Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Man In The Iron Mask

April 18, 2010
Stanley Cup Playoffs
Colorado Avalanche vs San Jose Sharks

Both teams were held scoreless throughout regulation, and in the first minutes of OT Ryan O' Reilly scored the only goal of the game for Colorado. But the real story of the night was the specatcular 51 saves made by Craig Anderson. Needless to say, Anderson received a standing ovation that night.

Click HERE to see the video

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week 3 Report Card - Calgary Flames

Teacher's Notes:

-Team played 4 games this week, 3 of them on the road. They played exceptionally well each time, winning 3 of 4 games.
-Rookie Mikael Backlund played his first breakout game against Detroit, scoring 2 goals in the first period. In other games he showed leadership and displayed extra effort, increasing his SOG average per game.
-Rene Bourque, just recently back on the ice after suffering a minor injury, is this week's star player, recording 6 goals in 3 games.
-Henrik Karlsson made his team debut and proved to be a worthy backup for Mikka Kiprusoff. His presence in net was large and only allowed 2 goals in 22 shots.
-Mikka Kiprusoff reached his 35th and 36th career shutouts this week and showed no sign of slowing down.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stock It To 'Em

January 5, 2002
Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals

PJ Stock and Stephen Peat get involved in a brawl deemed hockey's best fight ever, with each player landing over 20 hard shots on the other. After the fight was broken up, Stock skated away while giving his signature post-brawl wave to the hysterical crowd.

Click HERE to see the video

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sidney Crosby Saves The Day

April 16, 2010
Stanley Cup Playoffs
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators

After scoring one goal and assisting another, Sidney Crosby topped off the night by lending a hand to Marc-Andre Fleury, stopping a goal from going into the Penguins' net while the Fleury was otherwise occupeid.

Click HERE to see the video

The Crumbling Canucks

Last night, the struggling Vancouver Canucks travelled to Minnesota to go head to head with the Wild. It looked promising for the Canadian team in the first few minutes of the game when Daniel Sedin fired a puck right past Minnesota's Cory Schneider. But Vancouver's lead lasted less than 5 minutes, when during a Minnesota powerplay, Wild defenceman Marek Zidlicky pushed the puck past Roberto Luongo. The remainder of the period saw the Wild score twice more, bringing the scoreboard to 3-1.
And it just got worse for the Canucks. Luongo allowed another 3 goals in the second, all less than 5 minutes apart from each other. And halfway into the second, Rick Rypien created the biggest buzz of the night.
Frustrated after earning himself a 10-minute game misconduct for fighting with Brad Staubitz, Rypien stormed off ice, shoving an official in the process. As he made his way down the tunnel, an overzealous Wild fan leaned over the barrier, clapping and cheering. Rypien would have none of it, and responded by grabbing the fan by the collar of his jersey and roughing him up for a few seconds before a Canucks teammate pulled him away.
Needless to say, Rypien did not return for the remainder of the game.
In a last-ditch effort, Daniel Sedin scored a powerplay goal in the third, to bring the final score to 6-2 Minnesota.
As for Rypien, he is suspended indefinately until his hearing on Friday, Oct. 22. It is speculated that he will receive a minimum 5, maximum 10 game suspension for his actions. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to appear at the hearing.
The Vancouver Canucks have only won 2 of their 6 regular season games so far, and are sitting at 10th in the Western Conference, a far cry from their projected standing of 1st in the West, as predicted by TSN prior to the start of the regular season.

Vancouver Canucks vs Minnesota Wild, Tuesday Oct. 19 2010

HERE to see a video of the altercation between Rick Rypien and the Minnesota fan

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 2 Report Card - Calgary Flames

Teacher's Notes:

-Team started the week off on a bad note; defense just wasn't there and players were not keeping traffic up in front of the opponent's net.
-Mikka Kiprusoff was not at his best during the first game but improved his goaltending during the second, making 27 crucial saves.
-Brendan Morrison and Alex Tanguay once again were playing to prove their worth to the team, both contributing goals and assists in the game against Edmonton.
-Captain Jarome Iginla needs to lessen the pressure he is putting on himself and allow himself to just play. Too much thinking is affecting his positive impact on the game.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Banishing The Devils

In every matchup the Pittsburgh Penguins faced against the New Jersey Devils last season, the defending Stanley Cup champions couldn't seem to win one.
And though they had played two games already at the start of the new season, the Penguins were held winless against the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers.
It was time to turn things around this Monday, Oct. 11 when the Pens travelled to New Jersey to once again attempt to take down Martin Brodeur and his Devils.
The majority of the first period went by uneventfully, with no scoring on either end of the ice. But just over a minute left in the period, Alex Goligoski managed to slap the puck past Brodeur, giving the Pens the first lead of the game.
As a result of a penalty on New Jersey, Mark Letetsu (who was a key player in the previous game against the Habs) scored on the power play to increase the lead to 2. Kris Letang and former Devil Paul Martin assisted in the goal.
Halfway through the third, Devils' left winger Patrik Elias cut the lead in half with a snapshot that whizzed right by the Penguins' backup goalie Brent Johnson.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the game, the Devils pulled Brodeur to heighten the chances of tieing up the scoreboard. But in the last few seconds remaining, Paul Martin managed to take the puck and bury it into the empty net, taking the final score to 3-1 Pittsburgh.
It was a much-needed win for the Penguins, who lacked the momentum to start strong in the season. Their first 2 games played in the brand-new Consol Energy Center resulted in tough losses to their cross-state rivals and to the team who bounced them out of the playoffs last season.
Part of the reason for Pittsburgh's shaky start may be the fact that veteran players Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Sergei Gonchar have all left to play for other teams, and defenceman Jordan Staal is still out with a foot injury.
Pittsburgh will have their next chance at climbing higher in the standings on Wednesday, Oct. 13 when they face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New Jersey Devils, October 11 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 1 Report Card - Calgary Flames

Teacher's Notes:

-Team started off the season with lackluster playing, need to improve in the areas of speed and aggresiveness
-Goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff appeared to be shaky in the first game, though his goaltending is not expected to be a problem for the remainder of the season, as he often demonstrates saves that make him one of the number one players in the team
-Second game proved to be better but the team still did not play as fast and hard as they should at the beginning of the season
-Newly signed Brendan Morrison is working hard to show that he is a good addition to the team and is on his way to achieving this with 2 assists in his first game as a Flame

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Preseason Report Card - Calgary Flames

Teacher's Notes:

