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Give Kipper a break

The Flames are dismissing suggestions goalie Miikka Kiprusoff isoverworked and tired. In every story about the subject, Kiprusoff isthe first person quoted, saying he’s fine and used to the workload.Then coach Mike Keenan says all’s well and fine with Kipper.

The Flames are dismissing suggestions goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is overworked and tired. In every story about the subject, Kiprusoff is the first person quoted, saying he’s fine and used to the workload. Then coach Mike Keenan says all’s well and fine with Kipper.

Problem is, I don’t see any doctors or statisticians quoted in these stories, so you’ll have to excuse me if I think they’re blowing smoke.

Ask any trucker what he thinks of the regulations capping the amount of time he can spend on a highway and he’ll say it’s bogus.

But the fact remains, the law says truckers can’t drive longer than 14 hours in a shift or more than 60 hours in a seven-day period. Facts and studies have shown, a trucker driving past these limits has a diminished sense or alertness and reaction time.

Yet go ask a trucker if he’s capable of pushing his rig for 20 hours in a shift and he’ll tell you yes, absolutely.

So should we believe Kipper when he says he’s perfectly fine, that he appreciates the hectic workload and that he’s willing and able to play every game.

I can believe he believes it, but we shouldn’t think it’s a true and accurate self-assessment. Nor should the Flames. The facts speak for themselves.

For as many incredible saves as Kiprusoff has made in recent weeks, he has also let in some softies. That’s a sign he’s wearing down, like he has previously in April. Consider the long-term facts. In each of the past three seasons, playing 74, 74 and 76 games, Kiprusoff’s goals-against average went up and save percentage went down in the playoffs.

When Kiprusoff guided Calgary to the Cup final in 2004, he played just 38 games during the regular season.

There has to be a reason why Patrick Roy never played more than 68 regular season games a year. Dominik Hasek averaged 65 games all those years he won the Vezina. Even Martin Brodeur has longer playoff runs when he limits himself to the low 70s.

So why are the Flames allowing Kiprusoff to play a prorated 76 games? Is it because a Kipper at 80 per cent is better than Curtis McIlhinney at 100 per cent?

Perhaps, but who’s going to be accountable if Kipper’s playoff numbers sag a fourth straight year?

 
 
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