Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports
Karri Ramo really should have gotten his second shutout of the season in a row. He had just 1:39 to go until he’d have had it, which would have repeated a feat he did back in Nov. 2013, when he shut out the Sharks and Coyotes in back-to-back games.
But unfortunately, it didn’t happen. After thoroughly dominating the Lightning and restricting their chances over the course of 50 minutes of game play (with the occasional exception here and there), Tampa Bay turned it on in the game’s final 10 minutes, and ended up getting a goal out of it to cut the Flames’ lead to one.
It definitely wasn’t a garbage goal by any means. But Ramo thoroughly shut them out before it was scored, preserving the Flames’ then-one goal lead until they were able to double it late in the second. That doesn’t go unnoticed, and his 30 stops throughout the night were a big part of the Flames getting above .500.
But more on Ramo
So in October, Ramo had a save percentage of .868. In November, it went up to .909, and in December, it further increased to .919.
Now, in January, it’s up to .984! Wow, what growth. February is going to be amazing.
Okay, not really. But there’s undeniable improvement over the course of Ramo’s season thus far. He’s now up to a .913 save percentage, which is actually a career high for him at this point.
Last season, Ramo played 33 games and had a save percentage of .912; this season, he has now played 28 games – nearly matching that total – and is that one percentage point above his previous high.
Now, Ramo’s previous career high in games played in a season was the year before, when he played 40 in 2013-14. He had a .911 save percentage that year, and that’s including another disastrous October and November, when he had save percentages below .900.
That was back when Ramo was making his return to the NHL. This season, it was the three-goalie situation that hampered things. But in 2014-15, when he had a .912 save percentage, there wasn’t really anything specific to hold him back – that’s just who he was.
This might just be who Ramo is. Not anybody amazing, just a goalie who can play at this level, but likely won’t be the difference maker most of the time. And for where the Flames are at this point in their rebuild, that’s okay – but he won’t be the answer going forward.
Still, neither the highs nor the lows are as great as they appear at the time.
Brodie + Giordano = Beyond incredible
T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano created the Flames’ first goal, and Giordano created the second. And while they were doing that, they were also constantly on the ice: Brodie for 26:08, and Giordano for 23:26. Even with all that ice time, they were still some of the top Flames in regards to possession: Brodie for 53.85%, and Giordano for 61.22%. (The Flames had exceptional possession stats in the first period, but started to give way to the Lightning as the game went on and the opposition were increasingly desperate to tie it up.)
The most common opponents Brodie and Giordano faced? Steven Stamkos. Anton Stralman. Valtteri Filpulla. Victor Hedman. Tampa’s top guys, and they dominated them, posting above a 50.00+% ES CF when facing against them (except for Brodie against Hedman, where he was 46.15%). (And even higher when away from them, but hey, we’re talking about 11-14 minutes facing these guys.) And aside from one goal really late in the game that came at the end of a 12-corsi for event stretch over seven minutes, they were perfect against them.
This was a banner game for the two of them, and a reminder of just why one can argue they are the top defence pairing in the NHL. There were times throughout the game where it felt the Flames only needed Brodie and Giordano to have success, the goalie and forwards need not apply.
The obligatory Joe Colborne section
We’re apparently going to have to talk about Joe Colborne for as long as he is a Flame, so let’s do that. Let’s talk about the guy who led the Flames in forward ice time for the second game in a row, this time with 18:14 spent on the ice (and 1:14 on the power play, can’t forget about the productive power play minutes!).
… I’m not entirely sure what he did with that ice time. I remember Johnny Gaudreau creating plays, I remember Sean Monahan getting scoring chances, but I can’t quite remember what Colborne contributed to his line.
The numbers supported the eye test, as even though Colborne spent 15:43 with Monahan and 17:11 with Gaudreau, he only had two individual corsi events for all game: this compared to Gaudreau’s six and Monahan’s seven.
This was Colborne’s second game in a row on a line with Monahan and Gaudreau; in the first game, Gaudreau had four indidivual corsi events for, Colborne one, and Monahan zero. So it’s not as if this is a be-all, end-all consistent stat.
But so far, Colborne is looking like, at absolute best, a complete passenger, and that’s without including the lapses in play or questionable giveaways he tends to be prone to. So I really don’t get the insistence of continuing to use him on the top line. I would understand the argument if it stopped at “the Flames have nobody else” (and with Michael Frolik out, they really do have few options), but we don’t know what they have. We don’t know what Micheal Ferland’s ceiling actually is. We do know Josh Jooris was able to handle second line centre duties for an extended period of time the season before.
And yet, for whatever reason, things keep falling back to Colborne, even though there has been literally nothing in his game to suggest he’s capable of that role. He has the tools to theoretically be up there, but he doesn’t have the box to put them in, and so we end up with what’s looking like a neutered top line while the lines below end up buzzing.
At least the rest of the lines can play, though, and all four can be rolled throughout a game. And in a tight game like this one where the Flames had to preserve their lead, that was important.
But man, the Flames really, really need a top flight right winger again. And it’s not Colborne.