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Where do they go from here?

Ramo is done for the season and Hiller doesn't appear to be the answer, so what are the Flames to do?

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
That right there is the worst news in a day full of bad news for the Flames. Kris Russell is day to day. Dennis Wideman is getting the full 20, for now. Ladislav Smid left Wednesday night's game with an injury. But the news of Karri Ramo tearing his ACL and being done for the season, takes the cake.

Let's not confuse what I am saying here. Ramo isn't Grant Fuhr or Mike Vernon or Ed Belfour or Dominic Hasek. But he is the Flames best goal tender. At the beginning of the season I wrote that "that's like being the best looking person in the ugly person contest" and I am a self confessed "Ramo Guy." Ramo had a terrible start to the season and he looked like he lost the form that carried the Flames through the playoffs. However, once Bob Hartley settled in and gave Ramo the lion's share of the goal tending duties, Karri became the true #1 keeper the Flames needed.

He's not perfect. He does let in the occasional early, soft goal, but more often than not HE'S the one keeping the Flames in games. His record for this season will top out at 17-18-1 with a GAA of 2.63 and a Save % of .909. Again, you look at the numbers and you are allowed to say to yourself "Are those really #1 goaltender numbers?" And your answer should be "yes" when you look at the season as a whole.

In 8 of Karri Ramo's 18 losses the scores have looked like this: 2-1, (OT), 1-0, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 3-2, 4-2. So in 8 games where Ramo has given the Flames a "quality" game in net, they've scored him 8 goals and been shutout once in that stretch. So basically, Karri Ramo had to be near perfect for the Flames to win because the offense wasn't going to help him at all. Now, there have been some clunkers on his part as well. The Capitals put 4 passed him in 6-2 loss where he gave up 4 goals on 18 shots and didn't finish the game. That's on Ramo, but stats can be deceiving as well. Take Ramo's 5-1 loss to Vancouver, his 6-3 loss to Colorado (gave up 5) and his 4-1 loss to Chicago (gave up 3). On the surface those all look like the fault of the goalie. Two 5 goal games are hard to justify as being anyone else's fault, until you look at the numbers.  In the 5-1 loss to Vancouver, Ramo faced 44 shots. In the 6-3 loss to Colorado he faced 41 shots. And in the 4-1 loss to Chicago, he faced 40 shots. When your goalie makes 39, 35 and 36 saves in a game, you should be in a position to win. But when those saves come on top of 44, 41, and 40 total shots, things get complicated. Especially when the Flames scored 5 goals total in those games.

While Karri Ramo does have his quirks, he is the best chance for the Flames to win. That is now out the window. Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio are now the two headed monster for the Flames, but it appears Bob Hartley is willing to roll with Hiller for now. I'm not sure that's the best decision for the season, but I'm not at practice and I'm not a coach. My eyes tell me betting on Hiller to get the job done is a dicey proposition. And if management has watched Hiller the last 2 starts and still think he's a better option than Joni Ortio, that should tell you what they think of him.

This off season Karri Ramo signed a one year deal worth $2.75 million and is an UFA at the end of the season. Jonas Hiller currently makes $4.5 million and is an UFA at the end of the season. Joni Ortio is in the last year of a 2 year contract that pays him $600,000 a season and is a RFA at the end of the season. So where does this leave the Flames? For now, like it or not, it's Hiller and Ortio most likely until the end of the season. James Reimer's name keeps coming up with the Flames, but is he really worth dealing for? The young keeper makes $2 million this season and is a UFA at the end of the year. He's currently 11-11-6, with a Save % of .920 and a GAA of 2.45. His numbers are decent and his salary is less than both Ramo and Hiller, but is he the answer and what does a still rebuilding Flames team have to give up to get him? All things considered, I say he's not.

The Flames should stand pat where they currently are, for better or for worse. The Flames should ride the duo of Hiller and Ortio until the end of the season and address the keeper position this summer. The Flames are free falling and most likely are not heading to the playoffs this season. Ortio should get a serious look to see if he's the goalie who reeled of 5 straight last season or the guy who didn't help clear up the goal tending situation earlier this year. It's time to find out what they do or do not have. Jon Gillies is rehabbing and apparently doing well. It makes sense to think the Flames look at him as the future in net, but is he ready to make the jump to the NHL? Connor Hellebuyck made the jump to Winnipeg this season as a young keeper and has played well, so the idea of a healthy Gillies getting the call isn't outlandish. It may be time for the Flames to make sure Gillies is healthy and give him the keys to the team. The only problem is your current starter, in Ramo, is out 6-8 months. Your other two goalies are up at the end of the season and is there really anything worth trading for? Pre-injury I would have suggested trying to deal Hiller and let Ortio walk. Then sign Ramo as a place keeper and let Gillies take the back seat until he was ready. But as in real life, bumps come along the way and complicate everything more than it needs to be. These are the days I'm glad I'm just a fan and the only decision I have to make is what jersey to buy next.

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