Flames move forward without Kiprusoff
COLUMBUS, OH -- This isn't a situation the Calgary Flames have been in for a long time.
Miikka Kiprusoff has been incredibly fortunate in his eight and a half seasons with the organization. He has been able to remain healthy and has been an absolute workhorse for the Flames during his time in Calgary. For the past seven years, Kiprusoff has played no less than 71 games and was the busiest netminder in the league during that time.
But on Tuesday in a game against the Detroit Red Wings, luck wasn't on his side. The 36 year-old suffered a lower body injury in the second period and could not return to the game in the final frame.
He is officially day-to-day with that lower body malady but the Flames don't have a timeline on his return to action.
"We will have him evaluated here and to the extent that there is more information that comes from that, we will let you know that," general manager Jay Feaster said on Wednesday morning. "But at this point in time, he's out day-to-day and we'll see where it goes."
Moving forward, the team will rely on the services of Leland Irving and, perhaps, Danny Taylor. The Abbotsford netminder was inked to a one-year, two-way contract on Wednesday and will arrive in Columbus in time for the game on Thursday.
But, for now, Irving will be the go-to guy for Calgary and is heading into Thursday's clash with Columbus on a high. Coming into Tuesday's game in the third period in relief of Kiprusoff looked to be a daunting task but the 24 year-old was cool as a cucumber, steering away all six shots the Red Wings threw at him.
"In practices, when we talk with him, we always told him to be ready and last night, he was," head coach Bob Hartley stated. "I give him lots of credit for our win because an early goal in the third period would have definitely lifted the Wings. We played well in front of Leland but he gave us a couple of big saves."
Hartley stressed that the team will not be changing their approach to games with Irving or Taylor in net. It's business as usual for the squad and will continue to be that way for however long Kiprusoff is on the sidelines for.
"We all know what Kipper has done for this organization ... But he's injured and we have to rally around this. It's another motivational factor for us. I think that Leland is looking forward to tomorrow night's start. Obviously, we'll have to play the same game as if we had Kipper in front of us."
Feaster echoed the bench boss' thoughts, adding that the organization is extremely confident in Irving going forward. The Barrhead, AB native proved he could handle the rigors of the NHL last year when he came in and took the back-up position from Henrik Karlsson after he suffered an injury. His steady, consistent effort in 2011-12 showed the Flames brass that he has what it takes to play at this level.
"Obviously, when you lose a player of that caliber, that's hole in your lineup and it's a big hole. It's a big hole in a very important position. But, at the same time, we have a lot of confidence in Leland.
"Leland won that job last year under difficult circumstances I thought and handled it well. Certainly, even more difficult circumstances this year and I thought he handled himself really well in camp. He came in last night and did a real good job."