Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Eric Duhatschek at the Globe & Mail:
Here’s a thought for the Calgary Flames to ponder, as they enter another off-season answering the same old questions about their future, both short-and-long term, and why they’re always good enough to make the playoffs but never good enough to win any rounds. Would they consider moving Dion Phaneuf, a 24- year-old defenceman, only one season removed from qualifying as a Norris Trophy finalist?
It would be a counterintuitive move on one level because if Phaneuf ever matured into a dominant defenceman, a la Chris Pronger, it is a decision that could backfire in a big way.
However, it is hard to imagine the Flames standing pat with their current core, given that they haven’t been able to win in the playoffs with the group they’ve got.
Al Cameron of the Flames Insider at the Calgary Herald, from Mike Keenan’s press conference:
Also interesting was Keenan’s somewhat condescending point (or maybe I’m just a little over-sensitive) that, yes, he’s been a member of the media in the past, and yes, he knows the pressures we’re under from higher-ups (yes, you editors know who you are!) to draw conclusions and pass judgement on hockey matters, but maybe, just maybe, we don’t know the full story in all cases..
A bit more from Keenan about this year’s playoffs here, mentioning that he plans to be behind the bench next season, and a few other points.
And what did Miikka Kiprusoff have to say today? Another posting from Cameron:
Hey, whaddya know? Miikka Kiprusoff, for the second straight year, has elected to blow off the media and, by extension, blow off the fans of the Calgary Flames by not speaking on garbage bag day.
Yes, I know his job is to stop pucks for the Calgary Flames, not speak to the media, but at some point he’s got to say something to the people who pay a good chunk of his salary by buying tickets to see him play.
No such luck this year. Thanks for nothing, Miikka . . .
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
So here is the question facing the Calgary Flames ownership group, as they sift through the ashes of another disappointing first-round playoff exit.
Did the edition of the team, coached by Mike Keenan and managed by Darryl Sutter, have the right stuff for a long playoff run, but was simply undermined by injuries to key personnel?
Or do their problems winning in the post-season run deeper, and require an organizational makeover from top to bottom.
At this early stage — only one day removed from a first-round ouster by the Chicago Blackhawks — you can safely predict one thing: The organization will conduct a complete review before the blame game starts, the scapegoats are identified and the changes come.
via Jeff Gordon of the Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Here is a shocker: Mike Keenan has once failed horribly with a big budget team, amid great hype.
The yesteryear coaching legend had led still another franchise to epic disappointment. This time it is the Calgary Flames – a team that Darryl Sutter retooled to meet Iron Mike’s specifications.
The Flames caught a first-round cab against the upstart Blackhawks, coached by Old Friend Joel Quenneville.
The bald-headed despot ran off skilled players, played goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff into the ice and then got outcoached when the games mattered. Nice work!
Given the high expectations in Calgary, this exit will not go over well. Knowing Keenan, he will probably try and end-around by going to ownership to get more control, at the expense of GM Darryl Sutter.
Perhaps Sutter will try to save himself by cashiering Keenan, who is a tactically incompetent coach whose motivational tactics quit working ages ago — when top players gained lifetime security with multi-million-dollar deals.
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
What next, Mr. Sutter?
One thing is evident on the heels of the Calgary Flames latest first-round defeat: It’s time to make changes.
With the coaching staff.
With the personnel.
With the identity.
The man atop the totem pole, GM Darryl Sutter, can make all the assertions he wants this season was done in by injuries.
A betting man says he will.
But that’s only part of the puzzle that’s become as scrambled as the one you get from the box Christmas morning from your aunt.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
All the months of preparation; all the trades; all the dollars spent on salary — all in vain once again for the Calgary Flames, whose season ended in familiar fashion last night.
Only once in the past 20 years have the Flames advanced past the first round, and their prolonged postseason drought continued again this spring.
The Flames had no answers last night for a Chicago Blackhawks team that outclassed them in all areas of the game — physical play, special teams, discipline, energy and finishing ability. The net result: A 4-1 Blackhawks’ win, which gave the visitors from Chicago the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series by a margin of 4-2.
Chicago took a very early two goal lead and basically skated with the Flames the rest of the way.
Chicago scores into an empty net late in the game, final score 4-1.
Dion Phaneuf did not take part in the morning skate and head coach Mike Keenan erased all questions about the status of the blueliner for tonight’s contest.
“No, he will not,” was Keenan’s response when asked if Phaneuf would play. “He’s not available. And his status is day-to-day.”
Phaneuf’s teammates expressed their concern about his possible absence but remained positive that they could handle the 24-year-old’s workload.
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
Be it tonight at home or Wednesday in Chicago, the Flames appear destined for their fourth-straight, first-round exit.
As easily predicted by their late-season disintegration and injuries woes, the Flames are once again on the brink, having nothing left to show for an otherwise solid NHL regular season.
Credit the Blackhawks for taking it to the Flames in Game 5 with an awesome display of controlled aggression, skill and poise far beyond their years.
Shame on the veteran Flames for coming out flat and failing to come up with an emotional response to the beatdown.
from Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star,
First, we had the case of Pittsburgh’s Maxime Talbot starting a fight with Philadelphia goon Daniel Carcillo on Saturday afternoon.
According to almost everybody at Hockey Night In Canada, the fact that Talbot started a fight knowing he was going to be clobbered somehow inspired his teammates to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win the series.
Though analyst Gary Galley first said the fistic defeat would probably spell the end for Pittsburgh, he later agreed with his colleagues that Talbot’s impression of a punching bag had indeed changed the course of the game….
But here’s where the confusion comes in. That evening, the Blackhawks jumped out to a 5-1 second-period lead over the Flames.
They were dominating the Flames the way the Flyers had dominated the Penguins in the early going. Amazingly, Calgary defenceman Adam Pardy went on a Talbot-like suicide mission and attacked Chicago tough guy Ben Eager. The results were the same as Talbot’s strategic gem, a one-sided defeat – with one exception. The Flames didn’t score another goal and are now on the verge of elimination.
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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