Calgary coach Sutter has Devils owner up in flames

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The Devils take on the Flames tonight in Calgary at 9:00 p.m. EST.

Here’s a head-scratcher of a scenario.

New Jersey Devils coach Brent Sutter resigns as coach just a week after a game 7 loss in the playoffs, citing his need to be back with his family, the grueling coaching schedule and his desire to spend more time with the junior hockey team as the reasons for leaving. Then two weeks later, he’s named as head coach of the Calgary Flames.

It just so happens that his brother, Darryl, is the team’s general manager. It’s just coincidence that the entire hockey world knew that Darryl and the Flames wanted Brent as the next coach. And it’s just coincidence that Sutter became the coach of the Flames, almost instantly. Right? Brent Sutter says it is.

“It [coaching in New Jersey] became difficult because of
other people,
people more important than the game. Did I expect to be in Calgary after
I resigned? No, I did not,” Sutter told The Post.

“It doesn’t
bother me because there was no truth to it. I know what took
place. People can have opinions. Am I going to fight that? No,” Sutter
said. “When I left New Jersey I was perfectly fine going back to the
farm and helping out with the [Red Deer Rebels] junior team. That’s what
I was going to do.”

Of course, his
sentiments are not exactly shared by the new New Jersey Devils,
especially owner Jeff Venderbeek. When Sutter resigned, the Devils and
their former coach had agreed that it would be best for Sutter to go
back home to be with his family and his junior team in Red Deer. But
when he joined up with the Flames,
it caught Vanderbeek off guard.

“Yes, it puts a
different light on things,” Vanderbeek told the
Star-Ledger. “It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

“All of the
conversations we had throughout the year with Brent had been
regarding his family, them not moving here, about Red Deer and changes
he was contemplating back there,” Vanderbeek told the Star-Ledger.
“Certainly I was surprised when the prospect of coaching another team
raised its head one month after leaving this team. It’s upsetting.”

Since Sutter was still under contract with the
Devils after he resigned, Vanderbeek and GM Lou Lamoriello had to give
permission for the Flames to negotiate with Sutter. They could have
refused, yet the acquiesced out of respect for their former coach (yet
another example of the class of the organization, as much as it pains me
to say). That doesn’t mean they have to be happy about it.

Yet
the Devils are sitting happy in 4th in the East while the Flames are
struggling out in Calgary, with the most anemic offense in the NHL,
aside from Boston. It’s a different situation of course, as the Flames
are rebuilding (supposedly), but you have to think that Vanderbeek feels
a bit better about the situation now than he did last summer. That
doesn’t mean he has to be happy about it, and nor should he.

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Just for Men: Sidney Crosby

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People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.

Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.

… Yet he can’t really grow much of a beard.

Granted, his facial hair is thicker now that he’s “Sid the star nearing 30” rather than “Sid the Kid,” but no one will confuse him for Brent Burns and his living-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods beard.

For some, especially Crosby-haters, it’s fodder for mockery.

For the rest of us, it’s merely comforting to see that people like Crosby are human and actually have a few flaws.

Game 5 will be ‘the most important game of our lives,’ says Caps’ Beagle

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Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.

The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.

“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”

If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.

Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.

“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”

Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.