Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lockout Lightens the Load for Calgary Flames Workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lockout Lightens the Load for Calgary Flames Workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff

Article excerpt

Flames rely heavily on Kiprusoff again


CALGARY - The Calgary Flames have started the last few seasons vowing to give goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff more games off to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

But every time the team rode him hard right until the end to try and make the post-season, falling short in the last three campaigns.

The narrative for Kiprusoff is obviously different to open this lockout-shortened season. For the first time in seven years, the former Vezina Trophy winner won't play more than 70 games during the regular season because there's only 48.

New Flames head coach Bob Hartley indicated the 36-year-old Finn will start almost all of them, including Sunday's home-opener versus the San Jose Sharks.

"We have a plan and we will do everything in the best interest of Kipper and the Calgary Flames, but the guy is a thoroughbred and you know what thoroughbreds like to do," the coach said Friday. "They like to run. They don't like to sit in the stable."

The prevailing thought is goaltending becomes magnified in a shorter season, but Kiprusoff suggests that's overstated.

"I like to think every season it's important," he said. "It's huge how your goalie plays. It's the same thing this year. I don't think any team in this league is going to make playoffs with bad goaltending."

Hartley gave Kiprusoff the day off from practice Thursday. While the stated purpose was to rest the star goaltender, it was also so Hartley could make a decision between the two men vying for the backup job.

The verdict went to Leland Irving of Barrhead, Alta., over Sweden's Henrik Karlsson when the Flames announced their 23-man roster Friday.

Also, the Flames reached deep into their past and signed forward Steve Begin to a one-year, two-way contract worth $525,000. The 34-year-old was a second-round draft pick by Calgary in 1996. Begin played 123 games for the Flames from 1997 to 2003.

Centre Paul Byron and defenceman Brett Carson were assigned to the Abbotsford Heat. Karlsson, Kiprusoff's backup last season, was designated for reassignment.

Forward Roman Cervenka (blood-thinning medication) and defenceman Anton Babchuk (shoulder) start the season on the injured list. …

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