NHL Game Night 12/18: Lightning at Thrashers
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.