CALGARY, AB -- Coach Bob Hartley still has three goaltenders and, at least externally, the Calgary Flames aren’t any closer to solving their conundrum in the crease.
But he has committed to one, at least temporarily, in Karri Ramo.
It’s Ramo, Hartley revealed relatively unprovoked, that will be between the pipes when the Flames open their season at Scotiabank Saddledome against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
And the message to him, and fellow cohorts Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio, is direct.
“Win. Simple as that,” said Hartley, who will have Hiller back Ramo and Ortio sit out to start. “We have the same ingredients in net, so we might as well keep the same recipe book. If they win, they play, and if they don’t win, we have the musical chair going. They’re good in this because I think it keeps them both fresh. It keeps Ortio on his toes, don’t forget Ortio. We have plenty of options.
“At the same time, we have confidence in the three guys. I talked to Hiller this morning. I explained to him our decision and told him to be ready. I told Rams, you know the situation. It’s not a surprise to try to find out if our situation is going to be different. It’s going to be exactly the same. It worked for us last year. Those guys are two great guys. They compete against themselves in a very good way, in a healthy way. They’re two great team guys, so it makes our lives easier.”
All three, each on one-way contracts, had impressive showings in limited bodies of work in the pre-season.
Hiller played 119 minutes over three games, going 2-0-0 with a 1.01 goals against average and .965 save percentage. In 148 minutes of work, Ortio posted a 1-2-0 record with a 1.62 goals against average and .946 save percentage.
Ramo played 191 minutes, piecing together a 1.88 goals against average and .941 save percentage to go along with a 1-1-0 record.
He’s earned the nod.
“For me, I don’t care how many goalies there is,” said Ramo, who in 34 games went 15-9-3 with a 2.60 goals against average and .912 save percentage. “The only thing I focus on is myself. Every time I’m between the pipes, whether it’s in a practice or in a game, I focus on stopping pucks. You have to prepare yourself as best as possible. Other people make the decisions, other people, I’m sure they are working on what’s best for the team. For one player, you have to give everything you have and what happens, happens. There’s not too much you’re going to affect. So I don’t try to think about it at all.”
Ramo picks up where he left off from last season. He was the goaltender on record when the Anaheim Ducks eliminated the Flames in the fifth game of the Western Conference Second Round series.
It was Hiller who started the series, but was removed in favor of Ramo. He falls second on Hartley’s depth chart, at least to start.
“There’s three goalies on a one-way and it’s probably going to come down,” said Hiller, who led the trio with 52 appearances in the regular season last year. “At the same time, you never know if there is going to be some trades, some moves, or what’s going on. Sometimes you worry, but you try not too. You’ve got to focus on playing well on the ice.
“That’s what I think it’s going to be. That’s what Bob told me. It’s like, whoever plays well he keeps playing. All I can do is play as well as I can and hopefully it’s good enough.”
Ortio, 24, is the youngest of the three and has just 15 games of NHL experience under his belt. Six came last year, including a stretch of four consecutive wins to help keep Calgary’s pace in the Western Conference.
And though he’s in the press box looking down to start the year, Ortio is willing.
“It might not be the ideal situation, but we will have to try and make this work,” said Ortio, who went 4-2-0 with a 2.52 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 2014-15. “We knew this was a possibility that this might happen and now it has. It’s a little bit different out there, but we’ll make the best out of it.
“We just have to make it work. We don’t know how long this is going to go on. We’re just taking it day-by-day and trying to make the best of it.”
But, as Hartley will attest to, carrying all three is far from ideal.
“Sometimes you make decisions for the game and sometimes you make decisions for the business,” he said. “Both come in the same bowl after a while. At the same time, it’s our situation right now and that’s fine. The guys are working hard and [goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet] is handling them very well.
“It’s our situation.”