It would seem that Jonas Hiller’s injury isn’t that bad, after all.
Over the course of this week, the Flames play four opponents: the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 30, the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 31, the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 3, and the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 5. They’ll also play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 7, which is just over a week from now.
So that’s at least four – potentially five or more, though – games Hiller could be missing for the Flames.
As it stands, the team has not yet put Hiller on the injury reserve (despite him being eligible if he’s missing at least a week); they sit at 23 players on the roster, including three goalies.
Right now, then, Hiller’s injury appears to be a short-term affair.
Assuming he’s out for just a week – and I should stress this may not be the case, as the club is saying he will be out “at least” a week – this does mean it’s crunch time for the other two goalies on the roster.
After all, while Hiller hasn’t exactly won the starter’s job, neither have the other two netminders.
What does this mean for Joni Ortio?
With Ortio starting the first game since Hiller being out, this means it’s his chance. It might even be the best one he has.
An impressive performance or a win could see Ortio starting games throughout the week. He’s getting the first crack at things, because the organization believes in him – and due to his being five years younger than Ramo, he has greater potential to be the Flames’ goalie of the future.
He could make that future the present with a good week’s worth of work, but it’s entirely up to him to do so.
What does this mean for Karri Ramo?
Ramo’s time in the NHL may not last longer – especially if Hiller is only out in the short term.
The Flames can’t carry three goalies. We know that. If Hiller isn’t out for long, then in all likelihood, it’s Ramo who gets sent back down to the AHL; after all, not only does he not even have the pedigree Hiller has built up throughout his career, but he can simply be returned to the AHL without having to clear waivers again.
Things only get interesting if Ortio falters.
Should that happen, Ramo is Calgary’s only goaltender left to actually play games in the NHL. And if he performs really, really well, then the Flames will have a decision to make regarding their other two goalies.
Ramo has the chance to force the Flames’ hands, but he has a very limited time frame in which to do it – and he may not even get that chance at all if Ortio proves himself from the start.
A short-term injury for Hiller likely means a short-term recall for Ramo.