Calgary’s ‘top guys aren’t getting it done,’ according to Brian Burke


The Calgary Flames added some key pieces to their roster during the off-season in hopes of returning to the playoffs.

The Flames tried stabilizing their goaltending situation by acquiring Brian Elliott from St. Louis and they added a power forward in free agency when they signed Troy Brouwer. The fact that they were able to sign Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau to extensions could only be seen as a good thing.

Unfortunately for them, the numbers haven’t been pretty so far this season.

According to their president of hockey operations, Brian Burke, one of the glaring issues with this team is that their best players aren’t performing well enough.

“Our top guys aren’t getting it done,” Burke told Sportsnet radio 960. “I’m not one for calling players out or naming names, but our top guys are not playing up to their level. Early in the season you can point to new coach, new systems, (Gaudreau) and (Monahan) both missed training camp. Those were all legitimate reasons for a slow start, they’re not legitimate reasons now. 15 games in or 14 games in, whatever it is, those are excuses now.”

As Burke mentioned, both his young stars missed training and it could be a contributing factor to their slow start.

After scoring 30 goals and 78 points last season, Gaudreau has just two goals, six assists and a minus-11 rating in 14 games. Monahan, who had 27 goals and 63 points in 15-16, has four goals, one assist and a minus-10 rating this year.

“Obviously, you’ve got guys entering into new contracts, new postal codes in terms of money and I think that’s very common in my experience,” added Burke.

“I’ve seen this happen probably 50 times in that time, where you give a player a new contract so he has 70 points the year before and he thinks in his mind ‘now I have to get 90 points.'”

There’s no doubt that the Flames need those two players to break out of their funks if they’re going to turn things around.

Calgary has lost four of their last five contests with Monahan and Gaudreau contributing just two assists during that stretch.

The Flames will have a couple of days off before they take on the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. Calgary will enter that game with a 5-8-1 record.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.