Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blueland Guest Goalie: Miikka Kiprusoff

On Sunday, March 8, the Calgary Flames came to town. I get excited any time a western conference team comes to town because we don't see many of them very often. It's always a big deal when the Flames come (BACK) to Atlanta as they were formerly known as the Atlanta Flames. I was also excited to see Miikka Kiprusoff, I hadn't taken pictures of him yet. Finnish names are so fun...so many vowels.

Miikka Sakari Kiprusoff was born on October 26, 1976 in Turku, Finland.

In 1994, Miikka began playing for the TPS in the SM-liiga, the top professional ice hockey league in Finland. It is regarded as one of the top leagues in Europe. 1994 was a big year for Kipper, he was drafted in the 5th round (116th overall) by the San Jose Sharks. Kipper spent 2 seasons there before going to the AIK of the Swedish Elite League.

After spending 2 seasons with the AIK, Kipper went back for the 1998-99 season with TPS. That season Kipper led the Finnish League in wins (26). He also led the TPS to the playoff championships of the Finnish League, which they won.

The 1999-00 season saw Miikka playing with the Kentucky Thoroughblades, the then AHL affiliate for the San Jose Sharks. Miikka led the team to their first ever AHL Mid-Atlantic Division title. He was ranked 1st in the AHL with a GAA of 2.38 and a save % of .927.

Miikka spent most of the 2000-01 season with the Thoroughblades, but did make his first NHL appearance on April 8 against Anaheim.

In 2001 the Sharks changed their AHL affiliate team to the Cleveland Barons. Miikka spend the 2001-02 season alternating between the Sharks and the Barons.

Miikka started the 2002-03 season with a permanent spot on Sharks' roster backing up Evgeni Nabakov. For his first full season as a back up, Miikka had a .879 SV% and a 3.25 GAA.

On November 16, 2003 Miikka was traded to the Calgary Flames for a second round draft pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. (what a deal!)

Since coming to the Flames, Miikka has been their work horse, playing over 74 regular season games each season. For the past four seasons he has an average SV% of .912 and a GAA of 2.52. It seems that Miikka might have worked a little too hard. Darryl Sutter had this to say after a disappointing post season:
"Hey, Miikka played too many games--simple," Sutter said. "I tell him he's a top-five goalie in the(NHL), and he'll tell me . . . he's top three. But that's what he is. I know. I've coached him. I've seen him when he's sharp. I know when he's tired, I know when he's fresh. I know when he's getting the proper instruction on the ice -- or he's not. All those things. Him and I know each other better than anybody in the organization. "But I'd rather not talk about Kipper because that's the way I feel -- that's how good he is." Expect Kiprusoff to play 60-65 games next season.

Don't be afraid to take some time off, Kipper. You have a back-up for a reason. I promise, you won't let this kid down if you take a night off.

Kipper is a phenomenal goalie and came at a good time for the Flames, leading them to the cup final for the first time since 1996. Kipper has a good glove hand that is made even better by his excellent hand positioning. Kipper has good stick position, but handles the puck in moderation.

Wonder what these little Finnish pumpkins are talking about? Maybe Kipper is telling Kari about all of his accomplishments and awards, such as:
* Winning a gold medal in 1995 AND 1999 with TPS.
* Winning the Urpo Ylönen trophy for best goaltender by the Finnish SM-liiga in 1999
* Playing in the AHL All Star Game in 1999-2000
* Being a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2003-04
* Winning the Vezina in 2005-06.
* Winning the Jennings Memorial Trophy in 2005-06
* Being a finalist for the Hart Trophy in 2005-06
* Playing in the NHL All Star game in 2007
Okay, Miikka, nobody likes a show off!
Take a night off next season!


Candace July 8, 2009 at 7:01 AM  

Great photos...and no kidding about taking a night off! Holy cow, he's a horse :-)

He certainly has come a long way...great read.

The Canadian July 8, 2009 at 8:47 AM  

Of course I have to comment because Kipper was my first goalie obsession. Not with him exactly, but with what netminders can do for a team. PHENOMENAL! They are truly an amazing species. And then when he came to play for Calgary... it was magical. It still is (most days).

I wish we had an NHL team close by to snap photos of. Your pictures are amazing by the way *thumbs up*.


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