The Calgary Flames - Hot Coals for Thursday and the Kiprusoff Narrative

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My take on the Kipper narrative after the jump

Fact: Miikka Kiprusoff is one of the most popular Flames, only Jarome Iginla is more popular among the masses of fans.

Narrative: The Kipper myth is that he carries the team like Jarome. The often perpetuated narrative is that of a uber-elite overworked goalie who makes the big saves but doesn't have a good enough team in front of him. If Kipper stands on his head the Flames win, if he doesn't the Flames lose.

Reality: Kipper doesn't have to be top 5 elite goalie for the Flames to make the playoffs. Lets leave his contract cost out of the conversation at the moment. He just has to perform as a solid top 10 G, even top 15 may do it. He just has to be consistent at this level. 

The Cliche: The cliche is that as Kipper goes, so go the Flames. Implying that he alone holds the destiny of the team in his hands. The failing of this cliche, or what is overlooked, is that it is not Kipper specific. The same could be said about any NHL starting Goalie. 

Last season was the first time in my memory that Kipper was actually booed by fans in the Saddledome. The scary part of it is that the Flames had emerged from their terrible start already in late December but Kipper's play continued to wobble and wobble noticeably to even the Flames faithful in the Dome. [The Hockey News] 

The team rallied behind him, the hardcore fans were there and few were ready to think the unthinkable, to imagine the unimaginable. Do the Flames have a sub-par goaltender between the pipes?

You can't handle the truth (via mightyzizou)

Goaltending is one of the most difficult positions in professional sports. Incredible pressure and Goalies lose games for the team. They don't win them but they certainly lose them. As Cleave highlighted the Flames actually did a very good job in keeping EVS shots low last season, among the top in the NHL but the ones that did get through also got past Kipper. 

It is very difficult to imagine Kipper as a sub-standard Goaltender, it flies so dramatically in the face of his narrative but consistency is also a key feature of the true NHL elite and Kipper's performance over the years has swung like a pendulum. Kipper has gone from winning the Vezina to several sub-par seasons. These are merely facts one can not deny. 

One of the reasons Mike Keenan was rumored to have been let go was because he played head games with Kipper. Kipper responded the following season with a strong performance. Only to follow it up last year with one of his worst outings. Jamie McClennan has been fired this off-season to be replaced by Clint Malarchuk as goaltending coach. Will it make a difference? We will see.

Kipper's narrative is extremely powerful, even fans of rival teams, ones who have no reason to support Kipper defend him and it is Kipper's miracle saves that stick in their mind.

Miikka Kiprusoff Kick Save robs Scott Nichol 2009/12/05 (via jonathanchoy)

Another here, called save of the decade with some funky and weird homage music.

Miikka Kiprusoff - Save of the Decade (via KimmoKuopio)

The bottom line is that goaltending is an area of concern for the Flames. Elite money is tied up in a starting G who may not even earn the starting role on over half the teams in the NHL. 

Kipper is highly valued by the fans, sheltered by the mainstream media, highly valued because of his narrative and he makes these highlight reel saves on occasion. Personally, I would be more than happy with a boring Goalie who always was in position and didn't need to go acrobatic to recover position. 

Just stop the stoppable, the miracle save is once or twice a season and I would prefer the other ~2000 shots are safely taken care of because 9 times out of 10 that is what will give the team the 2 points. The mainstream media will never touch this issue with such a popular player but maybe they should. 

If Kipper was in Montreal Habs fans would have eaten him alive last season. 

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