Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
We've talked a lot recently about how the Calgary Flames had a more favorable schedule than their conference rivals down the stretch, soemthing that could perhaps be an edge in making the playoffs. But if there's one thing you always learn at this time of year, it's that there's no such thing as an easy game on the docket.
The Flames lost 4-3 in a shootout to the visiting Stars on Wednesday, and combined with last Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to visiting Columbus, you wonder how much they might pay or not for those two lost points in the standings. Those were two very winnable games on paper, but Calgary got just two of four points.
The Flames are one point up on the Kings, but that's a razor-thing edge. The Stars, meanwhile, continue their desperate, late-season push. They're now at 82 points, six points behind Winnipeg for the final wild-card spot. Too little, too late I think, but stranger things have happened.
As for the Flames, they play six of their final eight games on the road, starting Friday at Minnesota. Suddenly that favorable schedule from two weeks ago doesn't look so good.
read on for more hockey topic from the ESPN staff...
from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald,
Ever wonder what National Hockey League general managers discuss when they get together and stand around the water cooler?
More or less, it’s similar to the banter usually taking place around any office water cooler — last night’s game, the NHL playoff race, and hotshot players.
So when first-year GM Brad Treliving sauntered up and started talking casually at the three-day long NHL general manager get-together in Boca Raton, Fla., he was pleased to hear the league-wide impression of the Calgary Flames.
“It’s nice,” Treliving was saying over the phone Friday, a few days after things wrapped up. “Guys were really complimentary of where the team is at and how they compete on a nightly basis. People were saying it’s a tough outing, Calgary is a tough (opponent). Those things are nice to hear. So, we’re starting to establish an identity as a team.”...
“Our goal in the next two and a half or three weeks is to get into the playoffs,” Treliving said. “You spend a lot of time with (the other GM’s at the meetings) and you talk not only on the agenda items, but everyone is talking about their situation and you’re talking to other teams about their situations.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Hartley divides the NHL schedule into seven-game segments to mimic a traditional playoff series – a tactic he believes keeps the team’s focus on achievable, short-term goals.
So, for example, early in his press briefing Monday, Hartley reminded reporters that Tuesday’s date with the visiting St. Louis Blues marked the end of the Flames’ 10th seven-game series of the year. The Flames are a remarkable 7-1-1 in the first nine, which is why they are where they are – third in the Pacific Division, on pace for 96 points with a chance to qualify for the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2009.
According to Hartley, the value of breaking the season down into bite-sized segments was greater during the dog days, because it helped keep the focus on the smaller, day-to-day picture.
“Early on, since we had a young group, I just didn’t want them to think, with 80 games, there’s plenty of time to catch up,” said Hartley. “We all know that once you’re seven, eight points behind with 10 to 15 games to go, and you’re in a logjam with other teams, it’s going to be unbelievably tough to make it.
“I was trying to get them in the mindset to avoid this. I would say probably December, January, I felt those seven-game segments really hit home. Now, they’re pros. They’re adults. They know our situation. They know how many games are left to be played – and they know every game is vital. We keep repeating the same song, but it seems to have worked since Day 1, so why change it?”
Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames announced today that defenceman Douglas Murray will join the club for practice today on a try-out basis. The Bromma, Sweden native has played for San Jose, Pittsburgh, and Montreal in his nine NHL seasons, featuring in 518 games and recording 64 points (7G, 57A) and 412 PIMs. Murray has spent this season with the Cologne Sharks in Germany’s DEL and had an assist and 24 PIMs in eight games.
via Sportsnet YouTube channel,
The league leader in blocked shots takes on the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, so, here are some of the best examples of him putting his body in the line of fire to help his team win hockey games.
via the Calgary Flames,
Relive the action and watch behind the scenes moments from the Flames longest road trip of the season.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Last week in Philadelphia, with his Calgary Flames about to embark on life after Mark Giordano, Flames head coach Bob Hartley was notified that many voices in the hockey world had officially placed Calgary’s playoff hopes on the gurney right next to their captain.
Of course, Hartley only laughed.
“It’s probably the same people who put us 29th and 30th at the start of the year,” he said. “Deja vu.”
I will admit to being one of those who thought the Flames wouldn’t be able to survive the loss of their captain and best player. Frankly, the argument wasn’t whether or not the Flames would wilt without Giordano, it was how they would wilt. Would the on-ice deficit hurt more than the mental kick in the teeth that losing your best player down the stretch can produce?
It was all up for discussion, but either way the Flames were dead, right?
Bob Hartley, coach of the Calgary Flames, after beating the Detroit Red Wings 5-2.
from Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald,
Wearing an ‘A’ on his chest, the wily winger is pacing the Flames in scoring, anchoring the right side of the top line every night.
And, yes, leading.
“His game is still progressing,” coach Bob Hartley says of Hudler, who signed a four-year pact in 2012. “More importantly, I feel his presence around the group in the locker-room, in the gym, around the team. That’s where I’ve noticed in Year 3 a big, big change. Not that there was anything bad before.
“We talked to many veterans about taking a bigger role in the new culture … in a way, they’re a reflection of our team, of our organization. Jiri has been unbelievable. He jumped right with (Mark Giordano) and all the veterans that we have.”
The value of Hudler to the Flames’ flock of kids is well-documented.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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