Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Jim Kelley at Sports Illustrated:
The end is plainly in sight even if, with just days remaining, we don’t yet know all of the teams that will join the second leg of the biathlon. But before we say goodbye to a marathon regular season that needed nearly all of its 1,230 games to eliminate slightly less than half the teams that thought they had a shot at the playoffs, a few items deserve your upright attention:
Let’s start with the Calgary Flames, the franchise that most American hockey fans know only as the first family of hockey failure in Atlanta.
The Flames have been playing shorthanded for several games, including a crucial loss earlier this week to the surging Canucks that may have decided first place in the Northwest Division. Now, there are a number of reasons why that can happen. Penalties incurred during a contest is the one that comes most readily to mind, but there can be injuries or a called-up player not getting to the arena on time.
The Flames are shorthanded simply because they are out of money.
continued… with thoughts on several teams
from TSN, Every week, the NHL on TSN panel voices its opinions on the hot topics of the day in the Wednesday Night Hockey Quiz.
Among the big late season acquisitions, who has been the biggest disappointment Mats Sundin or Olli Jokinen?
Bob McKenzie: I’ll go with Mats Sundin, only because his body of work with the Vancouver Canucks is larger than that of Olli Jokinen with the Calgary Flames. Having said that, I believe that the prospect of Mats Sundin reversing what has happened in the regular season and making noise in the playoffs is far greater than Jokinen with the Flames.
Keith Jones: For me it is Olli Jokinen and for this reason: he shoots the puck a lot; therefore Mike Cammalleri has stopped scoring goals. Since the trade deadline just three goals for Cammalleri due to the negative effect of Olli Jokinen.
more questions answered…
“We’re trying to work on the power-play. We’re going over it and there’s some improvements.”
-The Flames Jarome Iginla via Flames Insider after practice today. By the way, the Flames are 0=37 on the PP.
from Flames Insider,
Yes, the Flames deserved far better. No question, Calgary should’ve walked out of GM Place on Tuesday with the Northwest Division pennant tucked safely in their back pocket.
But, chill. All is not lost. Quite the contrary.
Roberto Luongo was sensational. Give the man his due. But give the vanquished theirs, too. That was the finest game Mike Keenan’s backtracking battalion has played since trashing the Flyers 5-1 in Philly on March 5.
And for those Sea of Red zealots in full angst mode, bemoaning the criminal unjustness of the Vancouver netminder’s scene-stealing performance - take a deep breath and a small cup of perspective. How many times has Miikka Kiprusoff left other teams cursing in exactly the same way over the years? Hey, it can happen to YOU, too, you know.
In point of fact, outside of that absolutely impotent (now 0-for-37) powerplay, there wasn’t much to quibble about.
continued and watch video highlights of the game below…
from Bruce Dowbiggin at the Calgary Herald,
To the consternation of Vancouver management and fans, their best player simply hasn’t stepped up as advertised. Luongo’s erratic play largely escaped criticism while the Canucks’ forwards and defenceman were red-hot in their 20-5-1 streak. The whiffs and bobbles were written off to rust from the extended six-week stay Luongo spent on the injury list. Give ‘im time, they said.
Well, time has passed, but with the club slumping to three straight losses as they head into tonight’s showdown with Calgary at GM Place, followers of the Canucks are coming to the uncomfortable conclusion that Vancouver may have to win in spite of their highly paid goalie. Holy Stan Smyl, could it happen at a worse time for fans of the Orcas? (Or a better time for Flames’ fans?)
Radio talk shows in this city are buzzing with complaints about their one-time hero. Luongo is being roasted for not committing to the Canucks past the end of his contract in 2010 and getting too big for his hockey britches for taking the captaincy. A loss against the Flames and he’ll likely be pilloried for starting the subprime mortgage mess.
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
Even though it’s Darryl Sutter who will ultimately decide if Iron Mike gets to start the final season of his three-year deal, Brent’s future could very well play a large part in the equation.
Despite being in the second year of a long-term deal with the New Jersey Devils, Brent has hinted all year long his days with the Eastern Conference club may be numbered….
All that can be remedied if the following were to unfold:
Sutter is the odds-on favourite to be named head coach of Canada’s Olympic team at the conclusion of the NHL playoffs. After all, the second-year Devils coach has a perfect record with Canada at the World Juniors and he’s already one of the premier coaches in today’s game.
Sutter could then resign and move back to Alberta, where he could work closely with Hockey Canada officials while living at home and scouting players coming through Western Canada.
Once the Olympics are complete, the door would be open for him to replace Keenan as the Flames next coach, bringing the number of Sutter brothers employed by the club to four. Darryl’s son is a club farmhand.
With knowledge of Brent’s imminent return to Alberta and desire to coach close to home, Darryl would be hesitant to fire Keenan prematurely and hire another coach to bridge the short gap until Brent is available.
“People don’t understand you’re dealing with desperate teams, no one’s going to go away with a fight. That’s just the way the league’s set up. It’s an 82-game marathon. You get to stop the marathon after 82 games and then you get into the [playoff] starting blocks to run a 100-yard dash.
“That’s your reward.”
-Flames coach Mike Keenan. More on Calgary from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail (Monday edition).
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
No champagne was uncorked.
No high fives. No celebrations.
The Calgary Flames clinched a playoff spot with last night’s 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars, but to say the jubilation was subdued would be an understatement….
Considering how much disappointment has surrounded the team lately thanks to the blown double-digit lead on the Vancouver Canucks in the standings and a horrible March performance, you’d think they would enjoy having something to celebrate.
“Oh, we’re pleased about it,” said Flames head coach Mike Keenan. “Going into the game, it wasn’t our focus. Our focus was to continue to get better.
“We have bigger goals ahead of us. With five games remaining, it’s still within our grasp—we’ll continue to work at it—the division title, and we’ll see how it all unfolds.”
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
A school of thought exists among Calgary Flames fans this team is better off being an underdog.
After seeing how poorly the Flames handled being a favourite the last five weeks, there may be some validity to the theory this squad fares better when needing to defy the odds and silence the critics as opposed to being a front-runner.
At least, it is something for the faithful to hang on to.
We’re going to find out over the next nine days whether it’s plausible or just wishful thinking. Because right now, they’re being written off as also-rans in many NHL corners.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
So, now that the Flames have succumbed to Vancouver, let’s watch this Jokinen fellow. He’s had his honeymoon, and now some hard times.
School is in on the big Finn. Let’s see if he is there to help lead the Flames out of this skid, or if Jokinen is willing to settle for the mediocrity that has thus far enveloped his National Hockey League career.
It seems impossible to think that a group of Top 6 forwards including Iginla, Jokinen, Langkow, Mike Cammalleri, Todd Bertuzzi and the speedy Curtis Glencross would go through as prolonged an offensive slump as the Flames are in.
The pieces are here. So why does the puzzle look so patchy?...
At times like these the leaders have to lead. That means you, Jarome.
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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