Series Preview - Part 1: Defense First
Here is the who’s who in the Calgary net and on their blue line.
#34 Miikka Kiprusoff – The 29-year-old Turku, Finland native backstopped the Flames to a 2003-2004 Stanley Cup finals appearance in his first season as a starting NHL netminder. In 26 playoff games, Kiprusoff was 15-11 with a 1.85 Goals Against Average (GAA), a .928 save percentage (SV %) and a league-high five shutouts. This season, Kiprusoff is the odds-on favorite for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender. A fifth-round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks in 1995, Kiprusoff has posted a league-best 2.07 GAA and 12 shutouts in 2005-2006.
#33 Brian Boucher – The former Flyers and Coyotes netminder started the regular season finale against the Ducks to spell Kiprusoff, who was given the night off. The Flames backup has appeared in 21 post-season games, all with Philadelphia. The Woonsocket, RI native backstopped Philadelphia in 2000 all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals as a rookie including a five-overtime victory over Pittsburgh in the second round. Boucher also broke the NHL record for the longest streak while with Phoenix in ’03-’04 with five consecutive shutouts and a shutout sequence of 332 minutes and one second.
#3 Dion Phaneuf – Thought of as one of the best rookie defensemen in the ’05-’06 class, the 6-2, 213-pound Edmonton, Alberta native is a strong physical presence on the Calgary blue line with a big shot and offensive playmaking ability. Phaneuf played all 82 games this season and recorded 20 goals and 28 assists. Calgary’s top pick in 2003 (9th overall), Phaneuf finished this season a +5 and logged a team-high 1,781 minutes.
#4 Roman Hamrlik – At 6-2, 210 pounds, Hamrlik is a former first overall draft pick (Tampa Bay 1st, 1st Overall – 1992) with a big shot. He has spent time with the Islanders, Oilers and Lightning and is still the only European-born defenseman to be drafted first overall. Hamrlik, who signed with Calgary as a free agent before this season, missed 31 games in ’05-’06 with injuries to his knee and hand.
#6 Jordan Leopold – A former Ducks draft pick in 1999 (2nd Round, 44th overall), Leopold is known as an efficient puck-moving defenseman who logs considerable ice time. Leopold was third on the Flames this season in Time On Ice (TOI) behind Phanuef and right wing Jarome Iginla. The defensive pairing of Leopold and Robyn Regehr will likely face the Ducks top line of Andy McDonald, Teemu Selanne and Chris Kunitz. The 2006 U.S. Olympian finished this season with two goals and 18 assists for the Flames and was a +6 in 74 games.
#7 Bryan Marchment – Played only 37 games for the Flames this season (23 injury /18 scratch) after signing with Calgary as a free agent in October. Marchment will look for the big hit on opposing offensive players. The 16-year NHL veteran has appeared in 83 NHL playoff games prior to this series with four goals, three assists and 102 penalty minutes.
#21 Andrew Ference – The 27-year-old Edmontonian is the only Flames defenseman listed at less than six feet (5-10, 195). Despite his size, you can add Ference to the list of Calgary D-men who play a very physical style. Ference was acquired by the Flames in 2003 from Pittsburgh for a 3rd round draft pick. As a rookie with the Flames during their 2003-04 run to the Stanley Cup finals, he played in all 26 playoff games and was a +5 with three assists.
#28 Robyn Regehr – A Flames assistant captain, Regehr is Calgary’s biggest defenseman at 6-3, 230 and pairs with Leopold as the Flames’ most defensively solid twosome. In his sixth NHL season (all with the Flames), Regehr recorded career highs in goals (6) and assists (20) this year. Born in Recife, Brazil, Regehr also played in all of Calgary’s 26 playoff games in ’03-’04, posting two goals and seven assists while averaging 26:27 minutes per game.
#32 Cale Hulse – Hulse was added at the trade deadline in a deal with Columbus for Cam Severson. The 6-3, 220-pound defenseman is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. Hulse is married to Baywatch star Gena Lee Nolin.
#44 Rhett Warrener – Another Flames assistant captain, Warrener returned to the Calgary lineup on April 11 in a 3-0 victory over the Ducks after missing 17 games with a sprained knee. In his 10th NHL season, Warrener is known as a tough defensive defenseman. The Shaunavon, Saskatchewan native spent four seasons each with Florida and Buffalo before coming to Calgary before the 2003-04 season.
#46 Mark Giordano – Has shuttled to and from Omaha of the American Hockey League three times this season. A Toronto native, Giordano was last recalled on April 6 and has played seven games with Calgary this season.
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