I can not tell you what a pleasure it has been this season watching Miikka Kiprusoff work on a regular basis.
I have always admired the Finnish netminder's abilities, but when you are able to
witness his exploits on an every day basis it's truly a treat. Okay maybe I am bias, but I feel right now he is playing as well as anyone in the game.
There were alot of people who questioned Kiprusoff after what, for him, was a bit of an uncharacteristic beginning. I really never wavered. He is simply too good.
These days he is right off the charts. How many highlite reel saves has he made lately? Lets begin with the paddle save off of Ryan Jones of Nashville to put that game in the basket. His effort in the Montreal game with the pad stack on Andrei Kostitsyn, which completely turned the tide, with Dustin Boyd's shortanded tally seconds later.
How about his play on the road trip to Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix. In Anaheim superb, and so unlucky that Scott Niedermayer's OT winner went off of Dion Phaneuf's stick. The next night at the Staples Centre in La La land forget it. For me his most complete game of the year. -- 36 saves for his 4th shutout of the year and in one word sensational.
Even the game in Phoenix, when he surrendered five goals, he was still good. He faced 20 Coyotes drives in the first period alone.
In a losing cause, his third period work against the Vancouver Canucks on February 17 is hard to describe. No adjective describes some of those beauties. The re-direct off Jonathan Bernier, followed by the glove save on Mats Sundin. Then the save of the year. Kyle Wellwood staring at the wide open four by six only to have Kiprusoff dive accross to rob him with the paddle.
There has not been a day that has passed since where someone on the street or at the rink has not asked me what it was like to describe that one. All I could utter was OH MY GOODNESS. I still can't believe it stayed out.
All the 32-year-old from Turku Finland has done this season is two things. Make critical stops when they matter the most and win.
I truly think he has a legitimate chance of breaking Martin Brodeurs all time single season mark of 48. I'd love to see it, and what a thrill it would be to have a chance to be behind the microphone for that one.
What a pleasure it has been to watch him work every day.
(Peter Loubardias is the Flames play-by-play commentator on Sportsnet West)
Author: Peter Loubardias | Sportsnet Broadcaster