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The Calgary Flames are on a great run.  They’re 12-3-3 in their last 18, and as a result they’ve clawed their way out of the basement and back into playoff contention.  They’ve done that despite a starter with an 0.894 SV% over that stretch, helping him to a 10-2-1 record over his last 15.

A few people took notice of Kiprusoff’s struggles while the Flames were not playing so well.  For instance, the Sun’s Steve MacIntyre mentioned “a few bad games” in an article where he described Kiprusoff as “one of the world’s best goaltenders” and quoted goalie coach Jamie McLennan, who said the Finn was “top three in the world.”  The National Post‘s George Johnson noted his “recent struggles” before quoting Kelly Hrudey (“I actually think he’s played pretty well this year,”) and David Marcoux (“everyone knows how mentally tough Miikka Kiprusoff is”).  Meanwhile, over at the Vancouver Province Ed Willes noted Kiprusoff was in “the worst slump of his career” in a sentence where he described him as a “franchise goalie” and called him “the one player who stands between the Flames and outright disaster.”

This is ridiculous.

Let’s take a brief moment and look back at the last five seasons.  We’ll compare Kiprusoff to the leagues other 29 starting goaltenders.

Season Overall SV% Rank EV SV% Rank
2006-07 0.917 7th 0.932 1st
2007-08 0.906 24th 0.919 15th
2008-09 0.903 24th 0.907 27th
2009-10 0.920 9th 0.928 8th
2010-11 0.902 23rd 0.913 23rd
Average 0.910 17th 0.920 15th

The last time Kiprusoff was an elite goaltender was 2006-07, and even that was a step back from his stronger form in 2005-06.  He rebounded in 2009-10, where he was a top-10 goaltender, but aside from that over the past four seasons he’s been one of the poorer starters in the NHL (he even managed to get a coach fired with his play).

Miikka Kiprusoff plays a lot of games.  Until this season, he’d generally played them for a strong team.  But unfortunately for the Flames, he isn’t the player he was for a brief period around the NHL lockout.  For a few brief seasons, Kiprusoff really was one of the best goaltenders in the game.  That’s over with now; he’s still a competent goaltender but he’s not even a top-10 goalie, let alone a franchise ‘tender.

Comments (27)

  1. What is ridiculous is this horrible blog. See, here’s how it works: people far more qualified than you, who have actually played the sport, come to these conclusions by watching Kiprusoff play and knowing what to look for. Some weekly. Some even daily. They don’t just look at the stats and jump to a conclusion; they don’t just look at the shutouts or the save percentage. They look at the player, and they recognize that this is a man who has won more games for the Calgary Flames, single-handedly, than perhaps anyone in franchise history not named Jarome Iginla. Stop being mad at Finland’s best because he isn’t performing for your fantasy team, and start to open your eyes at his compete level night-in, night-out.

  2. Observer’s bias. Kiprusoff was, in the past, an elite goaltender. Thus, when someone, even an expert, observes Kiprusoff now, they seem him in the light of his past. They see how hard he competes and some of the ridiculous highlight reel saves he makes and they miss the fact that he’s been a below-average starter for 3 of the last 5 seasons. Instead they call it a slump or a few bad games or make some other excuse because it’s inconceivable to them that a formerly elite goaltender could become so mediocre when he still competes so hard.

  3. The dumbest shit I ever read, Blogger its about time to get a new day job, if this is actually your real job. He’s on a average team and last year he was by far the best flame the whole year. The guy has been a rock for years and ‘stats’ don’t show his real value. Since he’s been a flames he’s had 1 bad run of games and that’s it. Whatever team you cheer for, he’d make them a shit load better.

  4. Wait I found out why this blog was a bunch of bullshit… He’s an Oilers fan, all makes sense now. And my statement is definitely right, Kipper would make Edmonton a lot better than what they have now!

  5. Whoa that’s a lot of hate for a man simply giving up the facts. Logically he’s not performing, and we can track that and use statistics as proof, I know sports fans and experts like to use words like “intangibles” and “compete level” but goddamn they’re just buzzwords when compared to cold hard facts.

  6. JW is right. Kipper is average to mediocre. The stats don’t lie in this case.
    Sure, he has strong stretches (like most goalies), but over the course of a long season, he’s simply not stealing games like he did earlier in his career. He’s terribly overrated by the media; not sure why.

