Jonas Hiller is out, and Karri Ramo is in.
Flames head coach Bob Hartley announced the starting goalie change on Friday afternoon — less than 24 hours after a 6-1 whipping in Game 1 of the Calgary-Anaheim series — opting to bench Hiller after he starred in an opening-round victory over Vancouver.
The decision probably won’t sit well with the Swiss netminder. Hiller had spoken at length prior to this series about relishing the chance to exact some revenge on the Ducks, who let him walk last summer after seven years with the organization. Hiller also finished the Canucks series with a sparking .931 save percentage, allowing just 11 goals on 159 shots.
But the end of the Canucks series proved the beginning of his downfall.
Hiller was hooked in the decisive Game 6, with Ramo stopping 17 of 19 shots in relief for the win. That led to questions about who would start the Anaheim series, ones that Hartley emphatically shot down by saying there was “no question” Hiller was the No. 1.
But last night, Hiller allowed three goals on 14 shots and was hooked early in the second period. Ramo fared slightly better, allowing three goals on 21 shots.
While the change might be seen as a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, it really shouldn’t be. The Flames employed a goalie timeshare all season long, with Hiller starting 44 games to Ramo’s 32 (Joni Ortio got six.) That’s another reason why Hartley was asked about his starter for the Anaheim series; while he made a pretty definitive statement that Hiller is the No. 1, he also acknowledged he’s more than willing to turn to Ramo if need be.
“I’m very conformable with both goalies,” he said.
It’s tough to move on from a beating as one-sided as the Calgary Flames suffered in a 6-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1. It seems like the Flames are wisely going the “burn the game tape” route.
“They wanted it more than us tonight and that’s a wake-up call for us,” Jonas Hiller said.
The Flames’ struggles in Anaheim are well-documented, and little happened on Thursday to curb such talk … at least for those who tend to cite contextual stats.
“Tonight, they gave us a real good idea of the price we will have to pay if we want to leave this building with a win,” Bob Hartley said.
One concern might be: as much of a wake-up call as this might be, it may not matter if the Flames lost two-thirds of their crucial top line to injuries.
The news was mostly promising after the game in that regard, though.
Hartley noted that Jiri Hudler and Michael Ferland are day-to-day, which can mean anything in the playoffs … but at least there wasn’t talk about series or playoff-ending injuries.
The biggest lingering question revolved around Johnny Gaudreau sitting out the third period, but Hartley said he was merely resting the pint-sized star. He also noted that the Ducks were taking too many “liberties” with the standout rookie. (He received a painful looking cross-check in the second period, for example.)
Long story short, the Flames were about as positive as you can expect a team to be after getting thoroughly dominated and suffering some potentially problematic injuries. They also get an extra day to lick their wounds, as Game 2 won’t happen until Sunday.
Ouch. What else can you say about the 6-1 beating the Anaheim Ducks handed the Calgary Flames in Game 1?
When the Ducks chased Jonas Hiller in the second period, some may have held out hope that it would light another fire under the Cinderella Flames. Instead, it became clear that this wasn’t all on him, as Karri Ramo let up just as many goals.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were like men among boys in this one, with the Ducks’ dynamic duo grabbing four points each (two goals and two assists for Perry, one goal and three helpers for Getzlaf). The Ducks thoroughly dismantled the Flames to the point that it felt like Anaheim could score at will on Thursday.
Frederik Andersen made some key early saves against the Flames. He likely only regrets missing out on a shutout.
If both Flames goalies struggling and a total embarrassment doesn’t scream “worst-case scenario” enough, Calgary even suffered some injuries in this one. The most worrisome loss is Jiri Hudler, their regular season scoring leader (although they may miss Michael Ferland against the big, mean Ducks as well).
Johnny Gaudreau also didn’t see any shifts in the third period. That could very well be a coach’s decision, but he did take a rough-looking cross-check to the back. Either way, it’s a pretty terrible night for the often-sensational line of Gaudreau, Hudler and Sean Monahan.
The Flames need to search long and hard for positives beyond “it’s just one game” and the continued scoring success of Sam Bennett (who scored Calgary’s lone goal). Perhaps “we’ve been in trying positions before” will work, though.
That said, if Game 1 is any indication, this could be an ugly fall for one of the league’s genuine surprise stories.
It also might be a sign that the Ducks are very deserving of the West’s top seed …