Best and worst sweaters of all-time: Calgary Flames

For our final team of the “Best and worst sweaters of all-time” series we head to the great  white north of Calgary where the Flames may not have originated there, but they’ve adopted a look and a name and made it their own.

Best: Perhaps the best sign of the greatness of a single sweater is when it’s brought back from the dead for special occasions and then ultimately becomes the team’s new third jersey. Such is the case for the best Flames sweater of all-time, their original road sweater when the team moved to Calgary. It’s red and, perhaps for some, eye aggravatingly so. With the yellow and white stripes around the sleeves and waist and the letter “C” on fire for the logo it’s got a single beauty all its own.

Seeing the likes of Joe Nieuwendyk, Al MacInnis, Theo Fleury, and Lanny McDonald all sport this look when the team won the 1989 Stanley Cup helped make it even more legendary than it is, but it’s never a bad thing to see the old look brought back so current Flames legend Jarome Iginla can get some glory out of it as well.

Worst: I honestly debated over which of two sweaters the Flames have worn in their history are their absolute worst. While one was a poorly striped modernized version of their old home and away set, I had to lean on the team’s original third sweater as their worst. Going from a bright red sweater to a black one with a new and bizarre horse head logo on the front is one that still makes me shake my head. The Flames’ flaming letter “C” is an incredibly easy and familiar logo, adopting a new look that takes Calgary’s pride in being a rodeo town and putting a flame-breathing horse on the front is just so strange.

I’m not sure if it’s so bad honestly, but with how the team and the city rally around the color red, jumping on the bandwagon for a black alternate was just predictable and ultimately lame. At least the horse head got to live on a little while longer as the shoulder patch on a newer and updated version of the Flames’ uniform.

Sherman’s march to Canada?: Calgary wasn’t a town that had anything to do with fire, but the team moved to Canada from Atlanta. The Flames name came about thanks to General Sherman burning the city down during the Civil War. Much like the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers, the team nickname has absolutely nothing at all to do with its current home city. Their look in Atlanta, however, was a thing of beauty and one the team was easily able to recreate for being in Calgary. The “flaming A” of Atlanta soon became part of the Flames uniforms as the “A” on the sweaters of team alternate captains.

Assessment: The Flames’ current sweaters are fantastic. The bold flaming “C” adorns all three of their sweaters, and with the flags of Alberta and Canada being on the shoulders of both the home and away sweaters, it’s a proud way for the Flames to stake a claim on their Canadian home. Using the throwback sweater from the 80s as their third is a great touch for the team, but they can’t go wrong with either of their standard sweaters. It’s a stellar look for a team with a proud fan base.

Ducks deny rally, end Penguins’ winning streak

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When Ondrej Kase cashed in on another breakaway opportunity for the Ducks to make it 4-1 in the second period, it looked like that goal would be icing on the cake for Anaheim. Even if it would be especially pretty frosting.

Instead, that stylish goal ended up being critical, as the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly rallied in the third period to at least send Wednesday’s game to overtime. John Gibson ended up holding down the fort, and with an empty-netter in the dying seconds, the Ducks ended up beating the Penguins 5-3.

You could call it a game of periods and close calls.

The Penguins entered the first intermission thanks to a 1-0 Evgeni Malkin goal, but the Ducks dominated the middle frame with their first four-goal period of 2017-18. The Penguins’ prolific power play helped them stay in the game (2-for-4, with both goals coming during that third-period comeback bid), but the rally fell short. Pittsburgh’s winning streak ended at four victories.

Some bounces went both ways, as Antoine Vermette nearly scored for the Ducks while Carl Hagelin suffered a near-miss. So maybe those missed opportunities cancel each other out?

From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the latest argument in favor of this team being a threat now that key pieces have returned to the lineup. This win begins what they hope is a successful five-game homestand, as Anaheim still needs to battle for its own playoff hopes.

The Penguins can’t ruminate on this loss for very long. They head to Los Angeles to face what must be a frustrated Kings team (four straight defeats, only two wins in their last eight games) on Thursday, with little reason to expect any mercy.

This last stretch of wins improved the Penguins’ outlook, but dropping games in back-to-back nights could make things tense again in a hurry. You can check out that Penguins – Kings game on NBCSN Thursday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Willie O’Ree celebrates 60th anniversary of debut with Bruins

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BOSTON (AP) Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL’s color barrier.

At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018 to be “Willie O’Ree Day”. O’Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.

Walsh called O’Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better and thanked him for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O’Ree Rink.

A native of Canada, O’Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.

For the past two decades, O’Ree has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.

More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Bruins cruise vs. Canadiens in Julien’s return to Boston

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Don’t blame Claude Julien if Wednesday made him think of better times, and not just because it was his welcome back night in Boston.

Coming into this one, it was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions, and the teams stuck to their scripts. The Boston Bruins remain red-hot with a 4-1 win, while the Montreal Canadiens are mired in mediocrity .. or worse?

When you’re as disappointing as the Canadiens have been, plenty of things are going wrong. It was a weak start even with a 1-0 lead and 1-1 first period in mind, and it obviously didn’t get any better.

Nights like these have to sting for Julien, a coach known for his sophisticated systems and eye for defensive detail.

There are questions about Max Pacioretty possibly being trade bait. People wonder if Jonathan Drouin or Alex Galchenyuk fit as centers, or if neither work that way. Yet, these performances make you realize that as exasperated as management must be, they may also appreciate more specific distractions.

Because, frankly, this was a team … non-effort.

Then again, the Bruins are a red-hot squad, so maybe they shine an especially harsh light on the Habs’ haplessness?

Boston generated a 32-22 shots on goal advantage in this one, with multiple contributors stepping up. Big guns came through (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were among the goal scorers, Patrice Bergeron collected two assists), while David Backes and others added to the fun.

It was the kind of effort Julien would have been very happy with, if it didn’t come at his expense.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

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PROJECTED LINEUPS

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Derek GrantRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: John Gibson