Flames Today: 03.02.14
Joni Ortio had to be patient. Now he may get his chance.
The Calgary Flames recalled the 22-year-old from the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL on Monday in the wake of an injury that will keep fellow Finnish goaltender Karri Ramo out until the end of the Olympic break.
“Ready, I think I’ve felt ready for quite some time,” Ortio said after his first skate with the Flames. “I’ve been playing well. Guys have been playing well down in Abby and that’s been helping me a lot. That’s making my job that much easier. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m ready if I get the call.”
Ortio, who is 19-5-0 with a 2.08 goals against average and .930 save percentage with the Heat this season, got the call on Sunday and could make his National Hockey League debut with the Flames wrapping up their pre-Olympic schedule on the road for a three-game set.
Still, a start isn’t something that’s been discussed.
“We’ll see,” coach Bob Hartley said. “He’s played very well in Abbotsford. I talked to (Heat coach) Troy (Ward), Craig Conroy goes and sees them play lots of time. The reports on Joni are very good. Reto (Berra) gets the start in Montreal. He came in big for us last game. We have three games left. We’re in the business of playing the ones who perform.”
The Flames have, however, used both goalies in three of five straight wins at Scotiabank Saddledome, including Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild. Ramo started the game but gave way to Berra late in the first period after injuring his MCL.
“Right now, it seems like every game we play, the two goalies, they get in,” Hartley said. “It wouldn’t (take) much, looking at the trend that we’re in. We called him up and we have full confidence in him. He played great in exhibition games.
“We’ll see how it goes.”
After recording four goals and six points in three games, Mikael Backlund has been named the NHL’s Third Star of the week.
“I’m happy about it,” Backlund said. “It’s nice to get it. It’s pretty big. I’ve always wanted to get a reward like that. It’s cool, it’s a personal goal. It’s nice to see it.”
Backlund’s three multi-point games helped the Flames close out their first 5-0-0 homestand since Feb. 7-15, 1997.
He started the week with two goals, including one shorthanded marker, in Calgary’s 5-4 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. He followed up the performance will two assists in Thursday’s 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. He wrapped up the week with two goals -- including the overtime winner -- over the Wild on Saturday.
In 54 games, the Vasteras, Sweden native has 13 goals and 27 points -- both career highs.
RUSSELL COULD GO
After missing Saturday’s win over the Wild, Kris Russell is expected to return to action Tuesday against the Canadiens.
“I didn’t talk to Kris yet but he did all practice, he was shooting well, he was doing everything good,” Hartley said. “I’m going to look for my medical staff later on and probably [Tuesday] morning we’re going to make a final decision. Since he did all the contact drills and everything, he felt great, he was skating good, I’m hoping that he’s in the lineup [Tuesday].”
Russell missed 13 games from Dec. 23-Jan. 18 with a knee injury.
In 41 games, the 26-year-old has four goals and 19 points.
“I was pretty good from the get-go. I was here two years ago so I kind of knew what to expect. This is so much more comfortable coming in. I knew what was going to go on. There’s not anything new to me coming into training camp and going down to Abby. That was just so much easier to get adjusted again and just focused on playing hockey.”
The Flames kick off the first of three games before the Olympic break on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens (5:30 p.m. MST, RDS, SNET-W, Sportsnet 960 The Fan)