Flames At Blues Preview: Kipprusoff's Last Stand In St. Louis

Dilip Vishwanat

Flames goaltender Mikka Kipprusoff is rumored to be retiring after this season, possibly making this his last start against the Blues. Just as well, because he's a thorn in St. Louis' side.

Mikka Kipprusoff is Calgary's starting goaltender, and he has been beyond hung out to dry this year. He has a career worst 3.44 GAA, and it's been basically impossible for him to improve it. Eliminated from the playoffs, the Flames have been playing well lately, giving their new young prospects a chance to get a taste of NHL life. Their loss to Nashville on Tuesday ended a three game winning streak for Calgary, and the last time they met the Blues they defeated them 3-2.

That loss for the Blues was an immensely winnable game, but the Blues didn't take the Flames as seriously as they did in their previous win, a 5-2 drubbing against the Flames' backups while Kipper was injured. The difference for Calgary in those two games was the goaltending, and it usually was for the Flames whenever Kipper was in net. He has a 1.36 GAA in his last 11 games against the Blues and is 7-3-1, so tonight won't be an easy game if St. Louis lets up.

Unfortunately for the Blues, they'll be short one of their players who never lets up. Barret Jackman was dinged by a shot Tuesday night during the second period and didn't finish the game, and to keep him fresh for the playoffs he will sit tonight. Kris Russell will be playing beside Roman Polak on the third pair.

Brian Elliott will start again tonight. He held Colorado to one goal on Tuesday night, and in April he has a miniscule 1.14 GAA - which includes the four he allowed before being pulled on Sunday night. He's the best goaltender in the NHL right now. The Blues have no reason to lose this game if they play smart hockey in front of him.

David Perron undid his demotion to the fourth line on Tuesday by solid play, so maybe that was a wake-up call for him. Let's see how much he steps up tonight - the team effort as a whole has improved greatly as of late. Win tonight and win Saturday, and home ice in round one is the Blues'. This game may be against a non-playoff team, but it still matters.

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