With the Ice Wolves off until Friday, I'm going to take a break from talking about the Wolves and turn my attention to the NHL. More precisely, my home town of Calgary, and the Flames. In the past couple weeks there have been some goings on that don't quite sit with me.
Don't sit with me at all... it's rant time.
Miikka Kiprusoff... the name sparks fear into the hearts of shooters all over the NHL and conjures memories of an improbable Stanley Cup Playoff run in 2004 that resurrected a near dead NHL franchise.
Yes Flames fans, this is the man that was central to your team escaping from the bowels of mediocrity and into the spotlight as a Stanley Cup contender, if only for a brief time. So here's the question... what's your deal Flames Fans?
Before this recent three game winning string Kipper was going through a rough patch. He hasn't been as dominant this season, and for a couple weeks was downright pedestrian. I'm not going to defend that, because when you're a superstar, you're expected to perform. That being said, he didn't deserve what he was getting from the fans. There are valid questions to be raised about whether the years are catching up to the style that Kiprusoff plays, but the fans were giving to him like Canadiens fans to Carey Price in a pre-season game.
Carey didn't deserve that and Miikka definitely doesn't either. Let's look at this like a relationship. If your significant other is going through a rough patch, do you heckle him/her and dump him/her first chance? No, you're understanding and you help them through it. (If you said yes... this is why you are single, and will be for awhile.) With all the love that has gone between Calgary and Miikka since the '04 season, (he doesn't really show it, but he doesn't really show much of anything) you'd think Calgary fans would be a little more understanding.
Nope. The cheering the half-ice save was kind of the culmination of it all, and it's one of my biggest hockey fan peeves. Not cool at all. Especially for the guy that kept your team from being blown out of most games last season and away from drafting one of the top guys. Oh wait... it wouldn't have mattered, no first rounder, but that's for a different time.
However, I'll give you the benefit of doubt Flames fans, because I know many of you haven't been here all that long. Yes I remember my younger days, which really aren't that far away, when my Dad and I could just say, "let's go to the Flames game tonight," and get tickets no issue. Flash to now, the only times I could get tickets in the last few years were the odd Sportchek tickets and my buddy that gets his dad's company season tickets on occasion. Now why the difference? That's pretty obvious, but the thing is, many Flames fans are only six or so years old (fan-years). They don't realize how close their now beloved Flames were to becoming the Portland Flames or something of that nature.
They also don't remember a time when the 'Dome saw some tough times in net. They haven't had to question their netminder before, and that's scary. Well, I'm here to help you through it. Here are some tips to handle your confusion.
1. Last year's ridiculous numbers were probably the high end of the next few years for Kipper. He ain't a kid any more and his numbers probably will start to decline. I'd still put him in my net, and you should too.
2. Goalies have rough patches, like any other player. That being said, it's much more obvious when it happens to a goalie because your team gives up 5 goals per game. Understand that he'll work through it and get back to stopping pucks sooner rather than later.
3. Booing your goalie or doing stupid stuff like cheering easy saves doesn't help. It's not going to make him better, in fact, just the opposite. Kipper may be as unflappable as they come, but he is human and has feelings... I think.
I'll stop at three, because I'm sure you can figure out some ways to be understanding of Mr. Kiprusoff if he has another rough patch.
There may be a time in the not too distant future when Kipper is eventually supplanted as the starter on this team or is traded as the rebuild begins. It's hockey physics, it's inevitable. In the time being enjoy watching one of the best goalies in the game and the fact he shut down the Canucks and Predators in back to back games, and lay off of Kiprusoff.