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|
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.