Tag:Henrik Karlsson
Posted on: December 4, 2011 11:44 pm

Flames goalies Karlsson, Kiprusoff run into

By Brian Stubits

We had more goalies being run into on Sunday night. Of course it happened between two teams that don't like each other all that much (you could probably say that about any pair of Canadian teams).

With the Vancouver Canucks cruising 5-1 over the Calgary Flames in the third period, there was an unfortunate accident that took Flames goalie Henrik Karlsson out.

On the play the Canucks' Jannik Hansen was driving to the net and being chased by Tom Kostopoulos. Both guys eventually go down and Kostopulous slid right into Karlsson who immediately began grabbing at what appeared to be his knee. Karlsson left the game after the hit and limped toward the locker room.

This was just an unfortunate accident, a little friendly fire. Seemed to be nothing more than a freak play leaving a player perhaps injured, we'll know more later how seriously.

But then Miikka Kiprusoff came on to relieve Karlsson and, wouldn't you know it, he was run into too.

This time the hit was actually levied by an opponent as David Booth tried to cross in front of the crease but was held up by Joe Piskula and was left with nowhere else to go. So he ran into Kiprusoff.

Of course, a melee ensued. The Flames were already being beat and lost a goalie from a hit, so they took exception to this one. Plus, it really didn't look good for Booth, who seemed to follow through the impact high. Granted, it looks worse than it was, but with the heightened sense of protection around the goalies right now, it will raise some eyebrows.

You just know that this will remain a hot topic until something is done about it. What, I'm not entirely sure. But there is a lot of clamoring for clarification of the rules if nothing else. Soon they will be protected with the same ferocity that we see in football with the quarterbacks.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 19, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 7:12 pm

Kiprusoff's workload and the Flames goaltending


By: Adam Gretz

When Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster took part in a question and answer session with fans a couple of weeks ago one of the topics that was discussed was whether or not starting goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff would be asked to start over 70 games again.

Kiprusoff, who was acquired by the Flames during the 2003-04 season and helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final that year, has been one of the most durable goaltenders in the NHL in the years since, starting no fewer than 70 games in each of the past six seasons.

Since the NHL came out of the lockout in 2005, no goalie has started more games than Kiprusoff's 442, while the only other player to start more than 400 over that stretch has been Vancouver's Roberto Luongo with 401. Only 13 have started more than 300, and Kiprusoff is the only goalie to start at least 70 games in each of the past six seasons. That's asking a lot of any goaltender given how physically and mentally demanding the position is, and it's possible that it's starting to wear on the soon-to-be 35-year-old goalie.

Feaster admitted that it's unlikely that Kiprusoff will be asked to carry such a heavy workload this season, which means a few more starts for backup Henrik Karlsson. And that may not be a bad thing for the Flames, as Kiprusoff's play has declined a bit in recent years with a save percentage below .907 in four of the past five years, including this past season.

Take a look at a quick breakdown of his save percentage by situation (even strength and on the penalty kill) compared to the league average in each of the past fives seasons. Notice how in many cases it's been either right around or below the league average:

Miikka Kiprusoff vs. The League
Year Kiprusoff ES SV% League Avg. ES SV% Kiprusoff PK SV% League Avg. PK SV%
2010-11 .916 .920 .859 .875
2009-10 .928 .919 .879 .873
2008-09 .907 .918 .898 .867
2007-08 .919 .919 .857 .867
2006-07 .932 .916 .865 .865

His even strength and penalty kill numbers have been average to below average in three of the past five years. Is this just the typical decline that goes with being a goaltender in his mid-30's? Or is it the result of an almost unheard of workload? It's possible that it's simply a combination of the two.

Kiprusoff's durability has been admirable for a goaltender, but his level of play no longer warrants him getting that many starts over the course of the season. The concern, of course, is whether or not Karlsson can give the Flames a quality backup, and there isn't much of an NHL track record to go on. The 27-year-old has started just 11 games in his brief career, all of which came last season.

Overall, his save percentage of .908 was a marginal improvement over the .906 mark Kiprusoff posted, but was significantly worse in even strength situations (.916 to .905).

That also doesn't take into account the fact that Karlsson, as the backup, was getting his starts against lesser competition and also picking up some playing time off the bench in relief of Kiprusoff whenever he was lifted early from a game.