-Much improvement over the summer.
-The team has noticeably put more effort into their playing and are obviously working hard to build chemistry between linemates.
-The (re)acquisition of Alex Tanguay proved to be a smart decision on Darryl Sutter's end, as he has been a big difference maker in the preseason.
-Rookie Mikael Backlund is showing great promise as he is geared to replace Matt Stajan on the permanent roster. Would like to see him work on his stamina on the ice.
-Backup goalie Henrik Karlsson needs to quicken his movements and stay more alert when in net.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Young Flames Fired Up

Just weeks before the start of the NHL regular season, rookies vying for a spot on the Calgary Flames roster decided to show the club just exactly why they were ready to make it in the big league.
Unlike some of the Edmonton Oilers youngsters who are participating in the Young Stars rookie camp tournament, the players on the Calgary team remain relatively unknown. But during yesterday's game against the Anaheim Ducks' rookie team, you would have guessed the roster was packed full of seasoned all-stars.
Playing their first game of the tournament, the Flames got off to a great start, dominating the Ducks with a final score of 8-4.
It was an action-packed game from the beginning, with the first half seeing equal effort put in by both teams. The Ducks' Jon Kurtz set the score in the first 5 minutes, burying a fast one right past Flames' goalie Matt Keetley. It wasn't until 15 minutes later that the Flames' Jon Rheault was able to tie up the scoreboard, with an assist from Mikael Backlund.
Bryan Cameron followed up the late goal with another one of his own, but with only a few seconds left in the first period, the Ducks rallied to tie it once again.
The second period was a little more one-sided than the first. Jon Rheault, quickly making a name for himself as a potential NHL Flame, shot an unassisted goal past Ducks goalie Marco Cousineau but seconds later was answered by the Ducks' Devante Smith-Pelly.
With the period half over, Mikael Backlund and Carter Bancks furthered the lead to 5-3 for the Flames.
It was all fire for the Flames in the third, as Rheault managed to pull off a hat trick, the first in the entire tournament, accompanied by goals from Josh Meyers and Keith Seabrook. Sitting comfortably with 8 goals, the Canadian rookies didn't sweat too much when, in the final seconds of the game, the Ducks' Jack Carrick put in a last-ditch effort, sliding the puck past an unexpecting Keetley.
The end result was a scoreboard that read 8-4 in favour of the Flames, and riding high on the win, the team is set to face the likes of much talked-about Edmonton Oilers draft picks Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.
With limited cap space remaining in Calgary, no doubt the young Flames will put on a show just as impressive, to show Sutter and the gang who really deserves to be skating with the big boys in this upcoming season.

Mikael Backlund was one of the breakout rookies from the Abbotsford Heat who was called up to the Flames several times last season. Backlund reeled in one goal and one assist during last night's game.

Friday, September 3, 2010

QUICKLINES September 1 - September 7

Jordan Staal will miss the first half of the Penguins' training camp due to a foot infection resulting from the laceration he received early in the 2009-2010 postseason playoff round against the Montreal Canadiens. Despite this, the team expects Staal to be fully recovered in time for the upcoming regular season.

Newlywed Mike Comrie has signed a one-year, $500, 000 deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 29-year old left wing center joins a roster that has just recently lost veteran player Bill Guerin, and will be a strong addition to the team, considering that defenceman Jordan Staal is also out for the time being.

Marc Savard's lawyer is threatening legal action against the NHL if the board goes through with the intention of looking into Savard's 7-year deal with the Boston Bruins. Savard's lawyer states that considering that the severe injury he sustained late last season has decreased his value as a player, making Savard a free agent would drastically hurt his playing career. No word has been released as to whether the NHL will continue with the intended examination of the contract.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Let's Take It Outside

A long-awaited outdoor hockey game has finally been scheduled in Canada for the NHL. 8 years after the very first Heritage Classic was played in Edmonton by the Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens, the first nation of hockey can once again enjoy the thrill of watching an NHL game outdoors, not to mention the vicious wind and bitter cold that come along with Calgary's notorious winters.
That's right. The 2011 Heritage Classic will be held at Calgary's McMahon Stadium on February 20th, where the Montreal Canadiens get their second chance at the epic outdoor game, this time against the Calgary Flames.
There's no question that the city of Calgary is ecstatic to host the event, which originated in Canada and had been played every single year after its debut, just never in Canada. But many are questioning the timing and the teams involved.
It seems unfair to the hockey fans of Vancouver, Ottowa or Toronto that the Montreal Canadiens get a second crack at the Classic. And given the hype that usually comes with the game, people are wondering why the NHL didn't choose two teams with a more storied rivalry.
It would make more sense to pit the Flames against the Canucks, or the Canadiens against the Maple Leafs. And while the Flames are well-deserving of the honour of hosting the game, the winters in the city are among the worst in Canada. Fans in attendance will need to be prepared to sit in the stands for 2 hours in weather that could be well into the minus 30s.
Still, there is no shortage of excitement among Flames and Habs fans, and there is no doubt that even in the dead of winter, the streets of Calgary will be packed with a party come February 20th.

The Montreal Canadiens' Josh Gorges and the Calgary Flames' Steve Staios were present at McMahon Stadium for the official announcement of the 2011 Heritage Classic on Wednesday, August 4th.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Caught Between Laraque And A Hard Place

Big Georges Laraque. There was a time when the name sent shivers down any NHL players back, the prospect of dropping the gloves on the ice against the 6'3 forward being a terrifying one. Known as BGL or The Enforcer, Laraque forged a formidable career for himself as muscle for any team he played for.
Well, currrently, he's not playing for any team.
Earlier on in the year, the Montreal Canadiens, for whom Laraque wore the number 17, announced their plans to buy out the final season of his contract, with the added note for Laraque to stay away from the team.
Though a specific reason was not cited by either the team or Laraque, it was clear that there was bad blood between BGL and his latest club.
In 2008, the Habs signed Laraque in order to add an element of toughness to their perceived "soft" team. It was a good acquisition; Laraque had just recently been named Enforcer of the Year by Sports Illustrated.
But maybe something was missing between the easygoing Big George and his fellow Canadiens. Maybe it was chemistry, or maybe it was just a plain lack of respect between Laraque and the management.
But both statements released by Laraque and Habs general manager Bob Gainey following the announcement were scathing. Gainey said that Laraques was "unproductive, a distraction," and that the team could better pursue its goals without him.
In turn, Laraque called the team's actions "classless," which many BGL fans agreed with, given the timing of all the controversy. Laraque's native Haiti had just been devastated by one of the worst earthquakes of the century, and he was in the midst of making arrangements to fly to his home country to lend support when the announcement was officially made.
It was a risky move for the Canadiens, who were constantly being outplayed physically by their more aggressive opponents, and though Laraque wasn't making big differences offensively with the team, his on-ice presence was still a fearsome one.
Since he and the Canadiens have severed their ties, Laraque has been busy trying to make a difference in Haiti. On June 8th, Laraque traveled with World Vision to Haiti to visit some of the sites and raise money to help rebuild the country. Aside from his charitable endeavors, Laraque runs a vegan restaurant in Montreal called Crudessence, and owns two gyms in Edmonton, the city that he began his hockey career in.
Laraque has not specified whether he will be returning to the NHL after his bought-out season with the Canadiens comes to an end, and there is no speculation as to what team he might end up with.
As a free agent, Laraque shouldn't have a hard time finding a team who looking to add a bit of grit to their game, among them being the Toronto Maple Leafs and the team that first drafted him, back in 1995, the Edmonton Oilers.

