentum-hording Hawks any sort of early gap isn't going to make a Flames victory easy in the post-season, where goals are much harder to come by.
Kiprusoff has to make goals nearly impossible to get past him. He didn't do it against the Sharks.
Posting a 3.21 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in that series, Kiprusoff was yanked twice in favour of fossil Curtis Joseph.
It was a far cry from his stellar display against the Wings the previous spring.
With no right to make it to Game 6 of that one-sided series, the Flames came inches away from forcing a seventh game before finally falling in overtime.
It was all due to Kiprusoff's heroics.
Blasted with 97 shots over two games in Detroit, Kiprusoff was the only Flame not completely overwhelmed by the attack.
His save percentage over the six-game set was .929, and his GAA at 2.81 despite the abuse.
To overcome the Hawks attack, the Flames need Kiprusoff to be that good again.
His 2.84 GAA over the past seven months is troubling, but more worrisome is the .903 save percentage -- his lowest as a Flame.
Too often this season, a weak goal at a bad time has deflated his team.
Fragile from a stretch drive that saw the injuries pile up after weeks of poor play, the Flames might not be able to handle another blow to their ego. How they play in Game 1 tonight could affect the outcome of the entire series.
It's up to Kiprusoff to be the bendy but unbreakable backbone.