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.


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.


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 …


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.



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).


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.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?