Kiprusoff steals the show during camp scrimmage (with photos)
Veteran Flames netminder proving he’s again up to the task of carrying the team
Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff during an informal practice at the Winsport arenas in Calgary, Alberta on January 10, 2013.
Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald
Lunging rightward, he snaps out a pad and defuses the attack. Diehard fans on site can’t help themselves — they scream their approval.
On an afternoon when Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley was trying to get a read on his new squad, it had been Miikka Kiprusoff who stole the show.
The star goalie’s highlight-reel save on Roman Horak, who had been neatly set up by Tim Jackman, was a thing of beauty.
Also — when observers had been dying to see a fresh face shine during Monday’s scrimmage — it was a tad anticlimactic. Because who hasn’t seen that exact stop a dozen times before?
A hundred times before?
“Kipper was just Kipper,” said Hartley, with a shrug. “I’ve told you guys — I rate Kipper in the top five in the NHL. I know that Kipper’s going to be big for us. He’s eager to get going.”
Added Horak: “That’s why he’s still one of the best NHL goalies, right? I can’t say much. It was a great save. I was hoping it would go in, but Kipper is Kipper. Just an unbelievable save. Maybe next time.”
Next time, scrimmage-wise, will be Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday figures to be another day of drills and teaching at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Again, Hartley & Co. will be all eyes.
“It’s the whole first impressions thing, and you can relate that to any other facet of life you might want to,” said Michael Cammalleri. “Coming in, his judgments are based on merit. He’s going to see what he sees here. It’s really simple.
“I don’t think it’s about reinventing yourself or doing anything out of your nature. It’s a matter of working really hard and showing him that you’re committed to doing the things that are going to help us win. I don’t think he’d want to see anything other than that.”
Monday’s scrimmage was high-paced, but relatively tame physically — although Alex Tanguay did take a stick in the honker, although Lee Stempniak did crunch Blair Jones.
Absent for the afternoon affair had been Jarome Iginla (groin), Jiri Hudler (personal), Roman Cervenka (blood clot), Anton Babchuk (shoulder).
“We’re expecting to have all these guys here,” said Cammalleri. “When they’re out there, they’re out there. It’s really about us becoming as good of a team as we possibly can as quickly as we can.”
Matt Stajan and Mikael Backlund scored.
A heck of a coincidence, that. Only the day before, general manager Jay Feaster had been noting that both centremen could greatly boost their stock this week. Then, Monday’s goals.
“For myself personally, I want to come out and prove that the last couple years wasn’t me as a player,” said Stajan, who, in those 137 appearances, gathered 49 points. “I have a lot more to give. I know I’m going to get an opportunity here. I’ve got to make sure that I’m ready to go. It’s a quick season and this team needs everybody going — and me going as well, up the middle.”
Curtis Glencross, who converted a penalty shot for the day’s other tally, appreciated the brisk pace.
“A good tempo,” said Glencross. “We don’t have any time for any exhibitions, so we have to treat these scrimmages as game-like as we can. So it was good to get back in the swing of things.”
Not surprisingly, everyone’s favourite freshman was thrilled to have the freedom to scoot about.
“I don’t think it was game speed yet, but I think it was pretty close to it,” said Sven Baertschi, who lined up alongside Backlund and Cammalleri. “The first part of practice was already hard so the guys were going as hard as they could. It was tough out there. But it’s fun. I love these games and scrimmaging. Before, you’re used to going on the outdoor rinks and playing three-on-threes and stuff. That’s the most fun part about hockey, playing games.”
Camp is a crash course for every team in the NHL right now. But here — with a completely new staff (save Clint Malarchuk) — the challenge is even greater. Actually helping matters, according to Hartley, is the injury bug, because it forces forwards to jockey around.
“Suddenly, left-wings had to play centre, centres had to play right wing,” he said. “So every shift you basically played a different position. I like this . . . because it gives you a better understanding of what goes on at every position.”
Added Cammalleri: “I’m not going to deny the fact that it’s been a lot of information, for sure. But it’s not rocket science. It’s a matter of just becoming familiar with it and understanding how you and your skillset fit into that. Day 2 already feels better than Day 1. I’m assuming that’ll keep going.”
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