InGoal Update: Kiprusoff sheds wetsuit, booze for outdoor shutout
… Plus Craig Anderson’s offer to stay in Colorado; the source of Jonas Hiller’s head problems in Anaheim; Chris Osgood’s health holds key to Detroit’s trade plans; Martin Brodeur ready to return but might not; and more in the Feb. 21 update.
Miikka Kiprusoff almost set a NHL record for the strangest undergarment during the NHL’s Heritage Classic in Calgary.
“I tried a diver’s wetsuit, but it was too hot,” Kiprusoff said.
The Flames netminder settled instead for becoming the first goalie to pitch a shutout in the league’s six trips out into the elements, making 39 saves in a 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in the biting cold and wind of at McMahon Stadium on Sunday evening
Kiprusoff revealed after the victory he tested the neoprene wetsuit during Saturday’s outdoor practice before abandoning it because he was too hot. Still, with temperatures of -9 Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit) for the opening faceoff (plus a wind making it feel 10 degrees colder) and dropping with the sun, Kiprusoff was forced to adjust on the fly, adding layers between periods and sitting on the heated player’s bench during breaks in the action rather than remaining in the much colder Calgary crease.
“Those guys had a pretty nice setup there. It was warm. They were nice enough to give me room to sit down. That helped a little bit,” said Kiprusoff, who wasn’t helped by only facing eight shots. “The first period was pretty windy. I had to add something after the first period, put more clothes on, but we had a lot of good stuff here to use. The last two periods, the second and third I felt all right.”
The outdoor game was nothing new to Kiprusoff, who grew up stopping frozen tennis balls fired by, among others, brothers Saku and Mikko Koivu, back in his hometown of Turku, Finland. And leading up to the NHL outdoor extravaganza, the sizzling Flames stopper had gotten back to his roots during outdoor skates with his five-year-old son Aaro on their backyard rink in Calgary.
“We used a tennis ball and it would freeze and it would hurt,” Kiprusoff told the Globe and Mail of his first experiences with outdoor hockey back in Finland.
Kiprusoff’s biggest fear for the NHL’s outdoor game was stopping hard shots with frozen hands.
“That was one worry, it’s not fun to catch the puck with cold hands,” he said. “But we knew it was going to be a cold day and had lots of stuff to try before the game to stay warm.”
Kiprusoff joked in the Globe and Mail article before the outdoor game that the real secret to staying warm would be in his water bottle. And he was ready for a post-game question about what liquor he would drink back in Finland to warm up.
“I’m an athlete,” Kiprusoff replied. “I don’t drink liquor.”
Did Craig Anderson turn down $7.5-million from Avalanche?
Much of the discussion of the trade that sent Craig Anderson from Colorado to Ottawa in exchange for Brian Elliott – including analysis here at InGoal Magazine – focused on the Avalanche’s unwillingness to talk to Anderson about a contract extension after his team MVP season the year before, and how the journeyman stopper let that slight affect his slumping play and attitude this season.
Now comes a report in the Denver Post, citing anonymous NHL sources, that Anderson turned down a two-year, $7.5-million offer from the Avalanche last summer. Surely this will change the opinion of some about Anderson, just as his 47-save shootout shutout over Toronto in his Senators debut may have instantly altered the optics of his abilities. But both should be taken with a grain of salt.
While neither side was talking about the reported offer in The Post article, it certainly doesn’t hurt the Avalanche to have this spin out there. The story also doesn’t place a date on the offer indicating whether it came before or after the bottom fell out of the goaltending market on July 1, but it seems to make it clear there were no ongoing conversations beyond it, and as sources close to the goalie have indicated, that lack of dialogue (along with diminished defensive play) was a factor in Anderson’s slipping statistics.
Hiller head problems may be about balance issues
Despite seeing a concussion specialist during a recent visit to Vancouver, Jonas Hiller’s ongoing dizziness and lightheadedness problems may be related to a balance problem, according to a report in the Orange County Register citing a team spokesman.
Hiller, who is on injured reserve for the second time since taking a couple pucks off the mask during the All Star Game in late January, is seeing a physical therapist and the team has again ruled out a concussion after another series of tests. According to the report, Hiller is day to day and the balance issues are treatable, which is good news considering Hiller was being touted as a Vezina Trophy candidate before the problem forced him to miss six games over two separate stints on the injured reserve list.
The Ducks survived the first trip to the IR behind the strong play of Curtis McElhinney, who won all three games, including a shutout in Colorado and consecutive wins over Vancouver and Calgary, two of the league’s hottest teams at the time. But McElhinney has faltered since Hiller had recurring symptoms last week, losing three straight and being pulled after four first period goals on 11 shots Saturday against St. Louis in favor of raw rookie Timo Pielmeier, who promptly gave up five goals on 12 shots in his NHL debut, a 9-3 loss.
McElhinney has given up 16 goals on just 68 shots his last three starts. Meanwhile, the Ducks also have Ray Emery, whose bid at a near miraculous comeback from a career-threatening bone graft to surgically repair his hip continued with back-to-back starts with their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Emery lost the first game 4-2, but made 37 saves in a 7-1 victory in the second contest on Saturday.
“I want to continue to get better wherever I get the opportunity,’’ Emery told the Syracuse Post-Standard. “I definitely watch (Anaheim). But I have to focus on myself. As soon as you start focusing on the other guy, that’s when you slip.’’
One-timers from around the Goaltending World (Wide Web):
~Calgary wasn’t the only place NHL players were on outdoor ice this weekend. The Minnesota Wild took to the outdoors for a practice and it was there that Jose Theodore – a cool as can be guitaur-playing tattoo-wearing goalie took cool to a whole new level, donning a pair of shades for the practice:
Photo thanks to NVJ via Flickr
~ The Detroit Red Wings plans for the approaching NHL trade deadline will depend on the health of veteran backup Chris Osgood,. Osgood had surgery for a sports hernia Jan. 11, but was facing shots on Friday and planned to practice Tuesday or Wednesday, according to the Free Press.
“Priority 1 is to find out the status of Chris a week from now,” Holland said. “Hopefully, he’s ready to start stepping it up.”
The Wings have been quiet since trying – and failing, thanks to a waiver claim by the New York Islanders – to add Evgeni Nabokov after he left Russia, in part because the $570,000 they signed Nabokov for is all the salary cap space they have left to use.
~ Martin Brodeur told NorthJersey.com he is ready to return to the Devils lineup after spraining his MCL on Feb. 6 but that doesn’t mean he will get the start, especially with popular backup Johan Hedberg allowing just seven goals in the last six games, including a 1-0 shutout over the rival Rangers in his last start, and being named the NHL’s second star for the week behind equally hot San Jose stopper Antti Niemi.
~ Pascal Leclaire is finally ready to return from a groin-hip injury suffered during warm up for a Dec. 17 game, but he won’t do so with the Senators. Ottawa sent the oft-injured and soon to be unrestricted free agent goaltender to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton on a two-week conditioning stint Monday, leaving the NHL crease minding duties to recently acquired Craig Anderson and rookie Robin Lehner. Leclaire, 28, is expected to start Wednesday against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Penguins.