Ramo can only hope the outcome is better than in his Flames debut and in his first career start against San Jose.
Ramo gave up four goals in a season-opening 5-4 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals and then backed up Joey MacDonald for the next five games. Ramo allowed seven goals on 42 shots in a 7-1 loss to Sharks at San Jose on Jan. 13, 2009, when he played for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ramo won't be able to ease back into action after his five-game layoff. He'll face a 6-0-1 Sharks team that leads the NHL in goals with 33 and in goals per game at 4.71.
"Everyone is ready to go," Flames coach Bob Hartley said after his team's morning skate. "We work hard every day. Karri Ramo has played very well in training camp, played well in Washington, then Joey MacDonald got us on a roll. So hopefully Karri Ramo can do the same thing as [MacDonald]."
Former Sharks forward TJ Galiardi, who was traded to Calgary after last season, knows what Ramo will be up against.
"Pretty potent offense," Galiardi said. "It's never easy when you play a team with this much skill, and everyone knows how good the power play is too, so we've just got to play a disciplined game and try to make it easier on him by making them go 200 feet instead of having little turnovers at our lines."
"Goalies are a different breed, so I'm sure he's fine," Galiardi said of Ramo coming off a long layoff. "They know how to deal with all these different things. I'm sure it happened to him before. He just was working hard in practice. He's ready."
McLellan was asked if he wants to give Stalock an opportunity to play.
"We'd love to put two nets on the rink during the game and have them both play at the same time," McLellan said. "But [Niemi is] comfortable. he's rested, he feels good, wants to play. Alex will play. We're not going to play [Niemi] 82 games, so Alex will play."
Niemi will face a young Flames team that is off to a surprisingly strong 3-1-2 start. Coming off of a 3-2 loss Wednesday at Anaheim, Hartley has shuffled his lines.
Top-line center Ben Street moved to the fourth line and will skate between Brian McGrattan and Tim Jackman. Second-line center Mikael Backlund will move up to Street's spot on the first line and skate between Curtis Glencross and Lee Stempniak. Center Joe Colborne moved from the fourth line to the second, joining Galiardi and Lance Bouma.
"We have lots of young guys that are making their debut in the NHL," Hartley said. "You're going to get some kids that are real hot, some others that are slowing down. So you interchange them, try to create a spark. They've been working so hard that I think that they deserve to stay in the lineup, but ... sometimes they just need to pull back a little bit, get fewer minutes for a game or two and suddenly they regain their energy level and they're back at it again, and that's what we want to bring. Plus I'm trying to reward the guys that are our best on any given game."
The Sharks made one change to their lineup, inserting forward Matt Pelech on the fourth line in place of Bracken Kearns, who was assigned to Worcester of the American Hockey League. Calgary drafted Pelech in the first round of the 2005 NHL Draft as a defenseman.
Sharks forward Marty Havlat, who is recovering from offseason pelvic surgery, took part in the morning skate one day after going through his first practice of the season. Defenseman Dan Boyle was not on the ice and will miss his second straight game since being sent head-first into the boards on a hit from behind by the St. Louis Blues' Maxim Lapierre.
"Marty has rejoined the team and is skating with the team," McLellan said. "He has a gap to close yet before he's ready to play in the game, but we feel comfortable now that he can close that gap with our group. We want to practice fast, so that gets Marty's pace and tempo up being around the group. And [Boyle] is the same report as [Friday]. He's still being observed by our doctors. As time goes on we expect him to get better and get back in the lineup."
Here's how the lineups could look Saturday: