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Flames' Miikka Kiprusoff a man of few words, many saves

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter coached goalie Miikka Kiprusoff in Calgary and has great admiration for the quiet Finn. But their conversations tended to be brief.

March 08, 2013|By Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times
  • Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff makes a save against the San Jose Sharks.
Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff makes a save against the San Jose… (Jeff McIntosh / Associated…)

Conversations between Darryl Sutter and Miikka Kiprusoff weren't long when Sutter coached the star goalie in Calgary.

Sutter, who now coaches the Kings, is almost loquacious compared to the quiet Finn. But Sutter clearly enjoys talking about him and their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.

"Man of few words," Sutter said Friday. "That's why we have such a good relationship, because we know what to expect. It's not hard to figure out, right? Show up. Game day. Go hard. Go home."

The Kings and Sutter will see plenty of Kiprusoff in the coming days — potentially twice in three days. The Kings play the Flames on Saturday and Monday at Staples Center.

Kiprusoff missed about a month because of a knee injury and Calgary went 6-5-2 without him. Sutter saw a possible parallel between 2004 and 2013.

"He's a great goalie," Sutter said. "He gives them an instant chance again. The last time he took six weeks off in February and March, he went to Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final. If you look at it, same thing. The injury, the six weeks, came back."

". . . Kipper, I'll bet you if you ask him tomorrow, he did not have the start of the season that he wanted. If you look at his numbers, they're not what he wanted. He's at the age where he's a proud guy and he's a great competitor."

Learning curve

Before Thursday's loss to Dallas, the Kings hadn't been beaten at home in regulation since the season opener against Chicago, and just three times in their previous 11 games overall. Hardly time to panic, but Sutter took note of recent mistakes.

"It's slipped into some of our younger players' games and we have to get it out of 'em," Sutter said. "Get the mistakes out of their game again, and they're easy mistakes to correct if they want to correct them."

Clearly, the defensive pair of Alec Martinez and Keaton Ellerby struggled in the 5-2 loss to the Stars.

"Those two kids had a rough night," Sutter said. ". . . I would say those are teachable moments. What's the old line? When the students are ready to listen, the teacher will talk. Otherwise, don't."

Hrudey returns

The Kings will honor goaltender Kelly Hrudey tonight in a pregame ceremony as part of their "legends series." Hrudey won 145 games when he was with the Kings and was big part of their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993.

"I'm honored. But the other word that comes to mind is embarrassed," Hrudey said Friday. "I don't know if anybody ever thinks that once your time is done with an organization that they're going to honor you.

"You think you're going to do your best and you move on and they move on. So I'm really excited about it. Beyond excited. And really nervous."

UP NEXT: VS. CALGARY

When: 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Where: Staples Center

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 1150.

Record vs. Flames: 1-0.

Etc. The Flames have used a league-high four goalies this season: Kiprusoff, Joey MacDonald, Leland Irving and Daniel Taylor.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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