What a strange year for Karri Ramo.
The Calgary netminder opened the year as one of three goalies on the active roster but, following a dismal start, was placed on waivers in late October, went unclaimed, and landed in AHL Stockton.
But then Jonas Hiller got hurt, and Joni Ortio looked ineffective. So Ramo was summoned back a week later — and has since taken a stranglehold on the starting gig.
“I feel that Karri, right now, is probably one of the hottest goalies in the NHL,” Flames head coach Bob Hartley told the Sun, after naming Ramo the starter in 23 of the last 26 games. “That makes it pretty easy for us in our decision-making.”
Now, let’s be clear — Hartley can tend to be a tad hyperbolic at times, especially when it comes to talking up his own players.
In terms of wins and losses, yes, Ramo’s been hot. He’s won eight of his last 12 starts and has helped the Flames overcome their ugly start, and get back into playoff contention.
But Ramo’s save percentage still leaves much to be desired.
It’s .910 on the year, well up from the .879 he was sporting at the time of his demotion. But it’s not as if he’s been lights out on a nightly basis — just consider his last seven outings:
Dec. 19: 19 saves on 22 shots in a loss to St. Louis (.864)
Dec. 20: 31 saves on 34 shots in a loss to Detroit (.912)
Dec. 22: 19 saves on 20 shots in a win over Winnipeg (.950)
Dec. 27: 28 saves on 31 shots in a win over Edmonton (.903)
Dec. 29: 20 saves on 21 shots in a loss to Anaheim (.952)
Dec. 31: 20 saves on 23 shots in a loss to L.A. (.870)
Jan. 2: 26 saves on 26 shots in a win over Colorado (1.000)
Still, Ramo deserves plenty of credit for turning his season around in such short order. Given Calgary still needs to fight and claw, you can expect him to get the majority of starts moving forward.
“He’s giving you freedom,” Hartley explained. “You know that you can count on him and not only that you can count on him, but you make mistakes, he bails you out and you go right back.”