A star is born?
In his first NHL start, Karri Ramo stopped 31 of 32 shots faced for the win.
Fate played the cruel trick of scheduling my girlfriend's company's holiday party on this night, of all nights. Three years I've been covering this kid since all the way back when the only people keeping an eye on him were Karri Kettunen and the couple dozen people showing up to Lahti Pelicans Junior A games, and I have to Tivo his first NHL start? What the heck?
By Ramo standards, believe it or not, I thought he played a pretty mediocre game. He struggled with his rebound control and as far as his positioning goes I thought he played a little deep in the net and overplayed to one side on occassion. Those areas will need to improve, and my expectation is that they will.
Bottom line though, he stopped pucks. Just stop pucks. The Lightning don't need the second coming of Patrick Roy (yet). They just need someone steady who isn't going to spot the opposition cheap goals and isn't going to panic and allow one goal to snowball into giving up three or four goals in a period. He did that tonight and as long as he continues to do that, I'm willing to bet Torts will keep starting him.
Kudos to the Lightning for playing a pretty good game defensively in front of Ramo too, defensemen and forwards alike. They knew they had a rookie in net and they knew they needed to step up and hustle for the new guy. They didn't play a perfect game defensively, but when they made mistakes they generally busted their humps to rectify the situation. I don't recall any clear cut odd man rushes tonight and there weren't any breakaways, and that's how you break a rookie in. They played hard for Karri, and Karri rewarded them by making 2 goals stand up for a win.
Of course, then again, there were those final 7 minutes when suddenly it seemed like several Lightning players were suddenly brain dead (Shane O'Brien I'm looking at you) and where easy clears became unforced turnovers and harrowing moments in the Lightning zone. Scary stuff, which I suppose made Lecavalier putting the finishing touch on the 2-on-1 to win it that much more cathartic.
Mathieu Darche played 15:04 with 3 shots and 3 hits.
Mike Lundin played 15:01 and was +1 with 1 assist, 1 shot, 2 blocked shots and, as rare as a Loch Nest Monster sighting, 1 hit. Of course he also got his world absolutely rocked on a hit in the first period.
Jay Leach played 6:26 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in his third career NHL game. Atta boy Jay.
Blair Jones got a whopping 3 shifts and 50 seconds of ice time. In what little he's played so far, I think he's looked good on the forecheck but he's getting absolutely owned in the faceoff circles.
Anton But was scoreless in St. Petersburg's 3-1 loss to Togliatti.
Alexei Glukhov had a goal in Cherepovets' 3-1 win over Khabarovsk.
Denis Kazionov was scoreless in Omsk's 3-1 loss to CSKA.
Albert Vishnyakov did not play in Spartak's 2-1 win over Novgorod.
Captain Obvious says: "You can't win if you can't score."
Jonathan Boutin allowed 3 goals on 27 shots in the loss.
BRI Walter, (9) , 0:53
BRI Tambellini, (12) (Fraser, Kohn), 2:31 (SH)
BRI Fraser, (4) (Tambellini, Nielsen), 14:47
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled goaltender Karri Ramo and defenseman Jay Leach from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced. Leach has been recalled on an emergency basis.
Ryan Munce was spectacular Sunday in a 39 save shutout of the Pensacola Ice Pilots earning *First Star* honors and securing a split for the Wolves in the two-game weekend road trip down I-10 to Pensacola. Mississippi won Sunday's match by a score of 1-0 after dropping a heartbreak OT loss to the Pilots Friday night 4-3. Mississippi's 1st goal Friday night was a tally banged home by Norfolk fav Brett Angel after a Stan Lascek wrap-around attempt.
Call up Ramo. It's time. Hell, it's past time.
Johan Holmqvist allowed 3 goals on 9 shots for the loss before giving way to Marc Denis who allowed 3 goals on 15 shots the rest of the way.
Look, I understand there was a business decision that had to be made at the start of this season that precluded Karri Ramo making this team over Marc Denis. However, this team is collapsing under the weight of putrid goaltending and the resulting lack in confidence and morale that comes from it. This team is playing joyless hockey. There is no swagger, and the reason is simple: this team has to work hard right now to generate scoring chances and score goals and nothing saps a team of its juice more quickly than pouring on the effort to generate 4 or 5 good scoring chances only to have the other team come down on a relatively harmless play and pop in a soft goal. That happened tonight, and it's been happening all season and now it's finally coming to a head.
12/10: Lightning-1 at Leafs-6
Holmqvist 4/22 (L)
12/13: Flames-9 at Lightning-6
Denis 4/25 (L)
12/18: Lightning-2 at Thrashers-6
Holmqvist 3/9 (L)
That isn't in the span of a season, or even in the span of a month. That's in the span of 8 days, and you can spread some blame around to the defense and to turnovers by the forwards, but ultimately common sense says you have to look at your goaltending when you allow 6 or more goals in 3 of the last 4 games. It wouldn't be so bad if teams were simply abusing Holmer high glove side like has been prone to happen over the last couple of seasons. It wouldn't be so bad if teams were simply abusing Denis and his slow feet by making plays moving the puck east to west for one time shots. Those are goals that the defense can at least do something to try to prevent. No, what you saw tonight on the Recchi and Thorburn goals where pucks going through Holmer and Denis, and those are the kind of goals that are inexcusable on this level of hockey.
Now, rather than trading anything that's not nailed down there is a simple move that ought to be made immediately to try and staunch the bleeding. You see, there are folks like me (and I suspect at least one or two people in the organization too) who honestly believe the best goaltender in the organization is playing in Norfolk. Call up Karri Ramo. Call him up because he won't allow pucks to go through him. Call him up because his unflappable swagger might just be contagious. Call him up and see what happens when the team realizes they aren't entering every game spotting the other side (at least) one goal. Call him up because at this stage of the game you just don't have a choice.
October was the time for business decisions. Fine. It's December, the team is 3 games under .500 and tied for second to last in the conference. Now is the time for a hockey decision. Business be damned.
Call. Up. Ramo.
Box score from NHL.com.
The Seattle Thunderbirds have confirmed goaltender and Lightning prospect Riku Helenius has been named to the Finnish World Junior team that will take part in the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic, from December 26 to January 5.
"We are very happy for Riku that he has been selected to play for Team Finland," said T-Birds General Manager Russ Farwell. "He has established himself as a top goalie in our league and we expect him to be a key member of Team Finland."
Helenius left December 10 for the Team Finland World Junior Evaluation Camp. He is now with the Finnish team as they prepare for the tournament. He has an 8-7-5-0 record with the T-Birds this season and a goals against average of 2.61, a save percentage of .911, and one shutout.
Helenius, who will be the only Lightning draftee at this year's WJCs, was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, 15th overall, of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
What gives HF? Seriously.
Look, we're long past the point of expecting anything resembling objectivity considering one of your top writers was once quoted as claiming Blair Jones was "trash" because he was a 4th round pick, but can you guys at least acknowledge that Mike Lundin (another 4th round pick, so I guess that makes him "trash" too) has made the NHL? Is that really too much to ask?