CALGARY, AB -- Watching Calgary Flames hockey isn’t something franchise goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is all that accustomed to.
Unfortunately, he’s been forced to get used to it.
Injured against the Detroit Red Wings on February 5th, Kiprusoff has missed a dozen games since suffering a slight (Grade 2) sprain of his medial collateral ligament – exactly 25 per cent of the season.
But a return to lineup for Kiprusoff is on its way. In fact, it’s right on target.
“I did the MRI when I came back here and I think it was a little more than what we first thought after the game,” he said. “Since that we’ve been pretty much on schedule. I’ve been able to work without brace for quite a long time now. Right now on the ice it feels pretty nice.”
Kiprusoff was originally expected out a week after being diagnosed with a Grade 1 sprain suffered in Detroit. Upon his return to Calgary, he was re-diagnosed and was estimated to be out an additional two weeks.
Twenty-four days later, the Finn feels everything is right on pace, which means Calgary could be getting back their franchise puck-stopper sooner rather than later.
“It’s getting there. I feel pretty good moving there,” he said. “I would say it’s pretty close.”
An optimistic sign, Kiprusoff has resumed skating with his Flames teammates in practice, meaning a potential return becomes a lot more feasible.
That news has Calgary coach Bob Hartley delighted.
“The news is very positive,” Hartley said. “Whenever you see a goalie on the ice with his team. I think it’s always a good sign.”
The fact that Kiprusoff is working without a brace is reason for confidence, too.
“It’s taped right now. That’s what I did last time," he said. "I finished the season with tape on it and it was enough to keep support for that. I know some goalies who play with braces, but I’d rather not use it. I have kind of loose knees and loose hips anyways naturally so I like to keep it that way.”
Kiprusoff has kept loose playing 70-plus games for seven consecutive seasons. The 36-year-old netminder was a little stiff mentally after spending time on the sidelines.
“It’s not fun. It’s never fun to miss the games and be outside,” Kiprusoff said. “When you’re hurt you really want to come back early but you know there’s some injuries you can’t push. You just have to let it heal before you come back otherwise you just make it worse.”
It’s the first time Kiprusoff has been sidelined for multiple games since missing 19 with a similar knee injury in 2004.
“I’ve been pretty lucky that way,” he said. “I’ve been able to stay healthy but yeah, I kind of remember.
“It was pretty similar, pretty close.”
Kiprusoff returned after 41 days on the injured reserve in 2004. There’s only one obstacle preventing him from getting back in the lineup this week.
“They said that they want to see him in a real practice first before getting us,” Hartley said. “Most likely Monday, Tuesday he should see regular action in a practice if everything goes good and then we’ll build him up.”
From there, it’s only a matter of time before Kiprusoff is watching Flames hockey from the best seat in the house – Calgary’s crease.
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