No one likes to have three goalies around. That’s a pain. It’s not healthy but that’s our situation right now. Karri is hurt. Nobody asked for this but that’s the way it goes. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- Three goaltenders and two nets just doesn’t add up for Bob Hartley.
Having Jonas Hiller, Joni Ortio and Karri Ramo all on the ice for an optional skate Monday isn’t ideal, the Calgary Flames coach admitted.
“I personally hate to carry three goalies,” Hartley said. “No one likes to have three goalies around. That’s a pain. It’s not healthy but that’s our situation right now. Karri is hurt. Nobody asked for this but that’s the way it goes. We’re going to sit with the medical staff, we’re going to sit with management and we’re going to make the decisions based upon Karri’s condition.”
Ramo’s condition isn’t clear. The 28-year-old sustained an upper body injury Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings and didn’t return to the game. He’s currently on IR.
Ortio, recalled Thursday from Adirondack of the American Hockey League, made the most his first NHL start of the season, stopping all 36 shots faced to help the Flames to a 1-0 victory over teh Vancouver Canucks and netting his first career NHL shutout in the process.
“Obviously trying to make an impression for sure,” Ramo said. “I’m trying to make my case. Thank God it’s not serious, Ramo’s injury. I’m just kind of taking it day-by-day. I don’t know what tomorrow holds in store for me but I’m just trying to make the most of this opportunity and make it count.”
Until Ramo’s injury situation is straightened out, Hartley will be faced with working a three-man rotation as Calgary works through their second four-day break between games this month.
There are signs of progress but no set timetable as of yet, Hartley declared.
“Karri is starting to feel good,” Hartley said. “He’s still not medically cleared. We’re going to keep three until we find our really what’s going on with Karri. He worked out yesterday, got a good on-ice workout today. It looks good. We felt that it was minor at the time of the injury. We’re still following the same timetable.
“I think if we see him face shots right now, that’s a real good sign. We’re going to sit with the medical staff and there’s possibility that we have three goalies in practice tomorrow.”
GIVEN THE OPTION
The trio of goaltenders made up nearly half of the participants at Monday’s skate. The practice was optional.
“It’s all about managing the energy,” Hartley said. “We feel like with two good days of practice we have absolutely no excuse not to be ready. The boys had a good day off yesterday so we gave them the option today of either being in the gym or being on the ice. They’re pros.
“They know what they need in order to be ready and that was the purpose of our meetings this morning, managing our energy, making sure doing what’s right for us, not only when we’re in the building, but also all around the ice, all around the game, our nutrition, our rest, everything.”
Just five skaters opted for the spin.
Others, like Mark Giordano, opted for the gym.
With another couple days of practice before the club with visit the Arizona Coyotes, it’s all about managing Calgary’s lengthy breaks.
“We played so many at the start it felt like,’ Giordano said. “We’ve got to let the other teams catch up at some point. This is the time. I think it’ll be good. Going into the All-Star break everyone will be around the same amount of games. Our coaches have done a good job of giving us the proper rest in these couple breaks we’ve had. We’ll be refreshed and hopefully that pays off.”
The Flames have already rested through one four-day break between games, with four non-game days between losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings.
In another and with five days off later in the month for the All-Star break has Johnny Gaudreau feeling like he’s back in a college routine.
“It feels a little bit more like college but no classes, which is a little bit nicer,” he said. “The time off is pretty nice.
“It’s really important for me. I know last week I talked to Coach Hartley about how crucial it is off the ice and getting rest. I’m really taking it seriously.”
BACKS UP TO SPEED
Missing 29 games with an abdominal injury hasn’t slowed Mikael Backlund at all. The 25-year-old has goals in three straight games since returning.
“It seems like he didn’t miss a game all year,” Hartley said. “That’s so important for us because we need his minutes, we need his offensive contributions and he’s probably one of the most underrated two-way players in the league. He’s very, very smart defensively.”
Hartley wasn’t sure what to expect with Backlund’s return.
But he senses the centre is playing with full confidence.
“It’s not about surprise or not surprised,” Hartley started. “I’m very happy. There’s always the unknown. We’re coaching human beings. You can’t come back in the lineup in your first game and your confidence is at 100 percent. It goes for everyone. After this it’s all the way the game goes. If you can find a loose puck around or if you can get a good scoring chance and suddenly it builds, well with [Backlund], a goal and an assist in his first game gave him a big boost.
NOTES: Gaudreau, Mason Raymond, Markus Granlund, Ladislav Smid and Raphael Diaz took to the ice alongside the three goalies…Ortio, who went from Chicago to Toronto to Winnipeg to Calgary before recording his shutout in Vancouver on Saturday, finally received his luggage Monday…Starting with Arizona on Thursday, the Flames will play four games in seven nights. Gaudreau and Giordano were named Calgary's representatives for the All-Star weekend.