We were prepared for at least two things tonight:
- Karri Ramo’s fourth consecutive start, and 16th start and 17 games, and
- Micheal Ferland to be a healthy scratch.
Now, neither is happening. Ferland is in as Jiri Hudler is a late scratch with the flu, and Jonas Hiller, who was also supposedly sick, is starting.
Good for Ferland to get back in. I wrote earlier today that it wasn’t the end of the world if he was a healthy scratch every now and then – in fact, it could be beneficial for him in the long run – but of course, it’s also not a bad thing to have him in the lineup.
He’s expected to take Hudler’s place on the second line, playing alongside Sam Bennett and Markus Granlund, which is pretty awesome news for him, as that’s an all-youngster line expected to do some scoring. One thing noted about Ferland’s usage is he tends to get buried and have more defensive zone starts, which is a touch odd for a second-year player with offensive potential; now, though, he has the chance to play with two highly skilled players in what should be sheltered zone starts.
Top six forward Micheal Ferland appears to be getting a chance, at Hudler’s expense. Which is a shame, because Hudler has been playing much better as of late, but if you’re too sick to go, you’re too sick to go.
(No word yet on who Josh Jooris has to murder in order to get back in the lineup.)
[Edit: Or maybe it’ll be Joe Colborne up on the second line instead, because reasons.]
As for the net situation, this is huge news. Hiller missed yesterday’s practice, as well as today’s morning skate, with the flu. Apparently he’s not too sick to go, though, because the net is his for the ninth time this season; first time since Nov. 28 against the San Jose Sharks (a 5-2 loss); and second time since Oct. 28 against the Ottawa Senators, in which he was injured before the game finished.
This is huge for Hiller, needless to say. He’s been effectively shut out of the net with Bob Hartley choosing to run Ramo for almost an entire month – and then some – straight. A good performance from him tonight could mean him getting more reps, Ramo getting more rest, and, best case scenario, a return to the league-average goaltending duo the Flames had in 2014-15.
… And if he has a bad game, I guess it can be blamed on his sickness, unless he sucked all of it out of him and put it all in Hudler. Or Ramo, for that matter.
Weird, but exciting times for the lineup against the Buffalo Sabres tonight, friends.
Update, just over a minute into the game:
#Flames G Karri Ramo is in locker-room. Still backup.
— Wes Gilbertson (@SUNGilbertson) December 11, 2015
… Please feel better, Karri, because that sounds awful.