Goalie nods: Ramo shrugs off trade talk, will start versus Rangers


News and notes from around the crease…

Ramo goes at MSG

Karri Ramo will get the start in goal tonight when Calgary takes on the Rangers in New York, and knows this opportunity — getting the nod ahead of Jonas Hiller, that is — could be viewed as a potential showcase for a trade.

Not that the pending UFA is letting it distract him.

“It’s not up to me,” Ramo said, per the Calgary Herald. “Maybe some players are affected by this, when they are going to decide where they want to go.

“All I can do is to play my best, work hard, and if it happens, it happens.”

There are rumblings around Ramo, and with good reason. He’s unrestricted come July 1, and it stands to reason he’s not in Calgary’s future plans — Hiller is under contract for one more year at $4.5M and the club is very high on 23-year-old Joni Ortio, an AHL All-Star this season who went 4-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .931 save percentage in a five-game NHL cameo earlier this year.

Calgary also has a history of flipping goalie depth at the deadline — last year, the Flames sent Reto Berra to Colorado in exchange for a second-round pick.

It remains to be seen if Ramo would garner similar interest on the open market. The 28-year-old’s numbers on the year aren’t great — 9-5-1, .904 save percentage, 2.69 GAA — but he could be seen as an upgrade at the backup position for certain teams.

That said, he would be an expensive option with his $2.75M cap hit.

(Also, no word yet on who’ll start for the Rangers.)


Canucks at Bruins: Eddie Lack for Vancouver, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Coyotes at Isles: Mike Smith vs. Chad Johnson

Flyers at ‘Canes: Rob Zepp vs. Cam Ward

Sabres at Jackets: Michal Neuvirth vs. Anton Forsberg

Stars at Jets: Michael Hutchinson for Winnipeg, Jhonas Enroth likely for Dallas

Oilers at Wild: Devan Dubnyk for Minnesota, no word yet on an Edmonton starter.

Avs at Preds: Nothing yet from either team.

Habs at Blues: Carey Price vs. Jake Allen

Panthers at ‘Hawks: Scott Darling for Chicago, no word yet on a Florida starter.

Wings at Kings: Jonas Gustavsson for Detroit, no word yet on a L.A. starter.

Goalie nods: Howard hoping for bounceback after surrendering six goals to Stars


Only two games in the NHL tonight. The premier match-up goes in Anaheim, where the Ducks will play host to the Red Wings.

For Detroit, it’ll be Jimmy Howard starting in goal. Howard allowed a season-high six goals on 32 shots in Saturday’s 7-6 overtime victory in Dallas. He spent the last part of the game on the bench, replaced halfway through the third period by Jonas Gustavsson.

Howard has shown an ability to bounce back from tough performances this season. All four times he’s allowed four goals in a game, he’s held the opposition to two goals or fewer in his next outing.

John Gibson will start for the Ducks, who’ve won two straight after losing five of six.


It’ll be Cory Schneider for the Devils at home to Mike Smith and the Coyotes.

Mrazek or Monster? Wings undecided on backup goalie


The NHL’s latest three-goalie situation has surfaced in Detroit.

With starting netminder Jimmy Howard (groin) healthy and set to make his return Saturday, the Red Wings are undecided on who should be the backup — Petr Mrazek or Jonas Gustavsson:

While carrying three ‘tenders is never ideal, you can forgive the Wings for taking their time with this decision, as there are arguments to be made for both guys.

Mrazek, 22, is the club’s goalie of the future and performed admirably with Howard and Gustavsson (shoulder) out. The Czech backstopper has gone 13-5-1 this year and while his save percentage (.909) and GAA (2.55) aren’t great, head coach Mike Babcock praised Mrazek’s “moxie” for bouncing back after rough outings.

Gustavsson, 30, is far more experienced and while he’s only appeared in three games this year, he did play extensively last season. “The Monster” went 16-5-4 during the regular season and provided nice relief of Howard in an opening-round playoff loss to Boston, posting a .917 save percentage in two games.

It’d be easy for the Wings to send Mrazek down to the American League, as he wouldn’t require waivers and would get plenty of playing time. Gustavsson, meanwhile, would need waivers and there’s a chance he could be picked up by a team looking for depth in goal (like the Rangers, who are without Henrik Lundqvist for up to a month, and could probably stomach Gustavsson’s $1.85M cap hit.)

