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Kiprusoff, Hasek showdown in playoff series

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames know they have a top notch goaltender in Miikka Kiprusoff. Now they just have to figure out how to break down the equally talented Dominik Hasek and get the offence rolling in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.

By Miranda Baker

It was the showdown fans were anticipating since it was announced the Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings would face off in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Two of the NHL's hottest goaltenders met for the first time in the post season Thursday in Game 1 of the best-of seven-series. A match-up that saw Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary's Vezina trophy winner, square off against Domink Hasek, an equally skilled and talented Detroit goaltender, who is a six-time Vezina winner and is up for the trophy again this season.

In Thursday's Game 1 Detroit outshot Calgary 46-20 and claimed a 4-1 victory.

"They have a lot of skill up front and have guys that can put the puck in the net, so that's not only a challenge for us as defenceman but for everyone on the ice," said Flames' d-man Dion Phaneuf.

"We've got to go in and shut them down and do a job against them."

Although Dominik Hasek was solid in net for the Red Wings in Game 1, his job was fairly easy compared to the work Miikka Kiprusoff had ahead of him.

Hasek stopped 19 of 20 shots and only faced two in the opening 10 minutes of play. That's far from what the other end of the ice saw, as Kiprusoff faced 21 shots alone in the second frame.

"They're both very good goaltenders and have both had really good seasons," added Phaneuf. "But their (Detroit) goaltender has also won a championship, so we have to make sure we get pucks there and get traffic on him."

The Red Wings stingy defence had a lot to do with the one-sided game Thursday which is exactly what Kiprusoff concentrates on when he prepares for a game. The Finnish netminder doesn't concern himself with who's in net for the opposition, but more about, who's going to be rifling shots towards him.

"I don't worry about who's in net; I just concentrate on the forwards," commented Kiprusoff. "We just have to remember to bring our best game."

Both Kiprusoff and Hasek are hard to beat once they get on a roll. And once they're in their zone that wall is hard to break.

But according to Craig Conroy, the difference is Hasek has won a Cup and knows exactly what it takes to get his team there.

"He's going to be ready game after game and that's the thing with him, he's a competitor," said Conroy. "We have to get traffic, we have to get a lot of shots on net, drive the net, get rebounds and just make it as uncomfortable as we can for him."

And former Red Wing Darren McCarty agrees, saying the only way to beat Hasek is to get traffic in front of him.

"I think he's a great goalie and the numbers speak for themselves," added McCarty, who won the Stanley Cup alongside Hasek in 2002. "But if you look at how the regular season was, everyone has a great goaltender."

During the 2006-07 regular season, Kiprusoff recorded 40 wins, two more than Detroit's Dominik Hasek. The Calgary netminder also had a 2.48 goals-against-average against Detroit this season, while Hasek finished 2.68 versus the Flames.

Kiprusoff tallied seven shutouts, one less than Hasek who had eight this season.

Hasek had a 2.05 goals-against-average in 56 games during the regular season, which is second in the league. But Kiprusoff's save percentage was third in the league with a 0.917.

No doubt they're evenly matched, but as Flames head coach Jim Playfair will tell you, it's more than just about who's guarding the crease.

"I think it goes further out than just the goaltenders. I think our top players have to step up and be top players," said Playfair.

"Certainly the goaltending is important for us, but if you look at the history of teams that win, it starts in net. That's our goals-against, our team defence, our focus on the puck, so it's not just Miikka Kiprusoff, it's our team defence."

So how does one beat Hasek? Playfair believes it's about consistency and wearing down the Detroit netminder at crucial times.

"If you look at it, the busiest part of the ice has to be the blue paint in front of Dominik Hasek, and that's the only way you can outwork him and that's exactly what we have to do."


The Series Schedule and Results

Thu, April 12 5:00 p.m.
Detroit 4 Calgary 1
Sun, April 15 11:00 a.m.
at Detroit (NBC, CBC)
Tue, April 17 8:00 p.m.
at Calgary (CBC, VERSUS)
Thu, April 19 8:00 p.m.
at Calgary (CBC, VERSUS)
*Sat, April 21 1:00 p.m.
at Detroit (NBC, CBC)
*Sun, April 22 TBD
at Calgary (CBC, VERSUS)
*Tue, April 24 TBD
at Detroit (CBC, VERSUS)
*if necessary
-- All times Mountain

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