Laraque is known around the league for his fun-loving attitude and his tendency to fight on the ice.

Click HERE to see a YouTube compilation of Laraque's hardest-hitting fights.

***On July 31, 2010 Laraque was elected deputy leader of Canada's Green Party, of which he was an active member for the last few years***

Keeping The Fire Alive: A Look Back At Calgary's Love Affair With Jarome Iginla

Calgary is Jarome Iginla's city.

The Flames captain, who has played his entire NHL career with the team, has become Calgary's unofficial hero since he made his debut as an 18-year old right-winger, thrust into the spotlight in the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. As the youngest player to skate for the Flames since 1983, Iginla made a shining impression on the city of Calgary, and 14 years later, he continues to shine in the eyes of Calgarians. Iginla is a homegrown Albertan boy, born to a Nigerian father and an American mother. It was the success of his hometown team,the Edmonton Oilers, that drove the youngster to pursue his dreams of becoming an NHL superstar. He began playing hockey as a goaltender, inspired by the Oilers' black goalie Grant Fuhr. But for the emerging leader in the young Iginla, minding the net was simply not exciting enough. He switched to the forward position after 2 years. In 1992, Iginla began his organized hockey career in the small town of St. Albert, Alberta, where he led the Alberta Midget Hockey League in scoring. As a 15-year old, he wowed scouts with an impressive 87-point season.

After 3 years with the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, Iginla was drafted first round, 11th overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars. In one quick trade, the Calgary Flames acquired their future most prized posession, and in the years to come, the Dallas Stars were left to wonder what their franchise could have been with Iginla on their side. The first couple of years as a Flame came with many ups and downs for Iginla. Among the highs were a spot on the NHL All-Star Rookie team, as well as becoming the runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy. The lows came in the form of contract complications. The Flames had not anticipated such success to come with the acquisition of the young player. Iginla had to make some sacrifices in order to remain on the roster, attending training camp without a contract and purchasing his own insurance to relieve the team of financial responsibility for any injuries that might occur. His sacrifices paid off. The following year, Iginla signed a contract with the Flames worth $4.9 million US, and reached his career high with 29 goals and 63 points. Iginla's reputation was on the rise in Calgary. The following 2 seasons saw him top each previous career high . By 2002 he nearly doubled his goal output and was awarded both the Lester B. Pearson Award and the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. It was also the year Iginla truly wielded the Midas touch, winning gold as a part of Team Canada at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Following this outstanding year, the club decided to bestow upon Iginla the team captaincy. And he didn't disappoint. Almost 6 years before, he had donned a Flames jersey for the first time and skated with the team during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Now with the prestigious "C" stitched over his heart, Iginla took it a little further, leading the Flames all the way to the finals. The 2004 cup run engulfed the city in a Flames frenzy that hadn't been seen since 1989. Calgary's 17th Avenue became the famous "Red Mile", the street filled from end to end with swaying, screaming bodies clad in red. Though the Flames lost the Cup to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a nail-biting Game 7, their fans didn't relinquish their adoration for their brand new captain. In fact, 2004 was the year the people of Calgary began to see Jarome Iginla as their king; their saviour on skates.

Iginla and his Flames weren't able to match the success they enjoyed in 2004. The years ahead saw the team get eliminated either in the second or first round of the playoffs. Each season noticeably lacked the passion and intensity that was present in the earlier part of the decade. Despite this, Iginla remained loved. In 2009, his value to the city of Calgary was expressed melodically by a fan, who wrote a tribute to the Flames captain to the tune of the Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah." The VIDEO, which featured a bobblehead Iginla performing various acts of heroism around Calgary, went viral on YouTube. Unfortunately, the 2009-2010 season was not a good one for the Flames. They struggled throughout the season and went through many drastic changes within the roster. Flames fans began to worry that Iginla had lost his love for the game. He wasn't demonstrating the type of leadership he ought to as captain, and his goal production was decreasing every year. It was every Calgarian hockey lover's biggest fear: was the fire in Iginla's heart burning out?

In February 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia became the setting for the Olympic Winter Games. It came as no surprise that Iginla was named one of Team Canada's assistant captains, along with Chris Pronger and the NHL's poster child Sidney Crosby. From the very beginning, Iginla was explosive on the ice. During their first game against Norway, he contributed to the 8-0 win with a hat trick. And it was his ASSIST, delivered from the seat of his pants against the boards, that gave Crosby the opportunity to sweep the puck between Team USA's goalie Ryan Miller, winning the gold for the host country. Undoubtedly, Iginla shone at the Olympics. But his return to the NHL was less impressive. For the first time in 5 years, the Flames failed to place in the 2009-2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As the hockey season came to an end, panic began to ensue among Flames fans. There were rumours that Iginla was unhappy with his tenure with the team, or that he was to be traded, as the club's management was in desperate need of some change in order to strengthen the team. The rumour lingered for several months, and the inevitable question began to creep into Calgarians' minds: who could possibly replace Jarome Iginla as the Flames' beloved leader? The dreaded question was answered on May 26th bu the man himself. In a televised interview, Iginla assured his loyal fanbase that he intended to stay in Calgary for as long as the city would have him. Darryl Sutter seconded that by saying that he had never had any plans to trade off Calgary's favorite leading man.

