Panthers vs Flames: Three Questions With Matchsticks & Gasoline
Traci Kay traded off some questions with me about tonight's matchup. Read on for some keen insight into the underachieving Calgary Flames.
Kevin Kraczkowski (Litter Box Cats): Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo serve as the 1a and 1b goaltender, yet neither have a save percentage higher than .889. Which do you see taking the next step and giving the Flames' blueliners some piece of mind as a true number one?
Traci Kay (Matchsticks & Gasoline): Karri Ramo was sent down to Stockton recently and returned to Calgary when Jonas Hiller was placed on the IR because of a lower-body injury. At age 29, Ramo seems to be hitting his stride in the last two games with a save percentage of .920.
Insert Joni Ortio here. At the young age of 24, I don't think now is the right time to depend too heavily on the netminder...yet. He's come a long way in experience over the past couple seasons, but I don't think he's quite ready for a backup role.
Once Hiller returns, I personally believe his experience will win the goaltending tandem and he will be the starter for the season with Ramo as backup. Upon Hiller's return, my guess is that Ortio will be sent down to Stockton so he can gain some playing time instead of just sitting on the shelf as the third in line.
LBC: Johnny Gaudreau is averaging over a point per game through this season, and I personally expect him to keep that up. My question, only loosely related to Gaudreau: Do you think that 2014 first round pick Sam Bennett will also be a point per game player in the near future, and if not him, then who?
M&G: There's a lot of talk about Gaudreau's 17 points in 15 games so far this season. Rightfully so. He's a player who shows up during every outing and never quits digging for his next goal.
Sam Bennett, I believe, has the skill and ability to match Johnny's numbers in time. Bennett now has 9 points in 14 games this year and, if he had a stellar handful of games, he could possibly surpass Gaudreau's numbers.
One other player worth mentioning is Sean Monahan. He's had a "rough start" to this season with 10 points in 15 games. Yes, you read that right, that is considered a "rough start" for him. With a newly acquired A on his jersey, I have a feeling that Monahan will be passed the torch in future to become the face of the Flames.
LBC: Unexpectedly to most (but not to me, lol - ask Ari) the Flames not only qualified for the postseason last year, but made it to the second round. What happened to set Calgary back? Is it too late to salvage this season already?
M&G: The Flames were affected by dramatic changes in the lineup early this season (Bouma and Brodie on IR, acquiring Frolik and Hamilton during the off-season). Goaltending has been an issue since last season when Hartley decided to tandem Hiller and Ramo, as well. I think the pressure got to the goalies because they were in constant competition instead of working together with definitive roles. Once a goalie is named "starter" and "backup" I believe their mental games will change and they will both settle comfortably into their positions. The season hasn't even really started yet for the Flames and I believe the best is yet to come.
We here at LBC appreciate Traci's insight and all the great writers over at Matchsticks and Gasoline. Be sure to head over there for Flames coverage. Check back here later for today's Caterwaul, GameThread and anything else that may come up between now and the puck drop, at 7:30 PM.