Ramo shines during scrimmage
If you consider that, as coach John Tortorella said, every time the players step on the ice, they will be judged, then even the first scrimmage of the season is important. Doesn't matter if the ice is bad or players still have to get their timing down. That is why Karri Ramo was so noteworthy during the scrimmage that was two 20-minute periods of running time.
Ramo stopped all 16 shots he faced in 20 minutes of work. But it was the way he did it that I thought was so impressive. Ramo, at 6-2, 192 pounds, fills the net, but he does so unflinchingly as the action swirls around him. He did not give an inch on two breakaways and, by gosh, he believes he should be in the NHL.
I'm not going to rehash tomorrow's story on Ramo, in which he tells an interesting story of growing up in Finland and some hard times that fueled his confidence. My question, though, is about the prospect of having Ramo actually win a job and be one of the Lightning's two goaltenders. He has just 70 minutes of NHL experience. He was an AHL All-Star last season and the consensus is he will be a good NHL goalie, someday. But now? Considering the other two goalies, Marc Denis and Johan Holmqvist, didn't exactly set the world on fire last season, I wonder if the team can afford to use a spot for an untested rookie?
Ramo said he is a better goalie than when he was with the team last season. He would have to be with another pro season under his belt, and he just seems so unflappable. There are three more scrimmages and five preseason games. It will be interesting to see where it all shakes out.
Other observations from the scrimmage that ended 1-1 with goals by Vinny Lecavalier and Kyle Wanvig:
Though its timing was a bit off, the line of Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Vinny Prospal skated well. ... It is way too early to make any conclusions about the line of Brad Richards, Jan Hlavac and Michel Ouellet. ... It was good to see Ryan Craig battling from his knees. ... Andreas Karlsson was a beast. Okay, a slight exaggeration. But the left wing, trying to win a third-line spot, blocked at least two shots and checked Nick Tarnasky to the ice. Coach John Tortorella, who was grumpy after the scrimmage because he said he didn't like anything, praised Karlsson. "One of the few guys who were blocking shots. One of the few guys with some sort of physicality to himself within the scrimmage, and he will get rewarded for that.'' ... Good crowd at the Ice Sports Forum of an estimated 500, which I believe. ... Tortorella was upset enough at the lack of shot blocking that he put the team through a shot-blocking drill after the scrimmage. Who was best? Karlsson. "You've got to do what it takes to make the team,'' he said.
Most interesting moment: Defenseman Jay Leach challenged fellow defenseman Shane O'Brien to fight. Leach is trying to make the team and knows O'Brien is a tough kid. But O'Brien refused, even after Leach dropped his gloves and grabbed O'Brien's jersey."I guess he was trying to make a name for himself, but I got no reason to fight in an intra-squad, much less an exhibition,'' O'Brien said. "He's trying to make the team. I'm just not going to fight in an intra-squad.'' The guys talked it over between periods and Leach said he apologized for misreading that O'Brien would want to fight. More on that, tomorrow, too.