It didn’t take long for Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley to confirm Miikka Kiprusoff as his starting goaltender for Wednesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
In fact, it was the initial inquiry fired his way.
“I never thought that would be the first question,” Hartley joked. “Yes, Kipper is starting. He feels great. The medical staff has cleared him. We will see Kipper between the pipes tonight.”
After working on the ice for the last week, Kiprusoff let his coach know it was time.
“I told him, I said ‘Are you ready?’ and he answered back ‘I want to play’,” Hartley said. “Once the medical staff clears you and the player tells the coach that he wants to play, you just open the door.”
Missing 13 games, Kiprusoff will make his first start since suffering a sprained knee against the Detroit Red Wings on February 5th. Until that point, he had played every minute for the Flames this season.
The return of Calgary’s all-time winningest goaltender is a welcomed sight to captain Jarome Iginla.
“To have Kipper back, he’s one of the best goalies, most consistent, one of the best in the game,” he said. “It would be a big boost.
Without Kiprusoff, Calgary’s cast of goaltenders went 6-5-2.
“Leland Irving, Danny Taylor, Joey MacDonald, they deserve lots of credit,” Hartley said. “I think we did it as a team but those guys came in, they pitched a couple of big games for us and that was a key.
“When you lose your number one goalie, it definitely leaves a hole but on our side. While our game was improving, our goaltenders that we used, they did a fine job for us and that’s why we’re still in the mix. We’re not where we want to be, but right now we have a chance.”
Much like the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, the San Jose Sharks have had their Calgary arrival delayed.
A thick fog will keep the Sharks from arriving at Scotiabank Saddledome until midday Wednesday.
“It’s some wacky weather for sure,” Iginla said. “From our point of view, we have to take advantage of that and it’s not something teams are usually used to, traveling and playing on the same day. Vancouver did it last game and we knew that.”
The Flames upended the Canucks 4-2 with the advantage. They’ll try to do the same against San Jose, who bested Calgary in their season opener 4-1 back on January 20th.
“We’ll take any advantage we can,” Mike Cammalleri said. “I’ve always thought us and Colorado in particular with the altitude, you always have a little bit of an advantage. That’s another help and our job is to make sure we work that to our favour.”
The advantage doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win for the Flames said Iginla. It puts more pressure on Calgary to capitalize on the edge, too.
“(Vancouver) had a tough schedule but it’s almost like they had nothing to lose last game for them where it’s just like ‘just go get it’,” he said. “For us, we have to take advantage of that or we never hear the end of it. It’s a situation where honestly, we just keep focusing on ourselves and not think it’s going to be any easier, anything like that, and just be ready and find a way to win.”
STAAL INJURY SPARKS VISOR TALK
New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal doesn’t wear a visor, but he may be reconsidering.
Taking a slap shot to the face during the third period of New York’s 4-2 win over the Philadephia Flyers on Tuesday, Staal immediately left the game and did not return. The Rangers haven’t updated the status of the six-foot-four, 204-pound rearguard, either.
Staal’s injury may have been prevented had he been wearing a visor, sparking debate whether or not the facial protection should be mandatory.
“I’m not going to make a statement that it’s something the NHL should aggressively move to and put anybody in the hot seat that way,” Cammalleri said. “I’m a big proponent of player safety and I will say the NHL and the PA are doing a lot. There are a lot of efforts these days as far as addressing player safety. I’ve seen it first hand and have been very pleased with their efforts that way.”
Iginla said he’s fine with making shields mandatory, but suggested they be worked in the way the use of helmets were in 1979.
“If it was grandfathered, I’d be all for that,” Iginla said. “I think guys coming up from junior, I don’t think it’s an adjustment.”
Over 70 per cent of Flames players are currently sporting visors.