Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the CP at Sportsnet,
The Flames finish out the regular season against the two clubs threatening to beat them out of a playoff berth -- the Los Angeles Kings at home on Thursday and the Winnipeg Jets on the road Saturday.
"I don't who made the schedule, but this guy has a flare for drama," Flames coach Bob Hartley said Monday following practice.
Calgary (43-29-7) is battling the Kings for third in the Pacific Division, as well as Winnipeg for the last wild card berth in the Western Conference. The Kings and Jets both had a game in hand on Calgary but both played Monday night.
The Flames are aware of the stakes in their last two games of the season, but there is also the matter of hosting the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
Teams out of the playoff race can impact those still in it. A 3-2 shootout decision to the also-ran Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday dealt a blow to the playoff prospects of the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference.
"The media is talking about the last two games, but we as a group, we're really focused on this (Arizona) game because we know they're a dangerous group," Flames defenceman Kris Russell said.
Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames announced today that they have recalled center Sam Bennett from the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League.
Bennett, a native Holland Landing, Ontario was the Flames first round pick (4th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The 18-year-old played 11 regular season games for Kingston and amassed 24 points (11G, 13A) before recording three assists in the Frontenacs’ four playoff games.
from Patrick Johnston of the Vancouver Province,
There’s no other way to put it.
It would be insane for this to happen, but it could.
As first pointed out by the guys over at Jewels From the Crown, there’s a scenario where we find ourselves on the last day of the season and the Jets and Flames find themselves locked in battle, tied…only to stop trying with minutes to play and letting the game get to OT, because both teams earning loser points would mean the Kings get eliminated.
That’s quite the scene. Just imagine, in a season where negative play has become a much-discussed talking point, this would put a whole new twist on the concept of tanking.
Should he have received more for this?
from WesGilbertson of the Calgary Sun,
WILL THEY PUNCH A PLAYOFF TICKET?
At this point, it’s the only question that really matters.
Thanks to Sunday’s triumph, the Flames once again leapfrogged the Los Angeles Kings, moving one point ahead of the Stanley Cup champions for third spot in the Pacific Division standings. The Kings do have one game in hand.
The Flames are also just one point behind the Winnipeg Jets, who are clinging to the final wildcard position in the Western Conference.
The crew from Calgary has six games remaining on its schedule, and it’s made it clear the goal is to win all of them. That’s probably not necessary, but they certainly can’t afford many losses.
The Flames host the Kings in Game 81 and then travel to Winnipeg for their regular-season finale, so fans might want to start growing out their fingernails for what could be a nerve-wracking win-to-get-in scenario.
What’s left in the tank?
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The creative force behind the fake Sean Monahan Twitter account (Boring Sean Monahan) remains an unsolved mystery in the Calgary Flames dressing room, though the suspect list has generally been narrowed down to two possible candidates, both of them long gone from the team.
It might have been defenceman Chris Butler, now with the St. Louis Blues, because of his quiet sneaky sense of humour. Brian McGrattan, now in the minors, is the other option, a loud and boisterous dressing-room presence who took Monahan under his wing last year, when the latter was still an NHL rookie.
Whoever created – and still maintains – the account (@boringmonahan) follows just one player (McGrattan), which is either a too-obvious clue or a clever red herring.
Defenceman Dennis Wideman thinks it’s the latter.
from Aaron Vickers at NHL.com.
With eight games remaining in the regular season, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley isn't concerned about his poker face.
A critical five-game road trip facing the Flames, one that could have serious implications on their bid to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs, instead has Hartley insisting Calgary's crew is all in.
"It seems that we always find a way to elevate our games in situations that we need to and right now we're all in," Hartley said. "The chips are all on the table right now. There's no bluffs. We have to come up with our best performances and it's fun. I'm enjoying the games. The players are on the job. This city is right behind us."
The Flames, who completed a five-game homestand with a 2-1-2 record following a 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday, begin their final extended road trip of the season Friday against the Minnesota Wild. It continues against the Nashville Predators, Stars, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers.
Calgary will start the trip on the outside looking in.
In ninth place in the Western Conference, the Flames are one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for third in the Pacific Division and three behind the Vancouver Canucks for second.
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?”
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