At the age of 33, Jarome Iginla has lived his entire adult life as a Flame, a veritable hockey god to the city. He was born in the city of Edmonton, Calgary's greatest rival, whose team has so often faced off against the Flames in what has come to be called "The Battle of Alberta", but Iginla has shown that he is truly a Calgarian at heart. He has come oh-so-close to raising Lord Stanley but has never felt the satisfaction of bringing home hockey's most coveted trophy.

But, resilient as ever, Iginla expresses his optimism for the season ahead, and so do his devoted fans.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Flames Are A'changin'

The Calgary Flames may not have made any exciting picks during this year’s NHL Entry Draft (in fact, they made no picks at all until the third round), but that doesn’t mean that the club’s roster hasn’t been going through a makeover of its own. From the management at the top of the ladder to the team’s foot soldiers, the Flames are slowly revamping themselves in hopes of making the 2010-2011 season much better than the last.
The biggest splash made so far: Darryl Sutter’s decision to re-sign two former Flames, Ollie Jokinen and Alex Tanguay. Jokinen was traded off to the New York Rangers in exchange for right-winger Ales Kotalik in February and became a UFA at the end of the season. Flames fans were (and still are) skeptical of the decision, as both Tanguay and Jokinen’s goal production and play were unimpressive in the past year. But Sutter and the rest of the team stand by the decision, stating that their return will strengthen the team.
Other new additions to the roster are defensemen Gord Baldwin and Matt Pelech, forwards Tim Jackman, Raitis Ivanan, Gaelen Patterson, Ryan Stone and Kris Chucko, as well as goaltender Matt Keetley. The Flames’ former backup goalie Vesa Toskala gained UFA status at the beginning of the summer and is not returning to the Flames roster for the 2010-2011 season.
Former Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Jay Feaster, who oversaw the team when they beat the Flames in 2004 for the Stanley Cup Championship, has also signed on to lend his managerial expertise to the Flames. He has been named assistant general manager.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 NHL Awards Winners

Calder Trophy: Tyler Myers (Buffalo Sabres)
Selke Trophy: Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings)
Art Ross Trophy: Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)
Ted Lindsay Award: Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
Jack Adams Award: Dave Tippet (Phoenix Coyotes)
Vezina Trophy: Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres)
Masterton Memorial Trophy: Jose Theodore (Washington Capitals)
King Clancy Memorial Trophy: Shane Doan (Phoenix Coyotes)
Lady Byng Trophy: Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Mark Messier Leadership Award: Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Norris Trophy: Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks)
Hart Memorial Trophy: Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)

Henrik Sedin took home 2 awards at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas

Click HERE to see a hilarious skit involving Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks poking fun at the great rivalry between Team USA and Team Canada at the 2010 Olympic Games.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

QUICKLINES June 2 - June 27

Anaheim Ducks captain and 4-time Stanley Cup winner Scott Niedermayer has retired. The 36-year old Edmonton native officially hung up his jersey yesterday, June 22, after 18 seasons with the NHL. Niedermayer is the only player in the league who has won every major North American and international championship in his career, including the World Juniors, IIHF World Championships, 4 Stanley Cups, the World Cup and 2 Olympic gold medals. Next up for Niedermayer: a possible induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Evgeni Nabokov's future with the San Jose Sharks is uncertain for the first time in 10 years. It has been announced that the Sharks' starting goalie will not be coming back for the 2010-2011 season. Last season, Nabokov helped his team advance to the third round of playoffs, and his career 50 shutouts is the second highest among active goalies, just beneath the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur.
Also not returning to his team next season is Dustin Byfuglien, who was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for 24th overall draft pick Marty Reasoner. Byfuglien was one of the key contributers to the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory this year.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Halak Gets The Blues

Jaroslav Halak was arguably the key factor in the success of the Montreal Canadiens this past post-season. His goaltending contributed to the elimination of both the top-seeded Washington Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins. For a brief while, Halak's name even became synonymous with the word STOP, and sports stores all over Montreal began selling stop signs printed with his name on it.
So you'd think the Habs, grateful for Halak's help in the 2009-2010 Cup run, would protect their greatest asset for the season to come. Clearly, that wasn't the case.
It was announced today that Jaroslav Halak was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forwards Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. Rumour has it that ever since their elimination by the Flyers, the Canadiens managing team barely kept in contact with their starting goalie, and Halak was informed of his trade via a phone call from head coach Jacques Martin.
Habs fans are understandably outraged, as they credited Halak with the team's playoff success. But this isn't the first time the Montreal franchise has given a player the cold shoulder with little or no explanation. Earlier in the year, the team bought out forward George Laraque's contract and asked him to stay away from the team until the end of the contract. Laraque was officially let go from the team on June 15, 2010.
As for Halak's departure from the Canadiens, most see it as a mistake on the part of the team. While Lars Eller has shown some potential to be beneficial to the Habs, the loss of Halak will most likely injure the team rather than strengthen it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oh Captain, Our Captain

Since their failure to make the playoffs for the 2009-2010 season, rumours of a trade swirled around the Calgary Flames team captain Jarome Iginla. Iginla's less than stellar performance during the regular season, and the noticeable lack of passion in the way he played, sparked gossip that Calgary's local hockey hero had had enough of the Flames, and that the Flames had had enough of him.
But on May 26, the team's president and CEO Ken King made an announcement that quelched the rumours once and for all, assuring fans and media that Iginla will return next season with a Flames jersey on his back.
Iginla,who made his NHL debut at the age of 18, has played his entire career with the Calgary Flames, and has always made it clear that he has no desire to leave the team, despite recent struggles in both the regular seasons and the post-seasons.
For Flames fans, the idea of losing Iginla was heart-wrenching. In his tenure with the team, Iginla has become a larger-than-life presence for the Flames, which only increased when he lead them to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004.
Luckily, Iginla's future with the Flames has been secured and the city of Calgary can breathe easy knowing good ol' Iggy isn't going anywhere for a long time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hawks Win Fight, Take Flight

