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Flames All-Time Countdown Chapter CXLV: 2. Miikka Kiprusoff

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Two more Flames to go. It's no secret that Miikka Kiprusoff would be near the top. He's the all-time Flames' leader in most goaltending categories, including 41 shutouts and 305 wins.

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2. Miikka Kiprusoff

Kiprusoff was a 6’1", 185 lb. goaltender from Turku, Finland. Born on October 26th, 1976, he was a fifth round choice of the San Jose Sharks in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. The Sharks selected him with the 116th overall pick. Before making a North American appearance, he played with the TPS Turku Jr. club (34-25-9), the Finnish National Team, Kiekko-67 Turku (5-1-0), TPS Turku (34-10-7), and three seasons with AIK Solna.

Kiprusoff’s first four professional campaigns would see him suit up for the AHL’s Kentucky Thoroughblades (42-28-10) and Cleveland Barons (4-0-0), and the NHL’s Sharks (14-21-3, .897, 2.84). On November 16th, 2003, the Sharks traded him to the Flames for a second round pick (Marc-Edouard Vlasic).

In 2003-04, Kiprusoff, also affectionately known as "Kipper," appeared in 38 games for the Flames, going 24-10-4. He posted NHL leading figures with a .933 save percentage and with a 1.69 goals against average. He led the team with four shutouts. He earned the first of them on December 11th, in a 1-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, when he stopped 23 shots. On March 31st, he took another 1-0 decision by stopping 27 Coyotes’ shots in a victory over Phoenix. Calgary won 42 games that season, going 42-30-7-3 and finishing third in the Northwest Division. In the playoffs, they defeated the Vancouver Canucks, the Detroit Red Wings, and the San Jose Sharks before dropping the Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Aside from 19 minutes, Kiprusoff played every minute of the postseason, going 15-11 with a .928 save percentage and a 1.85 goals against average. He didn’t win any awards, but he finished second for the Vezina Trophy and fourth for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

Kiprusoff joined Timra IK in Sweden for the 2004-05 campaign. He rejoined Calgary for 2005-06, going 42-20-11. He led the NHL with a 2.07 goals against average, with 4380 minutes on the ice, and with 10 shutouts. He was named to the NHL All-Star First Team, and ranked second in the league with 74 games played, 16.2 point shares, and 42 wins, placing third with a .923 save percentage. On December 6th, he earned a shutout by stopping 37 shots but took the loss as the Philadelphia Flyers collected a shootout victory in a 1-0 win. On March 9th, he had a 39-save shutout in another 1-0 win, this time against the Dallas Stars. Calgary earned a 46-25-11 record, but lost in the first round of the postseason to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in seven games. Despite a .921 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average, Kiprusoff went 3-4, playing every minute.

2006-07 would see Kiprusoff appear in his first all-star game. He was third in the NHL with 74 games played, 16.3 point shares, and with 40 wins. His .917 save percentage was ninth in the circuit, as he went 40-24-9 with a 2.46 goals against average and a league third seven shutouts. He stopped 378-of-400 shots (.945) from November 4th through December 12th, going 12-2-1 with three shutouts over the span. He stopped all 37 on November 10th in a 3-0 win over the Ducks. On March 27th, he won another 1-0 decision, this time in a shootout by stopping 38 Minnesota Wild shots. It was his 21st shutout in his three seasons with Calgary, making him the all-time leader in the category for the team. The Flames went 43-29-10 and earned 96 points toward a third place finish in the NHL’s Northwest Division. They lost in the opening round of the postseason in six games to the Detroit Red Wings. Kiprusoff played 384-of-385 minutes, stopping 237-of-255 shots and going 2-4.

Kiprusoff stopped 90.6% of shots faced in 2007-08, ranking third in the league with 76 appearances. He was third with 39 wins and eighth with 12.2 goalie point shares. He went 39-26-10 with a 2.69 GAA. On October 30th, he turned aside 39-of-40 Predators shots in a 5-1 victory over Nashville. On February 22nd, he made 38 saves in a 1-0 win against Detroit. On March 4th, he stopped all 39 of Columbus’ shots in a 1-0 triumph over the Blue Jackets. Calgary  posted a 42-30-10 record, but in an all-too familiar refrain dropped out of the playoffs in the first round, losing in seven games to the Sharks. Kiprusoff played in every game, going 2-4 with a .908 save percentage and a 3.21 goals against average.

In 2008-09, Kiprusoff led the NHL with 76 appearances, 45 wins, 4418 minutes played, 2155 shots against, and 1946 saves. He went 45-24-5 with a 2.84 GAA, a .903 save percentage, and 11.5 point shares. He earned four shutouts through the season. On December 7th, he earned a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers by stopping 31 shots. He made 36 saves on 36 shots on February 12th as the Flames topped the Kings, 2-0. All told, the Flames finished up the season with a 46-30-6 record, finishing second in the division with 98 points. The playoffs would see them drop to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. Kiprusoff played 324 minutes through the postseason, allowing 19 goals on 164 shots - an .884 save percentage.

2009-10 would see Kiprusoff go 35-28-10 on the season, leading the NHL in losses while finishing 10th in wins. He was second in the league with 73 appearances, seventh with a 2.31 goals against average, and 10th with a .920 save percentage. His 14.3 point shares ranked him sixth in the NHL. On November 27th, he stopped all 40 shots in a 3-0 win over the Red Wings. In his very next start just three days later, he turned aside all 22 shot attempts as the Flames topped the Predators, 5-0. The team finished at 40-32-10, but missed out on the postseason fun with 90 points, five points behind number eight seed Colorado.

In 2010-11, Kiprusoff piloted the team to a 41-29-12 record, just three points out of the postseason. For his part, he went 37-24-6, placing third in the league in wins and with 71 appearances. He was sixth in the NHL with six shutouts. From February 20th through March 1st, he stopped 147-of-152 shots (.967), going 3-1-1 with three shutouts for the team over the span. It started with a 39-save performance in the NHL Heritage Classic on February 20th as the Flames set down the Montreal Canadiens, 4-0.

Kiprusoff played in 70 games for the Flames between the pipes in 2011-12. It was the seventh season in a row where he made 70 or more appearances for the Flames. He went 35-22-11 on the season, ranking fifth in the league in wins. He turned aside 92.1% of shots faced and allowed 2.35 goals per 60 minutes on the ice. His 14.1 point shares were fourth in the NHL amongst goaltenders. On February 18th, he posted the last of his 41 shutouts for the Flames, by making 28 stops in a 1-0 win over Los Angeles.  Calgary finished well out of the hunt at 37-29-16.

2012-13 would be Kiprusoff’s last season in the NHL. He was limited by a knee injury to 24 appearances and racked up an 8-14-2 record, with an .882 save percentage and a 3.44 goals against average. Kiprusoff made no secret of the fact that he was considering retirement at the conclusion of the season, a decision made more apparent when he elected not to waive his no-trade clause to play for Toronto. He retired as Calgary’s all-time leader with 305 wins, 41 shutouts, and 576 games played.

All-Time Statline: 576 games, 305-192-68, 41 shutouts, 16,018 shots faced, 14,631 saves, .913 save percentage, 2.46 goals against average, 107.12 point shares.