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2011 NHL New Year’s resolutions: Northwest Division

For many people around the world, the beginning of 2011 elicits the creation of a list of new year’s resolutions. Many scoff that odes to stop smoking or lose 20 lbs. are pipe dreams, but what’s wrong with a little optimism as the world cleans the slate of its calendar?

With that in mind, we decided to recommend a few changes (or sometimes with successful teams, what not to change) for each NHL team. We’ll go division by division in alphabetical order, because one of our resolutions is to be fair.

Click here for the Atlantic Division post.

Click here for the Central Division post.

Click here for the Northeast Division post.

Now here’s the Northwest Division’s new years resolutions.

Calgary

Well, they already lost dead weight

Firing Darryl Sutter on December 28th really gave the Flames a head start. It’s sort of like losing 10 lbs. over the holiday season – unexpected but a good idea.

Time for a fire sale

Unfortunately, the Flames are in Biggest Loser mode: they have a lot more dead weight to lose. Jay Feaster needs to act like the general manager equivalent of Jillian Michaels by getting rid of way more weight. It might be painful in the short run, but trading Jarome Iginla and other aging, expensive players while they still have plenty of trade value is the best course to take.

Colorado

Tell Chris Stewart to use his hands to score goals

That whole “fighting” thing should be left to people who do little to nothing else.

Re-sign Craig Anderson

The goalie market is incredibly dry right now, so maybe the Avalanche should consider jumping the gun and try to lock down the goalie who carried them during the 2010-11 season. Unless, of course, the Avs aren’t convinced that he is the right goalie for them …

Edmonton

Commit to the badness, but grow

The Oilers clearly have no chance to make the playoffs, so they shouldn’t mess it up by ruining their chances to land another high-end draft pick by going on a late season run. With all the talent coming into that team, another top five pick could set Edmonton up to follow in the footsteps of other clubs that restocked through the draft like Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago.

That being said, they need to learn lessons about why they are losing. Most importantly, the next suggestion:

Find some defense

Edmonton is well-stocked with offensive blueliners, but they could really use some defensemen who … you know, play defense. They’re currently ranked last in the league in goals allowed.

Minnesota

Tank

When you look at the Wild roster, it’s full of expensive players who aren’t providing the kind of results worthy of their bloated salaries. It’s a lot like the situation in Calgary, although Minnesota’s core is at least a little younger.

What could make them a viable team? Some better draft picks, because Minnesota isn’t exactly a high-end spot for free agents (nor do they have much cap space to sign them if they did).

Vancouver

Figure out the Sami Salo situation

Chances are, the Canucks wish that Sami would act on his urges to retire. Otherwise they have a problem on their hands, as the injury-prone defenseman isn’t a significant enough improvement to be worth all the trouble.

Stay the course

Vancouver is a clear contender for the Cup, considering the fact that they are the top team in the NHL right now. So they don’t need to make a bold trade to bolster their roster, but maybe a slight tweak might be the best thing to do.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.