One of the anchors of the Calgary Flames’ run in and through the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last Spring was Jonas Hiller.
The Swiss goaltender appeared in 52 regular season games last season and compiled a record of 26-19-4 with a 2.36 goals against average, a .918 save percentage and one shutout, helping the Flames beat Vancouver in six games in the first round of the playoffs before falling to division rival Anaheim in five games.
The Flames were feeling good about their chances again this season, especially with Hiller as the starter between the pipes, but things have not panned out as planned.
Hiller has appeared in seven games so far this season, but has won just two. He has compiled a 3.67 GAA along with a .861 save percentage. To compound the bad fortunes for the Swiss goalie, he then went down with a hip injury on October 28 in a 5-4 shootout loss in Ottawa.
Since the injury to Hiller, Karri Ramo has mainly had the responsibility of keeping the Flames afloat as the team itself got off to a bumpy start to the season, but it’s been a tough task for the native of Finland. Ramo has started seven of the eight games since Hiller’s injury and he has appeared in 10 games total, posting a record of 4-6-0 with a 3.36 GAA and an .894 save percentage.
In five of those 10 games games Ramo has given up four or more goals (all five of those contests have been losses), while arguably his best game was on November 5, when he held Philadelphia to just one goal on 27 shots as the Flames beat the Flyers, 2-1 in overtime. He was also placed on waivers last month.
The third leg of Calgary’s goalie trifecta is Joni Ortio. He came in to relieve Hiller on October 28 and started the next game, allowing six goals on 31 shots in a 6-2 loss to Montreal. In total, the native of Finland has appeared in four games this year and has compiled an 0-2-1 record with a 4.26 GAA and an .868 save percentage.
The one overarching theme about all three goaltenders? To varying degrees there’s nothing about any of them that will instill a lot of fear into the opposition right now. While there’s still time for all three of them to turn their games around, they will need to do it quickly if they want to give the Flames any chance of getting into the upper echelon of the Pacific Division.
If Flames fans are looking for a big trade to shake up the position, don’t count on it. Just days before the Hiller injury General Manager Brad Treliving told Josh Cooper of Yahoo! Sports that the organization was “not in a position of strength to trade out of their slump,” and one would have to assume that includes the goaltending position.
Granted, the organization did make a deal this week for a goaltender, but their addition of Kevin Poulin was to help their AHL team that has issues of it’s own with goaltending depth.
As the old saying goes, hockey is the ultimate team sport… And the troubles that have hampered the team don’t all fall on the goaltenders- the roster has dealt with key injuries and Sean Monahan, who was a key to Calgary’s successes last year, has struggled. But instability between the pipes can put a lot of pressure on the rest of the roster.
And it’s that instability that the Flames will need to remedy quickly because the season is slipping away.