We have two goalies that can be No. 1. That’s a real good problem. We’ll just let them battle and we’ll try to pick the hottest goalie at the right time and if a goalie wants to run with it, I have no problem. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- There’s a battle brewing in the Calgary Flames crease, but that’s nothing new for goaltender Karri Ramo.
For a second straight camp, his only two in Calgary, Ramo will be tasked with unseating another in his bid for the right to the No. 1 job in the Flames net. Last year, he usurped Reto Berra, making the 27-year-old Bulach, CHE netminder expendable at the NHL Trade Deadline.
Now, he’s up against another Swiss goaltender in Jonas Hiller.
“We have two great goalies,” coach Bob Hartley said. “We have two goalies that can be No. 1. That’s a real good problem. We’ll just let them battle and we’ll try to pick the hottest goalie at the right time and if a goalie wants to run with it, I have no problem. It’s just a matter of making sure we prepare both guys and then lets get the season going.”
Having both suits captain Mark Giordano just fine.
“It’s been great so far,” he said. “The confidence of the group goes up when your goaltenders are calm back there and they’re playing well. I think both of them have played well. I think Ramo’s looked really sharp considering he missed a couple weeks there.
“Those big saves, those timely saves go a long way for a team and give that confidence, for sure.”
Who will, for the most part, be tasked with making those timely saves?
Hiller was signed to a two-year, $9 million at the opening of free agency on July 1st.
Conventional wisdom would lend itself to suggest that Hiller is the frontrunner from the starting position. Both his contract, in both length and monetary value, exceed that of Ramo’s pact, which has one year remaining before he’s eligible for unrestricted free agency.
The fact Ramo came into camp nursing an injury doesn’t help, either.
But that’s not the case.
“That was our plan to just go step-by-step and not to do too much and take steps backwards,” Ramo said. “We’re progressing. Everything is going fine. It’s good to get those games in. I missed all the scrimmages, so it’s good to introduce a game this way. I feel good. I felt good in Vancouver and I felt even better (Sunday).”
Ramo has looked good, too.
A 60-minute workload scattered over two games has left Ramo with a 1.00 goals against average and .968 save percentage. He’s allowed just one goal, a marker from Ryan O’Reilly of the Avalanche on Sunday, on 31 shots.
Hiller, though, hasn’t fared too poorly either. In 140-minutes -- a three-game workload -- the 32-year-old has save percentage, after stopping 46 of 48 shots faced, of .958.
“At the end, I guess we’re in the same boat,” Hiller said. “If the team has success, it’s easy for us to have success. We’re trying to help each other out. Sure, at the end everybody wants to play but I think it’s up to everybody to show that on the ice and off the ice, I think you can still get along really well and help each other out.”