What's next for the Calgary Flames?

Kipper.jpgWhat an incredibly disappointing season for the Calgary Flames. What
has to be most frustrating is how the team completely sold out for this
one season, making several big moves in an attempt to spark any sort of
secondary scoring, is that nothing seemed to work. Nearly every move
made has handcuffed the team for the future, and bringing back the same
roster next season has to be unfathomable for fans and ownership alike.

So what’s next for the Flames?

For one, it’s like that Darryl Sutter is on his way as the team’s
general manager. After a season of such catastrophic decisions not
paying off, starting at the very top is the first step to recovery.
Yet as Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail puts it,
changing the
general manager will not instantly make things better.

Sutter’s team-building philosophies kept shifting over
the past half-dozen seasons as he made the move to permanent GM. In that
time, he loaded up on high-end blue-line talent (Robyn Regehr, Dion
Phaneuf, Bouwmeester) only to discover that the way of the new NHL is to
score more goals. So he changed gears in midseason, dumped Phaneuf,
dumped Olli Jokinen, and was probably the only man in town genuinely
surprised when the newcomers failed to right the ship. Collectively, the
quartet of forwards brought in to save the day (or at least provide
secondary scoring) failed miserably. Ales Kotalik, Niklas Hagman, Matt
Stajan and Chris Higgins managed 11 goals collectively in a total of 86
games, not nearly enough considering the premium ice time they received.

we stated yesterday, the Flames currently have $53 million locked up
among 17 players for next season. Not much room to make needed changes,
without at least making some major changes in the process. One
suggestion that may be getting whispered in corners around the NHL is to
trade Jarome Iginla. Not a smart idea, says
Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun:

Dealing Jarome Iginla after this disappointing season would be the
biggest folly of them all. It’s the type of move which could backfire in
the same manner as the infamous Doug Gilmour deal, which eventually
crippled the organization for
several years.

Iginla, who has a no-trade clause, said Wednesday he doesn’t want to
go. “I want to be part of the solution, and I don’t think we’re that far
(off),” he said.

Sutter’s constantly changing philosophy for the type of team he wants
to build put the Flames in difficult situations, as it seemed they
never could figure out the type of team they wanted to be. Tough to
maintain consistency when your own general manager fails to make up his
mind. Shifting the philosophy in the middle of your season — and
looking to the Toronto Maple Leafs to fix your scoring woes — is an
even faster way to head straight to mediocrity and disappointment.

Whatever happens, trading Jarome Iginla is not the answer. There are
many issues with the team but Iginla is not one of them. He had a bad
season and didn’t step up when it mattered, but not even he could have
pulled this team away from a season collapse.

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    Don’t look now, but the Red Wings have won five straight

    DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 21: Gustav Nyquist #14 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his third period goal with teammates while playing the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena on October 21, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 5-3. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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    A 26th straight playoff appearance? It seemed, when this season began, that not many were giving the Detroit Red Wings much of a chance to accomplish the feat.

    Time will tell.

    Despite their doubters, the Red Wings have now won five straight games, following a pretty uninspiring start with back-to-back losses in Florida to begin the season.

    Their latest win came Tuesday, as the Red Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. (For Carolina, that wraps up a six-game road trip to begin the season.)

    Dylan Larkin, who had 23 goals as a rookie in 2015-16, finally got his first two goals of this season, scoring twice against the Hurricanes.

    So far, 11 players on their roster have scored, with Darren Helm leading the way. Nineteen of 20 players have also recorded at least a single point. As a team, they’ve been able to extend leads against the opposition over the course of this streak, which is a welcomed change for coach Jeff Blashill.

    “I said that to the coaching staff after the game,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “That’s the biggest difference – we score the fourth goal this year. So now you’ve got a two-goal cushion and if something goes the wrong way, you’re still fine.

    “It’s a huge difference.”

    A big help has been the play of their goalies — Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek.

