CALGARY — Karri Ramo kept saying that Friday night's matchup against the Lightning at the Scotiabank Saddledome was just another game.
But the Flames goaltender admitted checking Tampa Bay's roster to see if any of his former teammates remained. And pushed a bit, Ramo finally said yes, he probably would be a bit more pumped when the puck dropped.
"It's been four years since I've seen those guys," Ramo said. "It's nice to play against them."
Ramo, 27, is a much different, and better, goalie than the one Tampa Bay drafted 191st overall in 2004 and traded to the Canadiens in August 2010.
Mostly it is a matter of experience, having played the past four seasons for Omsk of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.
But Ramo, of Finland, also made adjustments. Always athletic, he is much more positionally sound, as opposed to his old habit of overplaying the puck, which carried him away from the goal mouth.
"I'm a lot more calm," said Ramo, 6 feet 2, 206 pounds, who entered Friday 6-6-3 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. "I'm more confident that way."
"He's much more poised," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "He's matured a lot. As a goalie, the maturing process is a very important factor in a career.
"You see him work in practice before, after. It's not surprising what he's bringing for us."
Ramo never quite put it together for the Lightning, for which he was 11-21-10 in 48 games from 2006-09 with a 3.35 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage. He also played 77 games for AHL Springfield and Norfolk.
After Ramo's first season with Omsk, 2009-10, Tampa Bay traded his rights to Montreal for minor-league goalie Cedrick Desjardins.
The Canadiens traded Ramo's rights to Calgary in January 2012, and Ramo signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal in July.
"The game speed is a little bit faster, and it took a couple weeks to get used to guys shooting a little better," Ramo said of his transition to the North American game from the European game, played on the larger Olympic ice.
"It's a little bit more direct to the net than in Russia."
That brings us back to Friday, and Ramo's scan of the Lightning roster, in which he determined only Marty St. Louis, Ryan Malone and Matt Carle remain from his time with the organization.
"The whole organization changed a lot since I was there, so that way it's just another game," Ramo said. "But it is a team where I played before, so it's always nice to face them."