James O'Brien

Karri Ramo
AP

Flame on: Calgary dispatches Dallas for seventh straight win

1 Comment

Remember all of that stuff about the Edmonton Oilers being on a stunning winning streak, one that got them into playoff position?

Much of it applies to their blood rivals the Calgary Flames, only they might be doing it a touch better.

For one thing, their winning streak is already longer. They’re now at seven straight victories – a perfect record in December –  and they’re now the ones who are seated in the third spot in the putrid (but maybe fascinating?) Pacific.

Something of a statement vs. the Stars?

They’ve shadowed the Oilers in winning a lot of close games, including four beyond regulation, but Thursday’s win stands out as one of their most promising victories yet.

They beat the Dallas Stars, aka the NHL’s top team, by a score of 3-1. They didn’t even always look outmatched, although they absolutely leaned on Karri Ramo (who made 35 out of 36 saves).

The cherry on top: it’s actually the second time they beat the Stars during this stretch, as they opened December with a 4-3 shootout win in Calgary.

Much like those pesky Oilers, the Flames still have plenty to prove. Still, the Pacific’s so wide-open that one of those Alberta rivals might just prove themselves enough to make the playoffs.

Yeah, things aren’t looking great for the Habs right now

Michel Therrien
AP
7 Comments

Blame Carey Price‘s injury, regression or any number of factors, but the Montreal Canadiens are struggling … and it could get awfully messy to end 2015.

Montreal dropped a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, a defeat that can at least partially be chalked up to a great performance by Jonathan Quick.

It was nearly historic:

Even so, Montreal’s hurting in more ways than one. They’ve now lost six of seen games are are just 2-6-1 in their past nine contests.

Have they always been lousy? No, but it sort of feels like they’re paying for earlier bounces, maybe even with interest.

If Canadiens fans hope for a light at the end of the tunnel, the truth is that it seems pretty far off into the distance right now. Montreal begins a harrowing eight-game road trip on Saturday, a run that ends in Philadelphia on Jan. 5.

When Price went down and things were going smoothly, it all felt like a valuable test for a team that was on an absolute roll. Now they’ll truly be tested, even if they get key players back along the way.

 

Blamed by Boudreau: Ducks’ best players take some heat

AP
7 Comments

With a pathetic 55 goals for in 30 games, the Anaheim Ducks are easily the lowest-scoring team in the NHL.

It’s staggering to consider that this could happen, even if Ryan Getzlaf did go under the knife early in the 2015-16 season. And even if the bounces have been especially cruel to the Ducks.

Some might call it throwing them under the bus; others may lean more toward “sending a message” (or even just honesty amid frustration). Either way, Bruce Boudreau acknowledged Anaheim’s scoring troubles after a troubling 3-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Getzlaf is aware of the criticism … and it’s definitely out there.

One can understand Boudreau’s frustration, yet sometimes those speak-your-mind moments precede a coaching change.

(Heck, Boudreau merely needs to look at Paul MacLean and his mustache to see how a frank moment can leave you shake, shaking it off into the sunset.)

At the same time, one cannot help but wonder: what can Boudreau do, and would a coaching change really help? It sure feels like something has to give soon …

Urgent emergency? Sabres blank desperate Ducks

9 Comments

Break out your sad/angry Bruce Boudreau photos, as Thursday was another brutal night for the Anaheim Ducks.

Despite talk of a sense of urgency, the Ducks continue to waddle their way through mediocrity, suffering a 3-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

They’ve lost their last two games by a combined score of 8-1, a situation that’s only more frustrating when you consider their strangely blank December schedule (just five games so far this month and just three since Dec. 6).

This seemed to carry some of the beats of a typical Ducks loss in 2015-16.

Yes, there was some effort there, with a high shot total and flashes of brilliance. Just not enough. Ryan Getzlaf also failed to generate the offense fans were once accustomed to seeing. Fair or not, it largely felt like a flop.

It seems like a really unpleasant brew of bad luck and bad play. And one cannot help but wonder if Bruce Boudreau’s days are once again numbered, even as he hit a milestone tonight.

This game began a four-game road trip and seven of eight contests away from home for Anaheim. The #DucksRoadTrip thread could get dark fast at this pace.

Their schedule is pretty home-heavy to start 2016 … but what kind of shape will this team be in by then?

Scary sight: Antti Raanta takes slap shot to mask

9 Comments

Even with increasingly impressive padding, being a goalie is a dangerous job.

Thursday provided a frightening example of the risks involved, as Antti Raanta took a downright scary slap shot to the mask and headed toward the New York Rangers locker room.

You can watch it happen with multiple angles in the video above. Here’s that unsettling moment in GIF form as well:

His condition is currently unclear, although he took some time to leave the ice.

PHT will provide more information when it is made available.

Update: He won’t return to the game, which isn’t a big surprise.