Detroit leery of Iginla, Kiprusoff

Updated: April 21, 2004, 11:03 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings respect the Calgary Flames for at least two reasons: Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff.

"Iginla is a powerful and talented forward who may be playing as well as anyone in the world," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "And Kiprusoff has been one of the NHL's most outstanding goaltenders all season."

The Red Wings host the Flames on Thursday in the first game of a best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.

The NHL announced Wednesday that Iginla is one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league MVP, and Kiprusoff is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.

The Red Wings have been able to get some rest since eliminating Nashville on Saturday, but the Flames needed seven games to get past Vancouver in an overtime-filled series.

Calgary advanced in the playoffs for the first time since the team won the Stanley Cup in 1989. That season, Mike Vernon was in the net for the Flames before moving on to lead the Red Wings to the 1997 title.

"In the Vancouver series, our plan was to control the [Brendan] Morrison line, and we did a great job of that," Flames coach and general manager Darryl Sutter said. "Now we have to do that with four lines.

"Obviously, they are a level unto themselves."

The Red Wings, with a lineup full of likely Hall of Famers, had the league's best regular-season record. They are favored to win their fourth Stanley Cup in eight seasons.

"It's going to be tough, for sure," Kiprusoff said. "They have a great team and great experience. But we have to play our own game, like we did against Vancouver, and trust our team."

The Red Wings survived a scare in the first round against Nashville. Detroit won the first two games at home, but the Predators tied the series at 2-all.

Facing a second straight first-round knockout, Detroit outscored Nashville 6-1 in the final two games of the series.

Curtis Joseph is Detroit's No. 1 goalie. He started the season on the trading block, then was hobbled by an ankle injury after Dominik Hasek had a season-ending groin injury.

Joseph replaced Manny Legace, who made his first career playoff start, late in Game 4 against the Predators before closing the series strong.

Joseph, who faced Calgary regularly when he played for Edmonton, gave up just one goal on 44 shots in two-plus games.

"That wasn't really a surprise," Holland said. "He played right about the way we expected him to when we signed him two years ago. We played well in front of him defensively, but when we had a breakdown, he made big saves."

Iginla is among the leading scorers in the playoffs, with five goals and three assists.

"With his speed, it's tough to outskate him; with his strength, it's tough to overpower him," Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer said. "With his heart, there are not very many players who are going to outsmart him. It's not a one-man battle, all the five guys on the ice have to be aware of him on the ice."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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