Jarome Iginla

It’s never too early to fire up the “Should Calgary Trade Iginla?” debate

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At 4-5-1, the Calgary Flames have started yet another season in mediocre fashion. (Stop us if you’ve heard this before.) They’re not terrible, but they’re not great. They won’t lose to the bad teams, but won’t beat the good ones.

Nowhere was this more evident than last night at the Saddledome, where the defending Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks came in and whipped the Flames 5-1 — a loss that got Sportsnet columnist Mark Spector thinking about the future of Jarome Iginla.

“Calgary is in 14th place in the West, which isn’t a big deal this early in the season,” Spector writes. “But they are a slow-footed team in an ever-quickening league. If [GM Jay] Feaster is going to hang on to Iginla, Kiprusoff, Giordano, plus his draft picks and decent prospects, we challenge you to look down Calgary’s roster for names that could return valuable pieces to Feaster’s project.”

The what-to-do-with-Jarome discussion is now an annual rite of passage in Calgary. The Flames haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 and some believe that without a full-scale rebuild (which almost certainly involves trading Iginla), they won’t be back anytime soon.

But having the conversation 10 games into the season? Even by Calgarian standards, that’s pretty early.

Not that it’s without reason. Feaster’s coming up on the one-year anniversary of taking Calgary’s GM gig. When people look back at his first year on the job, they’ll see a guy whose biggest additions to a non-playoff team were Chris Butler and Scott Hannan. In short, someone that’s not about making big changes.

Which bring us to Spector’s big point — at age 34, the last thing Iginla needs is a stubborn GM. If Feaster gets bull-headed (or, even more bull-headed) about retaining his veteran core, Iggy could miss out on a variety of opportunities: Moving to a contender, playing in a big market, linking up with one of his many former Team Canada teammates. Not that he’s explicitly expressed a desire to do so — you’d just think he’d like to have the option made available (before he’s too old to capitalize on it).

Last year, the Iginla-to-L.A. rumors were all over the place. This year, you’d have to think at least a couple of other suitors are in the mix.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.