Here is the list of teams that Karlsson started against last season:

Columbus, Colorado, New Jersey, Minnesota, Anaheim, Columbus, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Dallas, Phoenix, Vancouver

His save percentage in those starts: .904

Not exactly a list of the NHL's power house offensive teams last season. Only two of those teams qualified for playoffs (Anaheim and Vancouver), while only three finished in the top-half of the league in goals, with only one finishing in the top-10: Vancouver (1), Anaheim (11) and Phoenix (14).  

So while the numbers look comparable, it's important to keep in mind that Karlsson was doing it against some of the worst offensive teams in the NHL.

The position should be a point of concern for Flames fans given Kiprusoff's decline, the fact he is signed for another three seasons at a cap hit of just under $6 million, one of the largest in the league among goaltenders, and the backup behind him is, at this point, still a bit of a question mark.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 2, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 4:46 pm

Jay Feaster answers questions from fans


By: Adam Gretz

As a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates I know what it's like to follow a team that never wins (zero winning seasons since 1992. And counting!). By the end of the season the focus, as a fan, goes from winning games (that usually stops by early June) to securing a top draft pick. Because, hey, if you're going to lose and not contend for a playoff spot, you might as well lose a ton and get a potential franchise-changing player at the top of the draft. Not all fans want to see their teams tank it late in the season for draft pick positioning, but they do exist.

This line of thinking, of course, is fine for a fan.

For players, who are fighting for roster spots the following season, whether it be with the current team or a new team, they aren't going to (and shouldn't) care about a draft pick that might play for the team in two or three years when they may be playing for somebody else. A person in the front office with plenty of job security may not be opposed to trying to secure a top pick, but is unlikely to do anything to sabotage the team's season ... and if they are, they certainly aren't going to admit it.

On Thursday, Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster took part in a fan forum and answered some questions from Flames Fans. He was asked why the Flames haven't tried to model the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals by trying to build around high draft picks.

Here is Feaster's response, via Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald:
“I’m sorry — Edmonton finished where last year, caller? Want to wager on where we finish relative to Edmonton this year? I’m tired of this question, I’ll tell you very honestly. I’m getting a little sour. How many teams . . . every year, for the last 10 years, five years, eight years, have finished in the bottom five, bottom seven, bottom 10? They’ve had a pick anywhere from No. 1 to No. 10 year after year after year after year, and they still wander in the desert. And they’re no closer to getting out than they were 10 years ago.

“You know what? I look forward to the Battle of Alberta for the next X number of years. If the idea is, ‘Burn it to the ground,’ then Ken can find another manager to do it.”

Well, Feaster is right about one thing: It's a solid bet that Calgary is going to finish ahead of Edmonton in the standings this season, but if the Flames finish outside of the top-eight in the Western Conference, as they've done in each of the past two seasons, they will be in the same position as Edmonton when it comes to playing in the playoffs. I do, however, love the candid response, and have wondered how a general manager would react when presented with that scenario (losing to get a high draft pick) by a fan.

Still, as exciting as it is  for that one day of the NHL calender (draft day) to get the top pick in the draft, nobody wants to be picking in that spot every year because it means your team stinks and isn't winning many games.

Teams like Chicago (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews), Washington (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom) and Pittsburgh (Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury) had some high draft picks over the years and used them as key building blocks in turning their franchise from being a bottom feeder to a contender. Two of those teams (Chicago and Pittsburgh) have won the Stanley Cup over the past three years, while the other (Washington) has consistently been one of the top teams in the NHL in the regular season over the past four years.

But there's also been examples of teams like Florida and Atlanta (now the Winnipeg Jets) that have been picking in the top-10 on a rather consistent basis and haven't had anywhere near that level of success. They are, as Feaster put it, still wandering the desert.

In other news, Feaster was also asked whether or not goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff will be counted on to play 70 games again as he's done in each of the past six seasons. Feaster said, again via the Herald, that Kiprusoff will not be asked to carry such a heavy workload this season, and that 28-year-old back Henrik Karlsson will see more ice-time.

In 17 appearances last season Karlsson posted a 4-5-6 record along with a .908 save percentage.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com