    As per stats.hockeyanalysis.com, the Red Wings currently have the second best save percentage (95.95) at five-on-five through six games, not to mention the 10th best shooting percentage (9.86).

    Howard, who was part of trade speculation last season, has allowed only a single goal on 63 shots.

    So far, so good for the Red Wings.

    Not many seemed optimistic about this team as the season approached.

    Sure, the Red Wings had made 25 consecutive playoff appearances, but they also entered this season with an older Henrik Zetterberg, and the health of Niklas Kronwall (click here) and Jonathan Ericsson (click here) in question.

    They are also without Pavel Datsyuk, who returned to Russia. But the Red Wings tried to make up for that loss by signing Frans Nielsen.

    Pundits and prognosticators, including the overwhelming majority at PHT, said the Red Wings’ playoff streak would be snapped this season.

    A winning streak this early might not be enough to make doubters think twice.

    PHT Morning Skate: Pittsburgh zoo has some fun with their penguin exhibit


    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.

    Ben Bishop has an uncertain future with Tamp Bay, but he’s OK with that. (ESPN)

    –Four things you didn’t know about the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2016. (HHOF.com)

    –How hard is it to coach a young roster? Coyotes coach Dave Tippett tackles that in a Q & A with NHL.com.

    –Watch the highlights from last night’s wild game between the Flyers and Sabres. (Top)

    –After a couple of tough seasons, the Avalanche are showing some promise. (Sportsnet)

    –The Pittsburgh zoo had a little bit of fun with their penguin exhibit:

    –That’s an interesting gift to give a former player:

    Sharks finally solve Gibson in OT to defeat rival Ducks

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    Talk about perfect timing.

    Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday, doing so in overtime to lift the San Jose Sharks past the goaltending of John Gibson in a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

    Facing off against their California rivals for the first time this season, the Sharks dominated puck possession and on the shot clock. Had it not been for the play of Gibson, this one could’ve been a lopsided win for San Jose.

    Gibson replaced Jonathan Bernier to begin the second period. Bernier left the game with an upper-body injury.

    In relief, Gibson made 24 saves on 25 shots. Vlasic was the only San Jose player to get the puck past him, but not before the Ducks managed to steal a single point.

    The Ducks recorded the single point, but did so faced with a short-handed lineup as the game continued. Not only did Bernier leave the game, but so, too, did Ryan Getzlaf, who didn’t play a shift in the third period.

    He left with an upper-body injury, as per the Ducks, who at the time listed his return as questionable.

    Elliott backstops Flames to victory in his return to St. Louis

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24: Matt Stajan #18 and Lance Bouma #17 of the Calgary Flames congratulate Brian Elliott #1 after a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Flames defeated the Blachawks 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

    So, it seems Jake Allen was onto something.

    The St. Louis Blues goalie noted a few days ago that Calgary Flames fans shouldn’t be worried about Brian Elliott despite his early-season struggles.

    Well, Elliott has since put together strong performances in back-to-back games against Central Division opponents from Chicago and then St. Louis.

    After earning a shootout win over the Blackhawks on Monday, Elliott was put back in the Calgary net to finish off the back-to-back road set.

    Facing his former team, Elliott made 23 saves on 24 shots and the Flames recorded a 4-1 victory. It was a special return to St. Louis for Elliott, who spent five seasons with the Blues.

    “I saw that on the schedule from a while ago in the summer,” Elliott told NHL.com. “You want to come back here. I had so much fun playing in front of these fans in this building and wanted to do it again even though it was another team. The guys did a heck of a job in front of me to get that win for me.”

    Not a bad trip for the Flames, with a maximum four points against two teams considered to be contenders in the Western Conference.

    “I thought we were good in front of him, too,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan told the Calgary Herald. “I thought we kept a lot of the stuff to the outside, but he made some big saves, especially at the end, when we knew their push was coming.

    “I thought that was when he was his best. And that’s what you need — we put ourselves in position to win and then he carried us through.”