I think cautious optimism best sums up my mood when it was announced the Flames had signed Jonas Hiller to a two-year contract. After not having an obvious number one goaltender for 2013-14, anything was an upgrade, and while Hiller was known for his "moments", I felt happier having him on board, as opposed to not having him.
As it turned out, occasional moments of "Hilleristic" behaviour aside, he has proven to be an astute pick up, as he has stolen games on his own and proved himself worthy of the starter's jersey. Here's what we've had to say about the Swiss goalie:
After a season full of questionable goaltending and uncertain starters, Jonas Hiller was a breath of fresh air. It’s weird to go from a team where you always know who’s starting in net (Miikka Kiprusoff) to one without an established starter. Hiller was signed, Hiller stepped in, and Hiller filled that hole.
He occasionally stole games the Flames had no business being in. He also sometimes gave up incredibly weak goals that cost them. But the main takeaway from his performance over the season was he was consistent, reliable, and gave this rebuilding team the much-needed stability it needed in net to give the rest of them confidence and belief that they could win. After a month of alternating, he took over as the team’s starter for a reason, and while he couldn’t always hold on to it, he brought the Flames up from league-worst to league average. Hiller was the best goaltender the Flames had in this surprising season.
Mike FAIL (B):
♫ "My name is Jonas, I’m playing in goal"
Thanks for all you’ve shown us, let me tell you how I feel
A goalie on a team, with some poor Corsi
Signed here to be played
When we couldn’t find a starter
You made things better again
You’re better than some men
Let me tell you ‘bout ‘em ♫
Stability in net is what we needed, and we got some of it from Hiller. Well, most of the time. He and Ramo did share the crease for periods of time but Hiller eventually took over. He left in some goofy goals from time to time though. Outside of Ortio’s small stint, Hiller was the better goalie in regular SV%, medium-danger SV%, and high-danger SV%. It makes sense Hartley stuck with him more so than Ramo.
Hiller came in for the Flames this season on a steal of a deal because
he’s a right handed freakhe didn’t have the same fanfare as a few of the other goalies. He came in and performed well in the starting role. His save percentage is a bit fake due to the Flames receiving far more power plays than they gave up, but he’s still a decent starter at a bargain price. He’s performed better than Ramo overall, but Ramo came out the starter by the end of the playoffs. The question now becomes whether they stick with Hiller or re-sign Ramo and trade him away. The former would yield better results for the immediate future.
Having a proven starter in goal was a luxury for the Flames. Allowing a weak, early goal was unsettling, but Hiller would usually bounce back. He was able to stand on his head when the team really needed him. There’s not much more I can say about Jonas - I wish he would have gotten another shot against Anaheim in the playoffs, but c’est la vie.
Even though he seemingly always allowed an early, easy goal, Hiller carried the team in times when they could’ve easily fallen out of games. Like the team in front of him, he tends to start off slow in the first and finish hot in the third. Also like the team in front of him, we hope that isn’t an issue for next year.
Steady and solid, with the occasional moment of mental flatulence. He has done all that has been asked of him, and he earned wins on his own on several occasions. Plus he’s an established starting goaltender, so there’s that. I’m impressed.
It’s no secret that the Calgary Flames were often bailed out by their goalies. Whether the team was clinging to a lead or mounting a third period comeback, these wins would not have been possible if it weren’t for some of Jonas Hiller’s incredible game-saving stops. For a young team finding their way (and somehow finding their way into the second round of the playoffs), Hiller’s poise on the backend was indispensable.
As you can see, a fairly uniform B across the board there. The best way to describe Hiller is to say, simply, he is Jonas Hiller. He's a great goalie with moments of madness thrown in.
The question now, is with Joni Ortio stepping up, Karri Ramo open to a return, and Jon Gillies coming up on the horizon, just exactly what happens to him, both this summer and next?