Jonas Hiller (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
In last night’s 5-4 shootout loss to Ottawa, Calgary Flames No. 1 goaltender Jonas Hiller went down with a lower-body injury when the Senators’ Bobby Ryan came crashing into the net. Calgary coach Bob Hartley said the Flames don’t yet know the extent of the injury.
The Calgary Flames have only won twice in their first 10 outings, and things might not get any easier as netminder Jonas Hiller could be sidelined with a lower-body injury suffered in Wednesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.
Hiller’s injury occurred with less than eight minutes remaining in the third frame of a 4-4 game. Ottawa's Bobby Ryan, who was driving toward’s the Calgary net, collided with Hiller after he was pushed into the crease by a backchecking Michal Frolik.
When Frolik bumped Ryan, the Senators right winger was flung headfirst into the net and it appeared his legs caught the post on impact. For Hiller, his legs were caught behind him and pushed into the netting immediately following the collision:
Ryan was assessed a goaltender interference penalty on the play, and was none too pleased about the call. Following the game, he told reporters that he, “won’t comment too much other than it was an horrendous call."
Once Hiller was out of the contest, backup Joni Ortio came in to close out the game for Calgary and turned away all five of the shots he faced in 12 minutes of action. The Flames would go on to lose the contest in a shootout, but Ortio drew praise from coach Bob Hartley.
“He was under control,” Hartley said after the loss. “He got beat by some great shots in the shootout."
Hartley didn’t have much in the way of an update on Hiller post-game, but said the netminder suffered a lower-body injury and would be evaluated Thursday. The Flames could have a better understanding of the extent of the ailment at some point today. Hiller has a short history of lower-body injuries, but nothing that has kept him out long-term.
Early this season Hiller had been embroiled in a goaltending battle for the No. 1 spot in the Calgary net with Karri Ramo, but Hiller emerged the victor with Ramo landing himself in the AHL after clearing waivers. However, if Hiller is out for long, Ramo, who signed a one-year, $3.8-million deal in the off-season, will be on his way back to Calgary.
While Ramo has been serviceable as a backup and was playing on-par with Hiller at the end of the 2014-15 campaign, there’s no denying he’s not as qualified for the starter’s role as Hiller. If Hiller is out for an extended period, Ortio may split time with Ramo instead of Ramo taking the bulk of the starts. In three games this season, Ramo has a 4.38 goals-against average and .879 save percentage and has only seen six shots in relief action while with the AHL’s Stockton Heat.
Whoever suits up between the pipes, though, the Flames need more from their goaltenders. With the first month of the season drawing to a close, no team has a worse 5-on-5 SP than the Flames. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets (.880) and Boston Bruins (.892) have more favorable marks than Calgary’s abysmal .870 SP. That Hiller’s 3.67 GAA and .861 SP were enough to earn him the starting gig speaks volumes about the state of goaltending for the Flames through 10 games this season.