Kiprusoff closing in on career milestones

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Even though he’s got some time to rest and relax during the All-Star break, chances are Miikka Kiprusoff’s mind won’t be entirely off hockey — he’s staring two career milestones in the face.

The 35-year-old Finnish netminder is just two wins away from 300 for his career and one appearance away from becoming Calgary’s all-time leader in games played by a goalie.

The 300-win plateau will be a special one. Only 26 netminders have won that many, four of them active (Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Nikolai Khabibulin and Evgeni Nabokov) — but Kiprusoff will become the first Finnish goalie to accomplish the feat.

[Quick note on the Finnish goalie record: The 2K generation has seen a wave of talented goalies from Finland — Kipper, Niklas Backstrom, Pekka Rinne, Kari Lehtonen Antti Niemi, Tuukka Rask — but prior to 2000, pickings were slim. For a long time, the record for most wins by a Finnish goalie was held by the immortal Kari Takko.]

The Flames record for appearances is also intriguing. Kiprusoff will soon break the mark (526 games) held by Mike Vernon. Once that happens, Kipper will be the franchise leader in games played, wins, shutouts and saves.

For some, that’s enough to anoint him as the greatest goalie in team history — but is that selling Vernon a tad short? Remember, Vernon backstopped the Flames not just to their first and only Stanley Cup in 1989…but also their first-ever Stanley Cup Finals (losing in 1986 to Montreal.)

Vernon also played 81 playoff games to Kiprusoff’s 52, recording 43 wins to Kiprusoff’s 24.

Feel free to debate the merits of both Vernon and Kiprusoff in the comments section.