Ramo won't go away
Goaltender Karri Ramo is such a nice guy, that when he said after Tuesday's morning skate that, basically, he is not going to allow Mike Smith to just take the No. 1 job, you knew it wasn't the kind of in-your-face challenge some might make, but just a statement of fact from a confident kid who has tons of talent and perhaps has been a little overlooked since the trade to bring in Smith.
"It's my job to challenge him every night and every game in practice,'' Ramo said. And when I get a chance to play, I have to show my skills.''
Ramo, who gets the start tonight against the Islanders, has played just three games since Feb. 12, but has done well. He is 1-1-1 but has stopped 77 of 82 shots for a .939 save percentage and a 1.63 goals-against average. He was outstanding in Friday's 2-1 overtime loss to the Devils. And it's not like Smith is tearing it up. He is 1-5-0 in six games with a 3.02 goals-against average and an .885 save percentage in six games since coming over from the Stars in the Brad Richards trade.
"Every game is important to me right now,'' Ramo said. "Every time I step onto the ice I have to show what I've learned from the past. It was a good game. I hadn't played for a couple of weeks there.
"It's good for me,'' Ramo said of the competition with Smith. "It's always fun to do things when something is on the line. Every day in this league you have to challenge yourself, and every day you're playing for something. Now we're going to have a bad situation here. We don't have any chance to get to the playoffs. The season is over but we have to start to rebuild here and battle every game. And everybody needs to learn from it, too.''
Pretty cool, huh?
I know he's just 21 and those are the things you have to say. But I believe he really means it. It's the same kind of fight we see in him during games. Like I said, no animosity. It's just the nature of the game. Good luck to him.
Other stuff from this morning: Coach John Tortorella talked about the funks of Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis (two goals in 24 combined games). "They care. They're two great players,'' Tortorella said. "But they're going through major funks at a time we defended very well. If we could have gotten a goal or two from that line, we win half the games we've lost here.'' ... Jussi Jokinen kind of shrugged and pushed out a long breath when asked about playing just 10 minutes against the Blue Jackets. "I'll just try to do whatever I can to help the team win,'' he said. ... Speaking of the Blue Jackets, did you know they shoot off a cannon in the arena when they score. A real cannon, as loud as a real cannon. You know it's coming. Scares the heck out of you every time. ... The "marriage'' as Tortorella called it between center Jeff Halpern and right wing Michel Ouellet is going well. Halpern has three goals, three assists in seven games since coming over from the Stars. Ouellet has three gaols and two assists. But Ouellet was heating up even before Halpern showed up. He has five goals, three assists in his past eight games, and almost had another goal against the Blue Jackets. ... Saw center Chris Gratton, back from Vail, where he had hip surgery, limping around the locker room on crutches. ... Thought defenseman Dan Boyle was entertaining in today's story about how the players should not forget "just how it (stinks) to lose. ... "I just never want to be in this situation again,'' Boyle continued. "Hockey is a major part of our life. It seems to affect just going home at night, and doing things away from the rink is not fun. Hopefully, we go home this summer and come back hungry.''