The 2009-2010 post-season has been anything but dull, full of shocking eliminations, incredible goalie record-breakers and Game 7 heroics. And on June 9th, the end was just as much of a nail-biter as the beginning.
For the first time since 1961 the Chicago Blackhawks can call themselves the 2009-2010 Stanley Cup Champions. One of the top ranked teams during the regular season, the Blackhawks continued their determined path to Lord Stanley, making it through the playoffs with an unrelenting style of play. The Blackhawks went into Game 6 of the finals with a 3-2 lead on the persistent Philadelphia Flyers and finished them off in overtime.
Though the Blackhawks were the favorite to win the Cup, the Flyers put off a good fight, matching each Chicago goal with one of their own. Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Sharp and Andrew Ladd contributed goals in the first 3 periods, while Philadelphia's Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell kept their team caught up, with Hartnell scoring the last 2 goals.
But it was Patrick Kane who was the difference maker in this high-energy game, delivering a wrist shot less than 5 minutes into the overtime period to clich the title for the Blackhawks. Kane was also responsible for 2 of the 3 assists for the previous goals.
For Marian Hossa, winning the Cup has been long overdue. In the 2007-2008 season he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins and made it all the way to the finals, only to lose to the Red Wings. Determined to get his Stanley Cup ring, Hossa left the Penguins the following year to join the Chicago Blackhawks, only to watch his former team, led by Sidney Crosby, take the championship. And now, for the first time in his 13-year NHL career, the Slovakian right-winger has lifted the Cup.
Youngster Jonathan Toews, who already has an Olympic gold medal in his trophy case, can not only add the Stanley Cup Championship, but the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP as well. With this achievement, Toews becomes only the second NHL player to have won Olympic gold and a Stanley Cup in one year, after Patrick Roy.

Chicago Blackhawks vs Philadelphia Flyers, June 9 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Penguins and a Beatle

It was the house that Mario built, and home to many incredible hockey moments throughout the last 50 years. It was where the hockey fans of Pittsburgh first saw Sidney Crosby lace up his skates as part of the NHL, and where they saw him lift the 2009 Stanley Cup as the youngest captain ever to win the championships. But the last game played in Mellon Arena was not exactly one the Pittsburgh Penguins would like to remember. It was Game 7 of the Canadiens-Penguins series in round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the underdog Habs managed to win the game 5-2, much to the shock of the spectators at the arena, and pretty much everyone watching the game from all around the world.

But the opening of the Penguins' new home is showing much promise for the upcoming season. On August 18, former Beatle and world-renowned musician Paul McCartney is set to perform at the new CONSOL Energy Center for its official grand opening.

McCartney, whose first performance in Pittsburgh was all the way back in 1964 with the Beatles, has played at many historic venues around the world, including the Red Square in Moscow and outside the Coliseum in Rome, and to some Penguins fans, the new arena, the house that Sid built will be right up there with the likes of them.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Fourth One's A Charm

When it comes to NHL Draft talk, pretty much all you hear is Tyler Seguin this or Taylor Hall that, but there is another homegrown Canadian boy who is catching the interests of the NHL teams this season: Erik Gudbranson. The 18-year old defenceman from the Kingston Frontenacs is ranked fourth in the list of top prospects and is highly sought after by the likes of the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders.
At 6 feet 3 inches, Gudbranson is often compared to Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger, not just in size but in playing style.
A self-proclaimed "nice guy" in real life, Gudbranson leaves the niceties out of the rink, where hard hits and aggressive plays have helped him develop a reputation as a player who shouldn't be reckoned with.

Career Statistics:
Goals: 5
Assists: 40
Points: 45

Sunday, May 30, 2010

QUICKLINES May 30 - June 5

The Toronto Maple Leafs lose their chance at getting the number 1 pick for the 2010 NHL Draft, choosing instead to hand it over to the Edmonton Oilers in order to keep right winger Phil Kessel. As a result, the Oilers have their choice of either Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall to add to their team for the 2010-2011 season.
The Maple Leafs are not regretting their decision to turn over first pick to the Oilers. Leafs head coach Ron Wilson defends the choice by saying he is happy with the current roster, adding that the familiarity and presence of Phil Kessel would be more beneficial to the team than the addition of a new player.
Though the Leafs finished second to last in rankings in the 2009-2010 regular season, the team experienced a burst of new energy following the trade that sent Dion Phaneuf from Calgary to Toronto. The success of Phaneuf as a Leaf has prompted Wilson to name him team captain for the upcoming season.

Hockey legend and Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman has taken over Brian Lawton's position as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team's owner, Jeff Vinik, fired Lawton on April 12, following an embarrassing season for the team, who finished 25th in the league in 2009-2010. Head coach Rick Tocchet was also fired and the Lightning have yet to name a replacement.
Flames fans back in Calgary were disappointed when Yzerman took the position with Tampa Bay, quelching the rumours that he was to replace Darryl Sutter as the Flames GM.
Both Darryl and Brent Sutter were criticized for their choices during the 2010 trades, which sent Dion Phaneuf, Ollie Jokinen, Dustin Boyd and a few others packing, while acquiring most of their new players from the 28th ranked team in the league, the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is still some indecision within the Calgary franchise as to whether the Sutters will stay or go for the following season.

Back From A Much Needed Break

It's finally here: the Stanley Cup Finals. And this series is betweent the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks. As some may have noticed, I have not been active on this blog since the end of April. The reason being is that I needed a break from hockey, since my last hope for the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were eliminated in Game 7 in the series against the Montreal Canadiens. The 8th seed team, who had also eliminated the 1st seed Washington Capitals in the first round of the Playoffs, buried puck after puck past the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury, sealing the win.

Being a die-hard Flames and Pens fan, I became bitter about my luck this season. And so, I felt that by closing my eyes and plugging my ears to any hockey talk, I could slowly but surely recover from the sting of elimination.

But now, a month later, I am ready to return to the ice. Mainly because of the wonderful news Gary Bettman has delivered this past week.

Next season, Canada gets its very own Winter Classic, pitting the Calgary Flames against the Montreal Canadiens. And even better news: it will be played right here in Calgary, at the McMahon Stadium football field.
The USA's Winter Classic has the NHL's two biggest stars playing against each other on New Year's Day. Alexander Ovechkin and his Capitals will be travelling to Pittsburgh to do battle with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

The next season is already looking 10 times better than this one has been. Surely, the sting of being eliminated in the second round of the Playoffs will still be fresh with Crosby, and no doubt he will explode onto the ice with a bang come October.
And for the Calgary Flames, not making it into the Playoffs for the first time in 5 years is more than enough motivation to pick up their game.

