Calgary Flames should fire the Sutter brothers

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darrylsutter.jpgThe Calgary Flames thought that they could parlay some Sutter family magic into sibling revelry. Unfortunately, the pairing seems to be as dysfunctional as anything the Kardashians or Hiltons could muster.

To be fair to Brent, he’s only failed to generate success for a single season. Most of the blunders fall at the feet of his brother (and the Flames’ GM) Darryl. Things simply have been ugly for the Flames coach-turned-general manager ever since he started making personnel decisions. Of course, however you focus the blame, the fact of the matter is that they are clearly a package deal and many – including Brian Costello of The Hockey News – are calling for their heads.

Though still mathematically alive to make the playoffs, the fact of the matter is the Flames have regressed in giant steps this season and have no business competing for the Stanley Cup. And for that reason, GM Darryl Sutter and coach Brent Sutter must pay the price with their jobs.

Unfortunately, the firing of the Sutters won’t soothe the burns left by the general manager’s poor decisions. Let’s take a look at his many failed dealings.


Thumbnail image for brent sutter.jpgOlli Jokinen

Last year, the Flames moved a first rounder for the struggling former member of the Panthers and Coyotes. The funny looking Finn proceeded to become the scourge of many a Flames blogger and proved that maybe – just maybe – he never lead the Panthers to the playoffs because he wasn’t particularly good.

Sadly, GM Sutter missed the one positive thing about having Jokinen on the roster: allowing his contract to expire would mean that his $5.25 million cap hit would come off the books. Instead, Sutter moved Jokinen for two disappointing New York Rangers (Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik). Kotalik is, essentially, a poor man’s Jokinen except that he will make his team $3 million poorer through the 2011-12 season. Ugh.

Dion Phaneuf

It seemed like Phaneuf’s future came into doubt just about the moment the Flames signed overrated defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. Still, there’s no doubt that it was a little shocking how far the “sure thing” fell in the last few years.

The Flames ultimately moved his hefty $6.5 million for a grab bag of outcast Maple Leafs highlighted by on-and-off winger Niklas Hagman. Perhaps Phaneuf’s stock dropped, but that is a pretty weak return for a guy who (at one time) seemed like the next Chris Pronger.

Matt Stajan

Let me say this: however you feel about Stajan, there is no way he justified his 4 year, $14 million contract.

Jay Bouwmeester

Look, Bouwmeester isn’t a bad player but any means. I put together a custom list of defensemen on Dobber Hockey taking into account various categories (from points to time on ice to takeaways) and he came out 14th. Still, when you throw a $6.68 million per year contract at a defenseman, 27 points is still a pretty disappointing result.

No room for comfort

The team simply doesn’t have room to add complimentary players. While Cap Geek shows that the team has about $3.8 million with few spots to fill, at least $15 million is wasted on Steve Staois, Cory Sarich, Stajan, Kotalik and Hagman. When you consider that  about $28 million is wrapped up in their marquee guys (Iginla, Kipper, Bouwmeester, Langkow, Regehr) it’s clear that the Flames are what they are.

Thanks to the Sutter brothers, they should expect nothing more than an annual playoff bubble struggle. It’s time for the Flames to make a change.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.