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.

As
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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    Varlamov steps up with ‘phenomenal’ performance versus Red Wings

    at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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    DETROIT (AP) Semyon Varlamov lifted his team to a win on a night when the rest of the Colorado Avalanche were outplayed thoroughly.

    Varlamov made 43 saves and Blake Comeau scored in both the third period and the shootout to help the Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. It was the highest save total of the season for Varlamov.

    “He was phenomenal for us,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. “We had back-to-back games and got in late last night. Not trying to find an excuse, but they’re a good puck-possession team. Our goalie needed to be our best player for us to win and he was.”

    Matt Duchene also scored for the Avalanche, who won despite being outshot 45-21. Colorado has won nine of its last 12 road games.

    Jonathan Ericsson and Pavel Datsyuk scored for Detroit, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

    “I thought we played really good,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought our energy level was great, I thought we won tons of puck races and puck battles in the `O’ zone, I thought we shot the puck well, we had net presence. … What you can really control is your process and I thought our process was great.”

    The Avalanche, who won at Ottawa on Thursday, improved to 6-2 on the season in the second game of back-to-backs. The shootout went four rounds, and Comeau ended it by beating Petr Mrazek with a wrist shot to the glove side.

    Datsyuk scored Detroit’s only goal of the shootout. Varlamov denied Dylan Larkin, Brad Richards and Gustav Nyquist.

    Nathan MacKinnon had Colorado’s first goal of the shootout on the third attempt by the Avalanche – Detroit would have won if Mrazek had stopped him.

    “We play a team game. A goalie can’t win a game by himself,” Varlamov said. “We scored two nice goals, and then in the shootout a nice goal by Nate saved us and then Blake scored on a nice shot.”

    Duchene opened the scoring in the first period after the Red Wings were sloppy with the puck in their own zone. Colorado’s Mikhail Grigorenko backhanded a pass to Duchene, who scored from around the edge of the crease.

    Detroit evened it up in the second when Ericsson’s wrist shot from the point deflected off Duchene and then skipped off the ice surface and past Varlamov.

    Comeau put Colorado ahead in the third with a shot from the slot, but the Red Wings answered on a power play when Datsyuk backhanded the puck past Varlamov from in close with 10:09 remaining in regulation.

    The Avalanche had 25 blocked shots to Detroit’s four, underscoring just how much of the game was played in Colorado’s zone, but the Red Wings came away with just the one point for the shootout loss. Nyquist had a great chance in overtime when he swooped in alone on Varlamov, but his backhander was stopped.

    Detroit’s Darren Helm had a career-high nine shots on goal.

    “He’s shooting from everywhere,” Detroit’s Luke Glendening said. “I was hoping one would go in for him, but I think it’s a good sign that he’s getting a lot of chances.”

    NOTE: Detroit D Mike Green returned after missing two games with a sore groin, and D Danny DeKeyser played after leaving Detroit’s win over Ottawa on Wednesday during the third period because of a bruised right leg. … The Red Wings were short-handed for the final 92 seconds of overtime, but managed to kill the penalty.

     

    Doan makes Jets/Coyotes franchise history

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    The Arizona Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise has a new leader in career points.

    Shane Doan set the new mark at 931 points, taking over the franchise lead from Dale Hawerchuk thanks to a three-point night in a 4-1 Coyotes win over the Calgary Flames on Friday.

    He scored twice — his first goal of the night tied Hawerchuk’s record — and added an assist. At 39 years of age, Doan has 21 goals this season and is on pace for his best season in that department since he scored 31 in 2008-09.

    In fact, at his age and this stage in his NHL career, he could set a new personal best for goals in a single season.

    Despite all the off-ice turmoil the Coyotes have gone through, and the speculation of that franchise possibly uprooting from the desert, Doan has hung in there.

    That’s not to say he hasn’t spoken out at times about the constant controversies that have come up between the organization, the city of Glendale and the NHL.

    In September of 2012, prior to the lockout, he had the choice to sign elsewhere. He narrowed his options down to Vancouver and Phoenix, eventually deciding to stick with the Coyotes.

    No regrets.

    Kopitar dominates with a hat trick to help Kings defeat Rangers in OT

    St Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings
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    Anze Kopitar received high praise from L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter following Friday’s win over the New York Rangers.

    All Kopitar did was score three goals on four shots on goal. He was also credited with five hits while winning 65 per cent of his faceoffs. His third goal of the evening with 30 seconds remaining in regulation pushed this game into overtime, where Tanner Pearson scored the winner for L.A. in a 5-4 victory.

    “It was Kopi’s best game of the season, that’s for sure,” said Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.

    “Not just because he scored three goals, but it was his best game all around in terms of using his whole package. I mean, he was a pretty dominant player.”

    L.A. maintains an eight-point lead on the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.

    The Kings’ victory came at a cost. Marian Gaborik left the game in the first period after being involved in an awkward collision. He did not return, and Sutter didn’t have an update on the veteran forward when the game ended.

    Video: P.K. Subban tossed after on-ice outburst toward officials

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    P.K. Subban was given a game misconduct on Friday after an outburst directed at officials in the final minute against the Buffalo Sabres.

    Subban was furious after the puck got caught up in the skates of the linesman in the neutral zone before Evander Kane then picked it up and scored into the open net. That put the Sabres up by two goals with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and ended any hopes of a Montreal comeback.

    Subban had some choice words for officials but his argument ultimately landed him with an early exit from this game. The Habs lost by a final score of 6-4.

    “I looked around to see if he was going to blow [the whistle,]” said Subban, as per Sportsnet. “The puck is coming out of the zone. It hits the linesman. He’s standing there and sees the puck coming. It goes back to the player and he puts it in the open net. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

    “Are we supposed to smile and be happy after that and say, ‘Thank you’ to the linesman? I don’t think so. I’m a little bit disappointed about that, because I felt there was a minute left in the game [and] we still had a chance to score.”

    The Sabres scored four straight goals between the first and second periods, chasing Ben Scrivens from the net 1:28 into the second period.