I'm considerably cheered up as I look ahead to the next season of hockey to come. Are you?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Player Of The Post-Season - Jaroslav Halak

Jaroslav Halak, Montreal Canadiens
Round 1, Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Saves Against: 189
Goals Against: 13
Save Percentage: 93%

Playoff Schedule - Wednesday, April 28

Montreal Canadiens @ Washington Capitals
Canadiens 2 Capitals 1 FINAL

Playoff Schedule - Tuesday, April 27

Detroit Red Wings @ Phoenix Coyotes
Red Wings 6 Coyotes 1 FINAL

Playoff Schedule - Monday, April 26

Washington Capitals @ Montreal Canadiens
Canadiens 4 Capitals 1 FINAL

Buffalo Sabres @ Boston Bruins
Bruins 4 Sabres 3 FINAL

Chicago Blackhawks @ Nashville Predators
Blackhawks 5 Predators 3 FINAL

Playoff Schedule - Sunday, April 25

Phoenix Coyotes @ Detroit Red Wings
Coyotes 5 Red Wings 2 FINAL

Vancouver Canucks @ L.A. Kings
Canucks 4 Kings 2 FINAL

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Playoff Schedule - Saturday, April 24

Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks 1 pm
Blackhawks 5 Predators 4 FINAL OT

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators 5 pm
Penguins 4 Senators 3 FINAL OT

San Jose Sharks @ Colorado Avalanche 8 pm
Sharks 5 Avalanche 2 FINAL

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Playoff Schedule - Friday, April 23

Montreal Canadiens @ Washington Capitals 5 pm
Canadiens 2 Capitals 1 FINAL

Boston Bruins @ Buffalo Sabres 5 pm
Sabres 4 Bruins 1 FINAL

Los Angeles Kings @ Vancouver Canucks 8 pm
Canucks 7 Kings 2 FINAL

Detroit Red Wings @ Phoenix Coyotes 8 pm
Red Wings 4 Coyotes 1 FINAL

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Playoff Schedule - Thursday, April 22

Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils 5 pm
Flyers 3 Devils 0 FINAL

Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins 5 pm
Senators 4 Penguins 3 FINAL 3rd OT
Chicago Blackhawks @ Nashville Predators 6:30 pm
Blackhawks 3 Predators 0 FINAL

Colorado Avalanche @ San Jose Sharks 8:30 pm
Sharks 5 Avalanche 0 FINAL

Monday, April 19, 2010

Playoff Schedule - Wednesday, April 21

Washington Capitals @ Montreal Canadiens 5 pm
Capitals 6 Canadiens 3 FINAL

Buffalo Sabres @ Boston Bruins 5 pm
Bruins 3 Sabres 2 FINAL 2nd OT

Vancouver Canucks @ Los Angeles Kings 8 pm
Canucks 6 Kings 4 FINAL

Playoff Schedule - Tuesday, April 20

Phoenix Coyotes @ Detroit Red Wings 4:30 pm
Red Wings 3 Coyotes 0 FINAL

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators 7 pm
Penguins 7 Senators 4 FINAL

New Jersey Devils @ Philadelphia Flyers 5:30 pm
Flyers 4 Devils 1 FINAL

Chicago Blackhawks @ Nashville Predators 7 pm
Predators 4 Blackhawks 1 FINAL

San Jose Sharks @ Colorado Avalanche 8 pm
Sharks 2 Avalanche 1 FINAL

Playoff Schedule - Monday, April 19

Washington Capitals @ Montreal Canadiens 5 pm
Capitals 5 Canadiens 1 FINAL

Buffalo Sabres @ Boston Bruins 5 pm
Bruins 2 Sabres 1 FINAL

Vancouver Canucks @ Los Angeles Kings 8 pm
Kings 5 Canucks 3 FINAL

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Playoff Schedule - Sunday, April 18

Phoenix Coyotes @ Detroit Red Wings 1 pm
Coyotes 4 Red Wings 2 FINAL

New Jersey Devils @ Philadelphia Flyers 4 pm
Flyers 3 Devils 2 FINAL OT

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators 4:30 pm
Penguins 4 Senators 2 FINAL

Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks 6:30 pm
Blackhawks 2 Predators 0 FINAL

San Jose Sharks @ Colorado Avalanche 7:30 pm
Avalanche 1 Sharks 0 FINAL OT

Playoff Schedule - Saturday, April 17

Boston Bruins @ Buffalo Sabres 11 am
Bruins 5 Sabres 3 FINAL

Montreal Canadiens @ Washington Capitals 5 pm
Capitals 6 Canadiens 5 FINAL OT

Los Angeles Kings @ Vancouver Canucks 8 pm
Kings 3 Canucks 2 FINAL OT

Playoff Schedule - Friday, April 16

Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins 5 pm
Penguins 2 Senators 1 FINAL

Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils 5:30 pm
Devils 5 Flyers 3 FINAL

Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks 6:30 pm
Predators 4 Blackhawks 1

Detroit Red Wings @ Phoenix Coyotes 8 pm
Red Wings 7 Coyotes 4 FINAL

Colorado Avalanche @ San Jose Sharks 8:30 pm
Sharks 6 Avalanche 5 FINAL OT

Playoff Schedule - Thursday, April 15

Montreal Canadiens @ Washington Capitals 5 pm
Canadiens 3 Capitals 2 FINAL OT

Boston Bruins @ Buffalo Sabres 5 pm
Sabres 2 Bruins 1 FINAL

Los Angeles Kings @ Vancouver Canucks 8 pm
Canucks 3 Kings 2 FINAL OT

Playoff Schedule - Wednesday, April 14

Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins 5 pm
Senators 5 Penguins 4 FINAL

Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils 5:30 pm
Flyers 2 Devils 1 FINAL

Detroit Red Wings @ Phoenix Coyotes 8 pm
Coyotes 3 Red Wings 2 FINAL

Colorado Avalanche @ San Jose Sharks 8:30 pm
Avalanche 2 Sharks 1 FINAL

Monday, April 12, 2010


Sidney Crosby
Captain, Pittsburgh Penguins

2009-2010 Season:

51 Goals
58 Assists
109 Points


Gold Medal Winner, 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games
1st Place Winner, 2010 Rocket Richard Trophy
2nd Place Winner, 2010 Art Ross Trophy

Can`t Knock The Canucks

Not making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 7 years is already a sore subject with the Calgary Flames, but to add insult to injury, they were brutally beaten down by Western Conference rivals and fellow Canadian club the Vancouver Canucks at their last game of the regular season.
On Saturday, April 10 the Flames traveled to Vancouver to face off against the Canucks, who have easily earned the number 3 spot in the West. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, the Nucks scored 3 goals and were only answered by Niklas Hagman late into the period. In the second, Hagman cut the deficit in half by scoring his 25th goal of the season, but Ryan Kesler extended the Nucks`lead to 4-2 before the end of the period.
3 more goals by Daniel Sedin and Kevin Bieska propelled the Canucks to a surefire victory, despite Rene Bourque`s last minute goal towards the end of the third.
The game closed out with a final score of 7-3 in favour of the Canucks.
Talk about a bad season for the Calgary Flames. The team saw success only for a short time late in 2009, and began a tumultuous downward spiral at the beginning of the new year.
The club has acknowledged that big changes need to be made to their team, and have sparked speculation of the removal of big names like Sutter and Iginla, who have over the years become synonymous with the Flames.
So golf season has begun for the Calgary Flames, and all the team and their fans can do is enjoy the little break before worrying about the future of their franchise.

