Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
Turns out, goals win games, and goaltending too, not hitting and, for one game anyway, not shots on net. The Canucks had just 13 of those, a season low. The Flames had 46, a season high.
Managing 33 fewer shots is the most in Canucks’ history for a Vancouver win.
“We’ll take it,” Luca Sbisa said. “But it wasn’t pretty.”
Maybe not, but the goals did come easy. Loui Eriksson scored while attempting to pass. A Nikita Tryamkin shot toward the net somehow found Markus Granlund’s stick, and tipped in.
Ryan Miller was out of his mind good, and he had to be. The Flames continually crashed into the slot, whizzing more than 45 shots toward the Canucks veteran goalie, many from in tight.
Watch the highlights of Vancouver's 4-2 win below...
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Well, what a difference five weeks make.
On Dec. 1, neither the Calgary Flames nor the Vancouver Canucks were giving anyone much to be positive about, ranked 10th and 12th respectively in the West and spinning their wheels. Today, as the two teams mark their season’s halfway point with a home-and-home Friday and Saturday, both are edging towards contention — especially Calgary.
Vancouver has won five in a row, and a sweep of Calgary will move them ahead of the Flames by a point. Calgary has won five of its past seven games — 11 of its last 15 — and since Dec. 2 they lead the NHL in powerplay (35.7%) and are fourth in penalty killing (89.1%). This from a team that was ranked dead last on the PP early in the season.
If the Flames sweep both games they would be, at worst, within a point of Edmonton, a team they’ve been chasing since Day 1 this season. Calgary gets Edmonton on Hockey Night in Canada the following two weekends, but it’s these two games against the Canucks that could really separate the Flames from the bottom half of the Pacific.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
... Iginla still has a stature in the game that his current scoring production doesn’t necessarily undermine and if Edmonton isn’t a good fit, then there are other possibilities as well.
The Chicago Blackhawks, a three-time Stanley Cup champion since 2010, always add a veteran piece at the deadline and would make a logical landing place. So, for that matter, would Los Angeles, where Darryl Sutter is the coach and had Iginla as the linchpin on a team that got to the 2004 Stanley Cup final....
You cannot even rule out Calgary as a destination, because the Flames could absolutely use a physical presence on the top line to help Johnny Gaudreau get a little extra space and time on the ice.
So there will be options, and while Iginla is careful to say all the right things – that his focus at the moment is helping the Avalanche win games and turn their season around – the trade deadline will be here sooner rather than later and it’s important to know ahead of time, for family reasons among other considerations, what is possible and what isn’t.
from Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Herald,
The first-place Calgary Flames.
Just a few weeks ago, that seemed beyond far-fetched, almost impossible to imagine.
After Saturday’s 6-2 shellacking of the Winnipeg Jets at the Saddledome, it’s a reality.
That’s right — the Flames, having now extended their winning spree to six consecutive contests, are perched atop the Pacific Division standings.
“I think we worked hard to get there, and it’s a great feeling,” said Flames centre Mikael Backlund. “Now, we just have to keep pushing. We can’t get satisfied. We just have to push ourselves to get even better. I think we have a lot of potential on this team and if we can keep pushing each other, I think we can do really well this year.”
This has all the makings of a December to remember for the Flames.
Where have you been Brian Burke?
from Eric Francis at Sportsnet,
The Calgary Flames returned from their longest road trip of the season Tuesday morning just two points out of a wild card spot.
Despite a horrific start that has seen the club struggle to find any sort of identity or consistency under Glen Gulutzan, just one win separated them from the west’s top eight. And while history suggests those outside the playoff bubble by U.S. Thanksgiving are long-shots at best to play in the spring tourney, it says here the Flames will be in that playoff mix come April.
Here’s the logic:
If this team can remain that close to the pack without the help of any of its top five players, surely things will turn when the stars start showing up. It’s unconventional thinking from a columnist, who over the years, has been called everything but an optimist when it comes to the Flames.
from Chris Nichols of FanRag,
During a Monday afternoon appearance on Leafs Lunch on Toronto’s TSN 1050, NHL Insider Bob McKenzie was asked he had heard anything about the Leafs being interested in Dougie Hamilton.
“I’m sure they probably are,” surmised McKenzie. “I mean, listen – they want to improve their defense. If Hamilton is available – and we don’t really know if he is or isn’t. Calgary is definitely listening on Dougie Hamilton. That’s not the same as wanting to trade him. Montreal was listening on P.K. Subban too, as they told us on multiple occasions.
“So I don’t have any evidence to suggest anything is imminent. Would the Leafs like to bolster their blueline? I’m sure they would. That’s the next logical step in the progression for this hockey team.
via Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Herald...
with Versteeg gasping for air as he retreated to the visitors’ locker-room. “I thought it went pretty well until I got in that car accident there,” Versteeg said with a grin. “That’s definitely, I would say, up there with the hardest I’ve ever been hit. When you can’t breathe for a minute, it’s pretty scary.” For Brouwer, the scary part was the thought that Versteeg might be headed back to the injured list. “When you see you’re going to hit your own player, all you try to do is make it as soft as possible,” Brouwer said.
via Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,
The game got chippy late in the second period, leading to four combined power plays. Edmonton forward Matthew Benning delivered a low, neutral-zone hit that appeared to injure MacKinnon and teammate Joe Colborne confronted Benning, but Colborne was given the extra minor.
Watch the hit below...
from the CP at TSN,
Chad Johnson threw up his glove to stop a hard shot from Artemi Panarin but the puck went off the top of his glove and high in the air. It ended up landing behind him where Hossa got his stick on it for his 80th game-winning goal.
"I don't think the goalie knew exactly where the puck was and the defender tried to put his stick out. I tried to hook on his stick so he doesn't touch the puck and the puck just bounced pretty much close to the goal line and I just tried to put it underneath me in the net," said Hossa.
As the puck trickled over the line, Hossa was in the crease and in the process of falling on the Flames goaltender.
Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said he would have challenged for goaltender interference but he did not have a timeout left, having used it earlier in the period.
more on Chicago's 3-2 win over Calgary and watch the goal below...
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
Even if the Flames sprinkled Brian McGrattan, Milan Lucic and Wayne Simmonds throughout their lineup, it wouldn’t stop the age-old tactic of laying lumber where playmakers are most vulnerable – the hands, wrist and arms.
“He’s still going to get slashed – that’s still going to happen,” said Brouwer of the ancient age of nuclear deterrents.
“You can’t protect guys against every little thing that happens on the ice. You can stand up for him, but fighting isn’t as prevalent in the NHL as it was, so as a result guys are going to get those extra whacks. You can go talk to (the offenders) but at the end of the day if a guy on the other team that’s giving him a whack doesn’t want to fight you’re not going to be able to fight him.”
So, such stick work will ensue, albeit without Gaudreau for roughly 4-6 weeks, as is coach Glen Gulutzan’s assumption until the results of the surgery are discussed.
Carrying over from the days in Anaheim where coach Bruce Boudreau’s longtime tactic was ensuring his charges regularly administering such lumber, his Wild gave Gaudreau two serious whacks Tuesday before the damaging blow. It prompted Gulutzan to discuss the abuse with officials after two periods, to no avail.
“We’re not new to the game – we’ve seen this for years,” said Gulutzan, who accepts it as part of the game.
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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.
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