Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Eric Francis at the Calgary Herald,
With the Flames off to another perplexing 5-10-1 start, frustrated fans are pointing fingers at the coach.
Some wonder if his new system is too complex for the players, others suggest he’s been unable to command respect in the room.
Many don’t care why – they simply want him fired.
It’s as absurd a notion as it is symbolic of the world we live in today. Everyone wants instant results, and instead of trying to strive for solutions they propose the easy, knee-jerk reactions.
That’s not the way households, businesses, countries or hockey teams should be run.
“For people to say that is pretty ridiculous,” said Sean Monahan of the growing calls for Gulutzan’s head.
“It’s a process and sometimes things aren’t going the way you want them to. I think it’s just a matter of the full 20 guys buying in. We’ve got a lot of skill and you look at our team on paper we’re a good team. Right now we’re not showing it on the ice.”
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
“Honestly, me and my family have never really been into politics. My parents are out here and we watched it a little bit and talked a bit about it at dinner. It’s nothing that’s going to be in our everyday lives. Obviously it’s a big deal in the States. We read about it but didn’t worry too much about it.”
And therein lies clues to why Gaudreau could very soon snap out of his scoring funk:
While the bulk of folks are all up in arms over the election results, Gaudreau is unfazed.
The same can be said of how he’s dealing with the frustration and headlines of his own stemming from his poor start.
“In the game, it’s part of sports,” philosophized the $6.75-million left winger who has two goals, eight points and sits minus-11 after 14 games.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes bounces are going your way. I think showing your frustration sometimes is a good thing — it shows how much you care about the game and you’re trying to make plays and be smart on the ice.”
from Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun,
The stats show it.
The boss said it.
And the stars on the Saddledome payroll, the subject of much finger-pointing during what has been frustrating fall for the Calgary Flames, are not disputing it.
“Right now, our top guys aren’t good enough. And we know that,” said Flames first-liner and alternate captain Sean Monahan. “We know it ourselves. It’s pretty obvious. We talk about it, and this is time for us to step up and get some wins here and do it as a team. Our best players have to be our best players.”
There is plenty of blame to go around as the Flames have flickered to a 5-8-1 start, and the big boys certainly deserve their share.
It’s always newsworthy when criticism is made public, but Calgary’s president of hockey operations, Brian Burke, wasn’t exactly revealing state secrets when he mentioned during Monday’s morning show appearance on Sportsnet 960 The Fan radio that “our top guys aren’t getting it done.”
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Every penalty feels like a goal against before the puck even drops. The confidence is completely shot. Even penalty-killing stalwarts such as Kruger and Duncan Keith are getting burned game after game after game.
If ever the Hawks were going to get their confidence — and maybe even their mojo — back, it was going to be Monday night against the Calgary Flames, who have been as awful on the power play as the Hawks have been on the PK. Yet the Flames, 1-of-25 with the man-advantage entering the game, scored 39 seconds into each of their first two power plays and went on to win 3-2 when Kris Versteeg scored the lone goal of a seven-round shootout.
At the point of the Flames’ second power-play goal of the night, the Hawks had given up an unconscionable 14 goals on 23 opposing power plays. For some perspective, that 2013 team gave up just 18 power-play goals in 141 chances.
“Just seems no matter what, it finds a way, a different way, every time,” Joel Quenneville said.
“It just seems to find its way to the back of the net if we just make one little mistake,”Jonathan Toews said.
Watch the game highlights below...
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.
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