Did the Calgary Flames get ToskaLOL'd?

Francis of the Ottawa Sun
isn’t too happy with Brent Sutter’s
decision to go with Vesa Toskala yesterday against the Wild and says the
gamble was not worth the risk, considering how the Flames are fighting
for their playoff lives right now.

Two of the three goals Toskala allowed on 12 shots were questionable
efforts — the type a Vezina candidate like Miikka Kiprusoff hasn’t made
in a long time.

The odds of a Flames playoff berth just got steeper, and for that,
critics will rant even louder today.

Starting a backup at the best of times is a no-win move for a coach,
and in hindsight, it’s easy to second-guess the decision. But with no
room for error and no back-to-back games until next weekend, Kiprusoff
should’ve started.

A couple of things here.

Starting Vesa Toskala against anyone at anytime is a giant risk to
take. In this case, I can completely understand Sutter’s decision and
I’d make the exact same one if I were in his shoes.

Before last night, Toskala had actually been playing better than
Kiprusoff, who had a 4-3-0 record since the trade deadline. Toskala has
won both games he’s started, has played great in both and was perfect in
mop up duty after Kiprusoff laid a giant egg against Vancouver. Then
you factor in that the game was against the Wild, whom Toskala has owned
(4-0-0 lifetime) in his career and the decision at this point was
clear. Start Toskala now, let Kiprusoff start against tougher opponents.

Hindsight is always, always much clearer than when you try to predict
the future. Was starting Toskala a gamble? Of course, but you can’t
fault Sutter for it. Of course, everyone will.

Scroll Down For:

    Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


    As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

    The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

    “Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

    Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

    Suter also had something to say about that.

    “It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

    Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

    For example, at today’s practice:

    The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

    Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.

    Goalie nods: Sparks to make NHL debut for Leafs

    Garett Sparks

    We already knew this yesterday, but in case you missed it, Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against Edmonton.

    Sparks, 22, has been excellent in the AHL this season, going 8-2-1 with a .938 save percentage. He spent most of last season in the ECHL, where he also posted good numbers.

    Sparks is getting the nod tonight because James Reimer is hurt and Jonathan Bernier has been struggling badly.

    “He’s got an opportunity like lots of kids have had before him and it’s up to him to grab it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, per NHL.com. “He’s got the [second-best] save percentage in the AHL and he’s winning all the time down there. Obviously we’re in need of some saves and we’ll have to play well in front of him for sure. But it’s an opportunity for him.”

    Bernier, meanwhile, will have to sit and watch. The 27-year-old has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. His save percentage has fallen all the way to .888.

    Anders Nilsson will be in net for the Oilers.


    Cam Ward for the Hurricanes. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, who will try not to rely on him so much.

    Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

    — The Canucks aren’t saying if it’ll be Ryan Miller of Jacob Markstrom. For the Ducks, it’ll be John Gibson.

    Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

    Alain Vigneault

    Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

    The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

    He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

    But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

    “Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

    “But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

    Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

    The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

    Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

    Cory Schneider, Alex Galchenyuk ,
    Leave a comment

    Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

    From NHL.com:

    Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

    Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

    Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

    As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.