Calgary Flames vs Vancouver Canucks, April 10 2010

Rocket Man

Since the creation of the award in 1998, the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy has only been awarded in a tie situation once: a three-way tie between Ilya Kovalchuck, then-rookie Rick Nash, and Jarome Iginla, in 2004.
Well, until now, that is.
As the end of the regular season inched closer, the race for the Rocket was intense, with NHL superstars Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby neck in neck most of the way, and Steven Stamkos close on their heels.
And with all three in action on the ice on Sunday, April 11, the nail-biting competition got even more intense.
Going into the Sunday games, Ovechkin and Stamkos stood at 50 points, while Crosby came in with 49. But in the Capitals' shootout loss to the Boston Bruins, Ovechkin was held scoreless.
Crosby and Stamkos, on the other hand, exploded onto the ice with every intent of winning the trophy.
Crosby's 2 goals against the New York Islanders came late in the first and within the first minute of the second periods. In addition to the goals he pulled in 3 assists. For the first time in his NHL career Crosby passed the 50-goal mark, and landed at 51 by the end of the game.
Stamkos scored his 51st goal during the last minute of the Tampa Bay Lightning's game against the Florida Panthers, delivering a clean wrist shot right into an empty net.
Crosby amicably accepted the tie for the trophy, acknowledging that it's not easy scoring goals in the NHL, though some believe that Sidney should have been the sole winner, given the fact that Stamkos' empty netter was basically handed to him.
Crosby and Stamkos' trophy win broke Alex Ovechkin's Rocket winning streak. In 2008 Ovechkin led the league without any competition with 65 goals, and snagged the trophy once again in 2009 with 56 goals.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Honorable Mentions - Calgary Flames

Rene Bourque, Forward

2009-2010 Season:

26 Goals
31 Assists
51 Points

Mikael Backlund, Forward

2009-2010 Season

1 Goal
9 Assists
10 Points

*Note-Mikael Backlund played the majority of the 2009-2010 season in the AHL, with the Abbotsford Heat.

Sharks Dash Flames' Playoff Hopes

It was a do-or-die game for the Calgary Flames on April 6, 2010. With 3 games left in the regular season and trailing on the heels of the Colorado Avalanche, the desperate Flames needed to win against the San Jose Sharks in order to keep their playoff dreams alive.
The first period began well for the Flames, who played strong and consistently. Though halfway through the first, Rob Blake scored a powerplay goal that took them to a 1-0 lead, that was extended to 2-0 by Jaime McGinn in the second, the Flames outshot the Sharks 39-26.
Early in the third, Rene Bourque tipped in a powerplay goal to cut the deficit in half.
The calm and steady play by the Flames began to dissolve halfway through the second period, when the team's desperation began to show.
Despite their best efforts (though some critics would say the Flames were hardly trying) the San Jose Sharks closed out the third with a score of 2-1 in their favour.
Even with their loss to the Sharks, the Flames still had a chance at a playoff berth, depending on whether or not the Colorado Avalanche lost their matchup against the Vancouver Canucks. That game ended in a shootout, with the Avalanche's Matt Duchene scoring the winning goal for his team.
As a result of the Avs' victory, the Calgary Flames will not be heading into the NHL playoffs for the first time in 7 years.
The disappointment has led to speculation that beloved captain Jarome Iginla will be traded to a different club, as his performance this year with the Flames has been less than passionate. For die-hard Flames fans, this is devastating news, but it is very unlikely that Iginla, who has played with the Flames since he was 19, will leave Calgary.
For a team that has had relative success in the NHL within the last decade, not making the playoffs may seem like the end of the world, but once they, and their fans, get over the bitter loss, the next season should prove to be much better than the last.

Calgary Flames vs San Jose Sharks, April 6 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Explosive T and T

They are the top 2 prospects for the 2010 NHL Draft, and both Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall are tearing up the OHL, impressing everyone who is watching them.
Sitting on top of the Ontario Hockey League, Seguin and Hall are tied with 106 points. In goals, Hall comes up short, but in assists, it's Seguin who is falling behind. Nevertheless, it's a pleasure to watch both 18-year olds compete for the chance to lift the Memorial Cup at the end of the season.
Though the Barrie Colts, led by Stefan Della Rovere and Alex Pietrangelo, are enjoying top spot in the league with 116 points, Hall's Spitfires (Windsor) are ranked 1st in the Western Conference and Seguin's Plymouth Whalers are at 4th.
Much NHL attention is being paid to Taylor Hall, who shone in the 2010 IIHF Championships. But Seguin has suddenly become a strong contender for number 1 draft pick, with a playing style likened to Steve Yzerman. And with his emergence into the spotlight, the OHL has suddenly become a hotbed for exciting hockey.
Though so far in April, the Windsor Spitfires have beat the Plymouth Whalers in every game they have played against each other, Seguin looks to come out victorious in his next matchup against Hall on Wednesday, April 7.

Iggy In The Spotlight

Though he was a major contributor in the gold medal win for Team Canada in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Jarome Iginla is getting more negative scrutiny than positive as of late. The Calgary Flames captain, who scored a hat trick in one of the first Olympic hockey games and assisted Sidney Crosby's Golden Goal, is being thrown under the bus by Flames fans for his less-than-spectacular performance following the Olympics.
In his last 8 games Iginla has not scored a goal and has only banked 4 assists. Now rumours are swirling that Iggy has lost his touch and is no longer the asset to the Flames that he once was.
But is it fair for all the playoff pressure to be on #12?
Granted, Jarome Iginla is a hero in this town. A Calgarian who has 2 Olympic gold medals and 2 Rocket Richard trophies under his belt. The captain who led his team to the take the Western Conference title in 2004. Naturally, everyone is looking to him to be the hero once again.
But there are other Flames who should be shining and are not. It seems to me that the only ones really putting any effort into the playoff push are the newbies. And of course, Kiprusoff has been outstanding on several occasions.
A hockey game can't be won single-handedly, and in order to make it into the playoffs, a fire needs to be ignited in the whole team, and not just its captain.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Flicker of Hope

