The Calgary Flames won their seventh game in a row, sixth game in regulation, and third game by more than one goal.
Also, they’re now officially in a playoff spot. So that’s pretty cool!
Karri Ramo, NHL goaltender
It wasn’t that long ago the Flames waived Karri Ramo to solve their three goalie problem. It wasn’t that long until he was called back up, either, due to a Jonas Hiller injury. And he’s started almost every single game since then, save for a couple of back-to-back or flu-related instances.
Ramo was the reason the Flames won last night, though. The only goal he gave up was the result of a shorthanded break; otherwise, he stopped 35 of 36 shots for a pretty nifty .972 save percentage. His team entered the third period with a two-goal lead, and only kept that two-goal lead thanks to the play of their goalie – because the Flames gave up 17 shots in that period alone, and were out-corsied 40-10.
There’s score effects, and then there’s not knowing how to play with a lead. Ramo was the only guy who knew how to play with a lead, apparently.
Jamie Benn was a monster on the ice. Ales Hemsky led the way with five shots on net and a 92.00% ES CF. And the only guys who dented Ramo’s numbers were Johnny Oduya and Vernon Fiddler.
This was Ramo’s third straight game with at least a .900 save percentage; better yet, three straight with at least a .939 save percentage.
In October, Ramo carried a .868 save percentage. In November, he rose to .909. So far, in December, he has a .918.
At least for now, Ramo is the undisputed Flames starter, and boy, did he have to earn it. But he did. Now he’s just gotta keep it up, especially if that third period was the Flames’ idea of how to play with a lead.
Ramo has really been channeling his inner Kiprusoff lately. pic.twitter.com/pBIT7aChR3
— Christian Roatis (@CRoatis) December 18, 2015
Hope for the power play?
The power play in the first period was… so bad. It was so bad. They were outgunned, giving up that shorthanded goal; for the way they played, they might as well have been outmanned and outnumbered, and they were definitely outplanned. One shot over two power plays wasn’t a good look for the new-look units.
But then that second period power play happened, and while the Flames didn’t score, they generated nine shots. Nine shots on net over a two minute period is unheard of for this team, let alone when they actually have the man advantage. It was a shame they didn’t score, because if they have more power plays that look like that, then their percentage will probably climb above the league-worst 10.8% it currently sits at.
Player usage was weird, though. Johnny Gaudreau led the way playing 3:40, but his linemates were Joe Colborne and Mason Raymond, who played 3:37 and 3:28 apiece. Considering how the power play really looked like it was going when Sean Monahan (2:27) and Sam Bennett (2:18) were on the ice, you have to wonder if they just needed a little Gaudreau to put it in.
On defence, meanwhile, things were spread around pretty evenly amongst five guys: Mark Giordano (3:24), T.J. Brodie (2:51), Dennis Wideman (2:10), Kris Russell (1:52), and Dougie Hamilton (1:43). Loved, loved, loved seeing Giordano and Brodie kept together on the power play; and really, it only makes sense: if they’re your top two defencemen, doesn’t it make more sense to keep them together?
And while Wideman’s game lends itself to power play usage, honestly, between the five of those players, at least based on how things looked last night – and maybe even due to the fact the power play has been so bad, and Wideman is the most-used defenceman on it – he’s the one I wouldn’t want on it anymore. Because guess which defenceman wasn’t out there for the nine-shot, competent-looking power play?
Weird ice times
I don’t think this is going to be indicative of usage for any future games, but man, some Flames were deployed way more than you thought they would or should have been last night.
Brodie (28:54) and Girodano (27:22) led the way, with Russell (25:07) following up, but then the next most-played defenceman was Hamilton (17:19). That big a difference between your third and fourth defencemen, even when accounting for special teams time, is just odd.
Then, there were the forwards. Gaudreau (18:31) led the way, but following him up wasn’t Monahan or Jiri Hudler or anyone like that – instead, it was Colborne (18:13) and Matt Stajan (18:08). (Okay, so Monahan ended up right behind with 17:34, but for Stajan to play that much more than him – who would have expected that?)
Just weird. You could make the argument that it worked, because the Flames won; at the same time, you could make the argument that it didn’t, because Ramo was the only one who looked impressive as the game went on.
From the pressbox to the first line
The last time Josh Jooris played a game, it was Nov. 28. He sat for six games straight. He only got into the lineup because Michael Frolik was injured and unable to play.
And then he spent more than six minutes with Gaudreau and Monahan, his most common linemates of the night. And they actually played better with him: 44.44% ES CF with, as opposed to 20-24% without.
Jooris had a clean statline over his 14:04 of ice time. No shots on net, one takeaway, and 2:50 played on a penalty kill that didn’t give up any goals – the most-used forward. He had a -2 corsi differential when shorthanded, which is pretty impressive considering how much time he spent on the kill. Jooris is a pretty good penalty killer, though, so it’s good to see him out there.
As one last side note – you know who led the Flames with shots on net? Micheal Ferland. He had five. And he was flying. He jumped up to 13:29 in ice time, so hopefully, this marks the return of his getting a regular shift – because he deserves one, especially if he can keep that up (and there’s no reason to think he can’t).