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Crease carousel continues in Calgary

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- First, Karri Ramo. Then, Jonas Hiller took the spot for back-to-backs. Ramo next, then Hiller. Now, it’s back to Ramo.

Keeping up? Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley is, much to his chagrin.

“Right now, we’re looking for one of those two top guys to step up,” Hartley said.

“I’m sick and tired of the musical chairs. One has to make a statement somewhere, plain and simple. You play okay as goalies … it’s not good enough. We’ve been singing the same tune for a short time now, but those guys were good for us last year.

“Being okay is just not good enough.”

In his three starts, Hiller is 1-2-0 with a 3.65 goals against average and .872 save percentage.

In his two starts, Ramo is 0-2-0 with a 3.53 goals against average and .904 save percentage.

Neither has been able to get on a roll.

“The key is not to get frustrated,” said Ramo, Hartley’s projected starter versus the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. “Those things that happened, happened and tomorrow is going to be a new game, a new chance for everybody to do the right things. There has been a lot of good things, but we just haven’t done them all the time. We have to start doing it. We are digging ourselves in a hole and we can’t make it any bigger.”

Last season, the Flames were 14th in total goals against at 216, an average of 2.63 per game.

This season they sit 28th with 19 goals against through five games, ahead of only the Boston Bruins (21), and Columbus Blue Jackets (30), who have played six games.

That GAA? 3.80.

But the goaltending struggles have nothing to do with the carousal, Ramo declared.

The situation, he suggested, isn’t unlike the rotation 29 other teams face.

In theory.

“Everywhere in the league, if you don’t perform, you’re not going to play too many games,” Ramo said. “That’s just what being a professional and being in the NHL is. Coaches make the decision who plays and our job is to try to be the guy who is playing. It’s hard, everyone wants to play, but the situation is not that.”

But, noted Ramo, it’s not exactly the same.

“Everyone would want to play after a loss and a bad game,” Ramo said. “Here it’s a different situation. Our coaches want our first power play to score every time they step on the ice, but it doesn’t happen. They expect the goalie to shut the other team down, but it’s not always going to happen. That’s just hockey. Nobody’s perfect.

“For us goalies, you make one mistake, it’s going to be on the board. Everyone is going to see it. You can’t hide the fact that you made a mistake. I don’t think that Jonas or me, that we have played so bad that it would be switching the goalies all the time or the better of the goalies is starting. There are goals that we’d like to have back, but I think most of the night, we are trying to give the team a chance to win. We are not going to lose any games alone, but we are not going to win any games alone. We are trying to give the team a chance to win.”

It’s a chance third-string goalie Joni Ortio hasn’t had a chance to receive yet.

The third wheel in Calgary’s crease conundrum has yet to dress for a game, even as the second option.

“You’ve got to be patient,” Ortio said. “You want to play games. That’s the bottom line. There’s only one net and there’s three of us. To me it’s simple. I’ve got to put in my work, day in and day out and wait for my opportunity.

“If you try to make it a problem, it’s going to be a problem. If you’re trying to work around it and get something out of it, I think it will work in your favour. It’s all about your approach.”

Hartley doesn’t plan to add a third goalie into his rotation, either.

His approach, for now, is to toggle between the two.

And hope one catches on.

“I’m a very patient man and I’m a very loyal guy,” Hartley said. “Ramo and Hiller have been very good for us. My job right now is to get them going. [Goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet] is working with them and we’re talking with them. They’re two unbelievable guys. Nothing against [Ortio], he’s a great guy too.

“But right now, to mix a third goalie into the situation, not right now.”

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