    I’m an Oilers fan. I admit that Kipper was amazing back in the day. I hated it. He nearly brought the cup to Calgary. He was the second coming of Hasek for a brief period of time. But it doesn’t take Blue & Copper tinted glasses to see that he’s past his prime.

  7. Let me do some math for you.

    The Calgary Flames = A franchise

    Kipper = the goalie for the Flames

    The Flames haven’t had a great goaltender in years. YEARS.

    Kipper = The best goaltender the Flames have had in years

    The best goaltender the Flames have had in years = a Franchise goaltender

    Kipper = Franchise goaltender

    FRANCHISE being the keyword here. You’ll be hard pressed to find a Flames fan who knows their shit that will argue that he’s not an ELITE LEAGUE goaltender but he’s sure as hell OUR FRANCHISE goaltender.

  8. He also plays ten times as much as any other goalie in the league do to the Flames utter inability to find him a proper backup.

    He’s not the best in the league but he’s doing his part for the Flames right now and that’s all we can ask for. The past few cup winners have won without that big name goaltender so really, to us in Calgary, it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t have career numbers. As long as he lets in less goals than the other guy at the end of the night.

  9. So basically, the arguments against are:

    a) an appeal to authority
    b) a rejection of those scrazy stats – who looks at how many saves a guy makes anyway?
    c) you’re an Oilers blogger
    d) compete level

    Guess who else has great compete level? Jason Strudwick. Results trump compete level, and results are based on how many pucks the guy stops. Over the last four years, only once has Kiprusoff stopped pucks at a rate anyone could call elite.

    I’d love to see an explanation for why an elite-level goaltender consistently rnaks in the bottom-third of starters in save percentage.

  10. I’d take C, “you’re an Oilers blogger”, if it made any sense. Jonathan is as hard, if not more so, on the Edmonton Oilers than most teams. And, c’mon… who really thinks Kiprusoff is an elite goaltender? Not to completely discount him, but Kiprusoff’s best days are behind him.

  11. I don’t think Kiprusoff is getting bad, I just think the rest of the goaltenders in the league as a whole are getting better.

  12. Your timing sucks JW, he just pulled off probably his best stretch of games of the season over his last 5 starts!

    It’s funny last year he was ragged on despite having a stellar season and 2 years ago he was lauded but had an awful year. People say stop looking at stats but all they really do is look at win totals, which is the worst criteria to judge a goaltender by.

    @Ray Calling Kipper an upgrade on Khabibulin isn’t much of an endorsement.

  13. @dawgbone:

    That’s why I picked this time to do the article – I didn’t want to be accused of kicking while the guy was down. Certainly his last five games have been quite good.

  14. Rank Name GP Min W L T OT SO GAA Saves% Win%
    1 Martin Brodeur 629 37 582 358 199 40 29 68 2.22 0.914 0.569
    2 Evgeni Nabokov 552 32 078 291 176 28 37 49 2.39 0.912 0.527
    3 Roberto Luongo 588 33 645 263 240 32 35 50 2.54 0.919 0.447
    4 Marty Turco 509 29 064 262 154 26 37 40 2.31 0.911 0.515
    5 Miikka Kiprusoff 458 26 540 239 153 7 45 34 2.44 0.914 0.522
    6 José Théodore 483 27 599 224 190 26 22 23 2.66 0.909 0.464

    If we are strictly looking at stats then above are the top 6 goalies (by wins) over the last decade… Kipper ranks 5th in wins and has played less games then any of the other 5… His save % is ranked 2nd… I would say he is in elite company, not to mention a Vezina and a Stanley Cup Final appearance…

    I would absolutely classify him as a franchise player… So make sure you report all the stats before you post ridiculous articles, not just the stats that support your ignorant anti-Flames opinion…

  15. DNelson – that shows that he WAS a franchise goaltender, and until about two years ago, I’d have agreed with that statement.

    But now? HE’S THE 23RD BEST STARTER IN THE LEAGUE. Like, there’s no equivocation possible with that (and you can’t even argue that he contributes in other ways like Brodeur, as his puckhandling has never been an asset for the team).

    He’s not the league’s worst goaltending money sink, but you can’t deny that he’s not playing anywhere near his salary level right now.

    Top three in the world? I’m not even sure if he’s top three in his own division (and I’m no Luongo fan).

  16. wow, sounds like a bunch of whiny, pissed off flames fans. Who haven’t come to the realization, they’re team sucks and they need to rebuild.

  17. all the people who talk about the quality of team he plays on, you should look at Thomas Vokoun’s stats over the past few years. Now that is some great goaltending on a damn mediocre team.

  18. @DNelson – ranking the goalies by wins (a team stat) already eliminates guys like Vokoun who have been holding the fort nightly for terrible sides, while overvaluing competent goalies on great teams. And including the numbers over a full decade means that you are glossing Kiprusoff’s bad current numbers by including his best seasons. Split that decade into two five-year segments:

    1st five: .918 sv %, 2.18 GAA, 17 SO in 158 games
    2nd five: .910 sv %, 2.59 GAA, 20 SO in 343 games

    Wins are really immaterial here, it’s as much a measure of the team’s offense. He’s stopping fewer pucks (and his shots against have gone up by almost 2 per game, so it’s a bad time to falter); he shuts out his opposition far less often. He’s declining.

    @a. – I notice that your “do the math” post contains exactly zero numbers.

    Overall – I’m not surprised that the world is freaking out about this. Do any post about advanced metrics in general, and about goalies specifically, and it’s carnival time.

  19. Wow this guy is a moron, the only stat he uses is save percentage….that is a very small stat in the grand scheme of things. Look at how many wins he has had, look at his gaa, look at his ability to keep his team in tight games and play to the highest of standards when his team needs him to keep them in a game….I am not a flames fan but this guy has single handedly got them into the playoffs the least two years they made the playoffs, you said he was playing behind a good team but when have the flames ever placed above 7th??? they have been an average team at best since he’s been there and he’s been the main reason the aren’t where the oilers are, YOU ARE DUMB JONATHAN

  20. The truth hurts sometimes.

    Great article.

  21. It’s tough to counter an argument like “YOU ARE DUMB” which is probably one of the greatest and most profound statements I’ve ever heard uttered this side of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, but I humbly submit that Save % (and esp. Even strength Save %) is pretty much the most important state for a goalie since it reflects how many goals are let in relative to the number of shots. Last time I checked a goalie’s job was stopping as many shots as possible. G.AA is a terribly misleading statistic, if a guy’s team got shelled for 50 shots a game no one would care if his G.AA was 3.50 because his Save% would probably be .950 or something Tim Thomas-esque.

  22. Furthermore, here’s Kipper’s GAA for the last 5 yrs (plus this year)

    2010-2011: 2.71
    2009-2010: 2.31
    2008-2009: 2.84
    2007-2008: 2.69
    2006-2007: 2.46
    2005-2006: 2.07

    Other than the 05-06 season immediately after the lockout (which JW mentions above) those are very pedestrian numbers (09-10 is good but not great), and the 2.84 is decidedly sub-par for a starting goalie.

  23. Let’s be clear here: there’s no doubt Kiprusoff was a franchise goaltender. Over his first few seasons in Calgary, he was one of if not the best goaltender in the NHL.

    Things have changed. It’s time to look at him in a different light.

  24. Way to use that razor, Herkes.

  25. I always considered him a top goalie but after seeing his stats I think maybe the Kipper of days gone by have clouded my judgment

  26. hmmm interesting article, a few issues i guess i have, one comparing a player in a hockey market to anyone playing in florida, kinda like apples and oranges, yes there both fruit and have some nutritional value, but basically thats where the comparison ends… when there is no pressure from the media or the fans in general i would think it would be easier to perform, maybe not, who knows… i like advanced metrics, but i also like the old eyeball factor, i think there best used together and not exclusively, exspecially with goalies… does he make the save that keeps his team in it? does he let in 4 goals when his team gets 7? does he shut the other team out when his team can only manage 1?… too many variables with that position to rely only on stats, advanced or not, in my opinion

  27. Sometimes freedom of expression is meant to expose the ignorant.

    Willis, you’re hurting your brutish mind by playing with statistics. If you want to assert yourself in discourse, you should try grunting.

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