Ever wonder what life would be like without Miikka Kiprusoff giving the Calgary Flames at least a fighting chance almost every night?



Looks like Flames fans might just find out.

An otherwise encouraging night for the Flames was marred two-thirds through when Kiprusoff did not start the third period of a 4-1 win in Detroit due to a lower-body injury.

While tests were being run on him last night, the development sparked an intensified search for another Flames netminder.

Following the trade of Henrik Karlsson, the Flames have spent the last few weeks beating the bushes for an NHL-calibre goalie to back up Kiprusoff.

After all, the Flames don't have another North American netminder under contract, and KHL star Karri Ramo is still months from having his Russian stint terminated. (The final KHL game last year was April 26 -- same day as the Flames' last regular season game this year).

Joni Ortio, 21, is signed but is playing for Helsinki in the Finnish League.

Given the fact Kiprusoff was expected to play roughly 44 of the Flames' 48 games, it wasn't as pressing a need as it is now, assuming the ailment preventing No. 34 from finishing the game is of any significance.

Barring a trade for a stop-gap solution, the obvious move GM Jay Feaster alluded to after trading Karlsson was to sign either Barry Brust or Danny Taylor, who have been sensational in Abbotsford.

Summoning an emergency call-up is another possibility if the injury is considered minor, making Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Laurent Brossoit a possibility to back up Irving in Columbus Thursday.

Yes, Leland Irving was solid in relief (stopping all six shots in a 4-1 win over the Red Wings) and took steps towards proving he may be NHL material last year. But if it appears Kiprusoff's injury will keep him out longer than a week or two, there's little chance the Flames will have the confidence to put their season's fortunes in the hands of the 24-year-old Irving, who has just one career NHL win.

The results of Kiprusoff's post-game evaluation will dictate Feaster's course of action.

If a significant move needs to be made -- and the Flames still have room for three more contracts -- perhaps the most obvious trade partner is the Ottawa Senators, where big Ben Bishop is a distant third on the depth chart behind Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.