Standing Tall: Miikka Kiprusoff Has Finally Returned To Form

Steve McSween@dansallowsSenior Analyst INovember 14, 2009

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 10:  Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames stops the puck with his stick during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens on November 10, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Flames defeated the Canadiens 1-0.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

At the end of the 2003-04 season, the Calgary Flames and their fans were on top of the world. They had the second best team in hockey, and quite possibly the number one goalie.

It seemed as though Miikka Kiprusoff was destined to capture Vezina trophies with the same amount of ease it took him to capture the hearts of Flames fans.

But after four seasons of a steadily declining goals against average, that saw Kipper go from the modern day NHL record of 1.69 to dangerously close to allowing three goals per game, many around the NHL were wondering if we had seen the best of the Finnish keeper.

Though the Flames had a decent record through October to start the 2009-10 season, Kiprusoff was inconsistent at best, and at times was like watching a stripper on speed, he may have been moving fast but you could still throw a beachball through his five-hole.

But what a difference a week makes, as Calgary's number one goaltender suddenly transformed himself back into one of the NHLs elite over the past four games.

In that time Miikka has gone 3-0-1 with a shutout and a remarkable 0.74 goals against average, making him 10-3-2 on the year with a 2.38 G.A.A. and a .921 save percentage.

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It is truly the best he has looked in years.

Yes, you can give credit to the Flames defense that tightened up on second chances for their opponents, rarely allowing any rebounds.

But they are still giving up 30 shots a game.

Yes, you can give credit to the coaching of Brent Sutter for making the players accountable and buying into his defensive system.

But it is Kiprusoff that continues to backstop the bulk of the games; appearing in 15 of the 17 Calgary has played to date.

It is still early, and we have seen these streaks out of Kipper before where it was like listening to Weezer's Green Album; it is so good but not long enough.

Something seems different over the past few weeks though, like this confident, quick Kiprusoff is here to stay. And if that is indeed the case, than Calgary can start selling playoff tickets because the road to the Cup is gonna have to take a detour through Cowtown.

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