But, does Mrazek deserve to stick? He could be ready for a full-time spot in the NHL, having already appeared in over 90 regular season and 30 Calder Cup games during his AHL career.

It’s a question Babcock and GM Ken Holland will need to answer, and soon — because nobody likes carrying three goalies.

Here are three rental goalies New York could target with Lundqvist out


Following reports that Henrik Lundqvist will be out “at least” a month with a neck injury, it seems likely that Rangers GM Glen Sather will bring in a veteran netminder to his goaltending group, which currently consists of Cam Talbot (33 career games) and MacKenzie Skapski (zero).

So, here are some options:

Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit
Contract: In last of one-year, $1.85M deal

The emergence of 22-year-old Petr Mrazek — 12-4-1 this year, .912 save percentage, 2.50 GAA — has resulted in a crowded Red Wings crease; right now it’s Mrazek and Gustavsson in Detroit with No. 1 Jimmy Howard targeting a Feb. 11 return.

(Don’t forget former first-round pick Thomas McCollum, who’s been solid this year in both Detroit and Grand Rapids.)

Assuming Mrazek is Howard’s heir apparent, Gustavsson seems like the odd man out moving forward and, as far as stopgap replacements go, he’d be good one. “The Monster” has only made three big-league appearances this year but, last season, went an impressive 16-5-4 for the Wings and started two playoff games after Howard went down to injury.

(Of course, for this to happen Detroit would essentially be agreeing to help out a potential Eastern Conference playoff opponent… which could be a reach.)

Jason LaBarbera, Anaheim
Contract: In last of one-year, $750,000 deal

A well-traveled veteran that played under Alain Vigneault in Vancouver, LaBarbera has made five appearances for Anaheim this season and performed reasonably well, going 2-0-1 with a .909 save percentage and 2.61 GAA.

Though he’s spent the majority of this season in AHL Norfolk, the 35-year-old has nearly 200 games of NHL experience and actually played for Sather — LaBarbera made four appearances for the Rangers in 2003-04, when Slats was the head coach.

Michael Leighton, Chicago
Contract: In last of one-year, $900,000 deal

Though he’s yet to play in the NHL this season, the 33-year-old journeyman has been one of the American League’s top netminders in ’14-15, going 12-7-4 with a 2.01 GAA and .931 save percentage.

Leighton, who backstopped Philadelphia en route to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, doesn’t project to have much of a future with the Blackhawks; Corey Crawford’s locked in as the starter, the club is high on Antti Raanta as a potential No. 2 and Scott Darling showed this season he’s capable of playing at the NHL level.

NHL on NBCSN: Avs try to build off hot streak, challenge Red Wings


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Colorado Avalanche host the Detroit Red Wings at Pepsi Center at 9:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

You don’t need to look any further than Colorado’s 22-18-11 record to know that this season has been a disappointment for the defending Central Division titleholders. The fact that their struggles are adding fuel to the analytics-driven argument that the Avalanche overperformed last season has to be particularly stringing given that they haven’t been regarded as the biggest fans of fancy stats.

The Avalanche haven’t lost hope though, nor should they after their dramatic 11-round shootout win in a key game against Dallas on Tuesday.

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“That’s the way we were last year. I hate to bring last year back, but this is something we were doing really well,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy told the team’s website. “We never gave up, and we were very resilient. I think that’s what we did tonight.”

The Avalanche have now earned at least a point in four straight contests to put them just four points behind in the battle for a Wild Card spot. If they can stay sharp, then there’s more than enough time left to close that relatively small gap.

They have plenty of serious tests ahead of them though and the first will be against Detroit tonight. Even with starting goaltender Jimmy Howard and backup Jonas Gustavsson being simultaneously unavailable for roughly a month, Detroit has been one of the hottest teams in the league with a 8-2-0 record since Howard’s last game. That’s propelled the Red Wings into a tight race for the Eastern Conference lead.

Detroit is only getting more dangerous too as Gustavsson rejoined the team on Wednesday and Howard might be back within a week. At this point, the Red Wings have to be seen as the favorites going into tonight’s game; a reversal from the situation a year ago.

Speaking of last year, the Red Wings know a thing or two about being a team trying to stage a comeback after an underwhelming first half of the season and how dangerous that kind of squad can be. They realize the Avalanche can’t be overlooked.