We all understand how goaltending is a big part of the game and we’ve said it right from the starting of training camp. We feel those two guys can carry the load and win some games for us and they’ve been great. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- Bob Hartley is looking for a goaltender to step up.
With his Calgary Flames in a playoff position heading into the remaining 35 games of the season, the coach is hoping the tandem of Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo can carry the load.
“We have a chance to play games that will mean something for us,” said Hartley, whose troops currently hold down the second of two wild card spots. “We all understand how goaltending is a big part of the game and we’ve said it right from the starting of training camp. We feel those two guys can carry the load and win some games for us and they’ve been great. Joni (Ortio) took advantage of an injury, got hot and we played him but now [Hiller] will start tomorrow and Karri is fully healthy and in good shape.
“Goaltending is such a big part of winning games that whoever wants to run with the ball we’ll give it to him.”
Neither goaltender has started since Jan. 9.
Ortio, who was recalled when Karri Ramo sustained an upper-body injury against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 7, saw the bulk of the work in starting five straight games. The 23-year-old went 4-1-0 with a 1.98 goals against average and .931 save percentage before being re-assigned to the Adirondack Flames of the AHL prior to the All-Star break.
With Ortio remaining in Glens Falls, Hiller will be given the first chance to run with the job.
“[Ortio] was playing really well and we were winning so no reason to change,” Hiller said. “At the end you want to have success as a team and we had that. Now I’ll try to help the team to have more success. We’re still in the picture. I think it’s a great position we’re in but from here it’s not going to get easier. It’s going to get tougher.”
Hiller allowed six goals on 35 shots in his last start, a 6-5 loss to the Florida Panthers on Jan. 9.
He bounced back to stop 14 of 15 in relief of Ortio in Calgary’s 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks last Wednesday.
Hartley knows how important it is to have his tandem firing on all cylinders as the Flames eye the playoffs.
“We talk with them on a regular basis,” Hartley said. “(Goaltending coach) Jordan Sigalet is doing a wonderful job with our goalies so it’s just a matter of making sure we stay focused, we have fun with our situation and we play the game as good as we can.
While Ortio remains in Adirondack, the Flames did recall a trio from the AHL on Monday. Forwards David Wolf and Sven Baertschi and defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon all make the trek to Calgary.
“Sven has been playing very well in the minors,” Hartley started, “[Wolf] is riding quite a hot streak right now. We’re very happy for those three guys.
“Big bad Wolf has been real good. He’s on the puck. He’s scored big goals. He’s doing good. From the time that he showed up over here, getting used to our sheet of ice, getting used to the American League, NHL training camp, this young man has done real well. It’s great. We always say we reward the players that deserve it and Wolfie, it’s great to have him.”
Wolf has impressed in Adirondack in January. The 25-year-old has seven goals and nine points during a six-game point-scoring streak.
His play earned him a trip to Calgary.
“The last 10 games have been really awesome for me,” he said. “I’ve got it going and am scoring goals and helped the team win. I’m one of the older guys down there so I try to be a leader and I’ll try to do the same thing up here.
“I worked really hard down there to make that step and I think like Bob said, you have to earn it, you’re never given it. I think I’ve earned it now and that’s why I’m up here and I’m going to do my best to earn a spot on the roster.”
The same can be said for Baertschi.
Though he’s been held without a point in four straight, Baertschi has three goals and five points in January and four goals and six assists in his past 11 games.
It’s given him a boost.
“I think its confidence,” Baertschi said. “I was playing with a lot of confidence and surrounded by some really good players to play with. That combination helped me out a lot.”
Calgary’s top pick, 13th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has three assists in 14 games with the Flames this season.
He’s looking to build on those numbers.
“Whatever opportunity I’m going to get I’m going to try to make the best out of it,” Baertschi said. “I’m not sure what it’s going to be. If I play a lot I’m going to play a lot and try to make the best out of it. Whatever minutes are given to me I’ve just got to make the best out of it.
“You want to do that every time you get called up again and you play here. In the end I just want to be here and help the team win. Whatever opportunity I’m going to get I’m going to try to make the best of it.”
Hartley believes there’s plenty to be brought back from Columbus for Calgary’s pair of all-stars in captain Mark Giordano and rookie Johnny Gaudreau.
“Probably more on Johnny’s side,” Hartley said. “To be around the Toews and the Tavares and the Doughty’s, I think it’s going to be a good eye-opener. I think you can always learn from those situations. Those two players represented our organization with lots of class and pride.”
Gaudreau earned two assists while Giordano had one to help pace Team Toews to a 17-12 victory over Team Foligno.
It was a win all around to Hartley, though.
“It’s for the fans,” he said. “I was privileged enough to participate in two, one in Colorado and one in Dallas. The NHL has this right. They treat the fans right, the sponsors. It’s a great event for the players, the families. I had lots of fun. I think that it’s a gathering of the best talents of the NHL and it makes for a great weekend.”
NOTES: Both Gaudreau and Giordano were absent from Monday’s practice…Glencross skated earlier Monday alongside Sam Bennett. Hartley said there’s potential that Glencross could play later this week or early next…Baertschi, Wolf and Wotherspoon are expected to be scratched Tuesday against Buffalo.