The Calgary Flames took to the practice ice on Sunday afternoon to begin preparations for their game on Monday night with the San Jose Sharks. The skate saw a few regulars absent for maintenance reasons, but head coach Bill Peters confirmed his starting netminder for that game.
Maintenance days for Backlund, Neal, and Hamonic today.
Rittich starts in net tomorrow. #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) December 30, 2018
David Rittich makes his 20th start of the season and ninth in December. He’s started six of the Flames’ last seven games and while the coaching staff isn’t about to make any pronouncements that he’s their top dog, how he’s being used definitely points in that direction.
Rittich is 12-4-3 with a 2.26 goals against average, 0.924 save percentage and 0.938 even strength save percentage. Among regular NHL goaltenders, he’s fourth in goals against average, fifth in save percentage and third in even strength save percentage. It makes sense to use him as much as they can.
Heading into a big game with the Sharks with big divisional implications, Peters stated his confidence that the directness that the penalty kill is playing with – in terms of making low-risk plays that result in scoring chances (and goals), such as Travis Hamonic’s shorthanded marker – will bleed into their even strength work.
I think it will. The two-on-one with [Hamonic] is a great decision – two-on-one, he shot the puck. We had two-on-ones in overtime, never shot the puck, right? Never ended up with a shot on net – really, in essence, for me. We need to simplify, especially a defenseman in on a two-on-one on a penalty kill, great decision. And he gets rewarded. If you do the right things, you’re going to get rewarded.