Sunday, February 03, 2013

On the Topic Of Keeping Miikka Kiprusoff Starting

Is it possible for Miikka Kiprusoff to start all 48 games for the Calgary Flames this season??

Simple answer is yes.

Long answer is yes, but in doing so; you're not only wearing out your workhorse and maybe not giving your team the best chance to win-- but you're also hurting the development of the young back-up Leland Irving, who won his spot on the bench in training camp.

Yet, at the same time-- Kiprusoff is the Flames guy through thick and thin. Since the lost 2004-05 season, Kiprusoff has played in 524 of the Flames 580 games, coming on in relief for only four of those 524. That shows that Kiprusoff is able to give the outcome the Flames want-- in which he hasn't had lower than 35 wins in those seven seasons-- but also shows that the team probably can't play that well in front of the back-up, for which there has been nine back-ups in the seven season span.

The problem with Kiprusoff being in there all the time this shortened season is the fact that he's just getting warmed up after not playing or practicing much during the work stoppage. His numbers are showing it, too, with a 3.42 GAA and .859 save percentage in his six games this season, very un-Kipper like for him.

Even with all the problems, this sprint of a season is something where Bob Hartley is probably going to live and die with their gamer of a goalie. Odds are, Kiprusoff will not turn down a chance to play when he's asked. That's why at some point, Hartley has to tell Kipper to take a seat and let Irving have a spot. For a young kid like Irving, who has gotten better in the AHL, but being behind Kiprusoff; hasn't been able to make a great NHL splash as of yet. And because of that, Kiprusoff has had to taken the brunt of the starts due to seemingly a lack of confidence in the young back-up.

While he has gotten "better" in some sense of the word, the 1-3-2 record isn't helping the cause for Kiprusoff to keep playing every minute of every game. While his experience is something that has worked well in the past, it may not be the best for the team if his struggles are hurting the team in the long-run. Irving may not be the answer, but with the starter dealing with struggles-- the back-up at least deserves one shot.

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