Calgary Flames fans can't decide whether to give up on their team or continue to push on. So far this month, the Flames have posted a record of 8 and 6, and each game's performance was either very good or very bad. Against hot teams like Detroit and New Jersey, the Flames dominated, but games like the one against the Boston Bruins on Saturday March 27th, they were beat to a pulp. A stoic Jarome Iginla told the NHL after the game that the Flames aren't done yet, and in the remaining games before the playoffs begin, the team is going to "run the table."
Previously battling it out with Detroit for the 8th and final playoff spot, the Flames watched the Red Wings soar up the ranks with several wins.
It seemed to be all over for Calgary following the embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Bruins, but the next day, against the top team in the league, the Flames pounded the Capitals. The final score: 5-3 in favour of the Flames. The first 4 goals were scored in the first period, 3 of them made by new Flames Ian White, Ales Kotalik and Niklas Hagman, the other put in by Jay Bouwmeester for good measure. The Capitals attempted to rally ahead by scoring 3 goals, but one last shot delivered by Rene Bourque ensured that the Flames remained victorious.
A win against Ovechkin and his Caps was a much needed boost of confidence for the slipping Flames, and with 6 games to go and 4 points behind the Colorado Avalanche, that boost needs to remain in order to keep the Flames' playoff hopes alive.

Calgary Flames vs Washington Capitals, March 28 2010

PLAYER OF THE WEEK - Steven Stamkos

Captain, Tampa Bay Lightning

In the last 5 games:
3 Goals
1 Assist
4 Points

Do You Be-Leaf?

Following a 7-game scoreless drought, Sidney Crosby exploded onto the ice and helped lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday March 28th.
The Penguins had lost 3 of their last 4 games, and despite some good effort made by the team, what they needed was a win to hold on to their 4th place rank in the eastern conference.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, on the other hand, have been on a hot streak of late. Though still sitting in last place in the east, the infusion of energy by youngsters like Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, the Leafs have won 4 out of their last 5 games.
The showdown in Toronto was not short of excitement, with no period idle. In the first, Colton Orr delivered a wristshot into the net, less than 5 minutes into play. Tyler Kennedy tallied up the score for the Pens halfway through the period.
Phil Kessel responded early in the second, but Toronto's lead was short lived. Within the span of 5 minutes, Pens captain Sidney Crosby scored back-to-back goals, assisted by Brooks Orpik. The goals couldn't have come at a better time, as Crosby hadn't scored in 7 previous games.
However, Toronto did not give up and pushed on to score another goal late in the second.
The third period saw goals by the Leafs' Tyler Bozak and the Pens' Matt Cooke. By the end of regulation, the scoreboard was sitting at 4-4, and it remained that way through overtime.
Leave it to the Kid to come through during a shootout.
Sid, along with Ruslan Fedotenko, snuck the pucks past J.S. Giguerre, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all of Toronto's shootout attempts.
Brooks Orpik, who expressed his frustration after losing two straight games to Washington and Detroit, was able to calm himself after his two assists, and Crosby's 3-goal night pushed him past Alexander Ovechkin for leading scorer in the league.
Crosby now holds 47 goals under his belt, to Ovechkin's 45, making him the current top contender for the Rocket Richard trophy.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Toronto Maple Leafs, March 28 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Injuries Galore

Has anyone noticed that ever since the NHL has decided to eliminate blindside hits, vicious hits have been popping up on the ice all across North America?
In fact, ever since Matt Cooke ended Marc Savard's season earlier this month, I've seen a lot more health-threatening injuries across the board.
On Sunday, March 21, Daymond Langkow was taken off the ice during a game against the Minnesota Wild in a stretcher. He was hit by Greg Zanon, and though it was a hit from the front and perfectly acceptable within NHL rules, the force of the hit caused Langkow to flip over and land on the ice awkwardly on his lower neck area. Langkow was taken to hospital and kept overnight.
During a match-up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Steve Downie pulled a slew-foot move that bent Sidney Crosby's leg out from behind him, resulting in a short absence from the ice for the Penguins' captain.
And who can forget the check James Wisniewski delivered on Brent Seabrook. Seabrook slumped to the ice so dramatically that it prompted rumours of embellishment. The rumours were squelched when it was discovered that Seabrook suffered a severe concussion and was not to return to the ice for the meantime.
So far, Wisniewski has received the harshest punishment of all the offenders: an 8-game suspension.
After the Marc Savard hit, several NHL players voiced their concerns over the subject of hard hits, and which ones should be deemed dirty or clean. Sidney Crosby, coming to the defense of teammate Matt Cooke, said the league and its players needed a clear distinction of what's acceptable and what's not, in order for players to remain safe and injury-free.
Now that there is a clear distinction, why isn't it being followed?
I know that hockey is a sport known for its aggressive nature, and to take bone-rattling hits out of the game would be to change the game completely. But I, for one, don't see any fun in watching players get wheeled off the ice on stretchers, or having to miss out on a season for it.

Fighting For Their Playoff Lives

If the Calgary Flames need to learn the meaning of one word, it's consistency. In the frantic push to make it into the playoffs, the Flames have neither been hot nor cold. They have won 6 of their last 10 games this month, reaping their victories against teams that have been doing very well in the league to date. They faced off against the Minnesota Wild 3 times, and lost to them twice.
For a team who emphasizes the importance of making the playoffs, it doesn't seem like they are seeing any results.
Granted, they are playing much better than they were prior to the Olympic break. At first, it was arguably the newly-acquired players who seemed to be injecting new life into the tired team, with Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman leading the pack. Jamal Mayers and Ian White also got into the scoring action, justifying to Calgary fans that Brent Sutter made the right decisions in trading for them.
But in a time when winning is absolutely crucial, the Flames are not seeing much of it.
Currently they trail the Detroit Red Wings by 2, with 81 points. It's clear that the Red Wings have recognized their fragile position in playoff standings, and have stepped up their game, scooping up a big win at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Against the Anaheim Ducks tonight, the Flames will continue their attempt to catch up to Detroit. Technically, it shouldn't be hard: the Ducks are 7 points behind the Flames and are sitting at 11th in the league.
Unfortunately, for a team who has lately been known for giving up substantial leads, skating fast and playing hard are the only ways this flame is going to keep on burning.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Devil On My Shoulder

It was the second time this month that the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils went head-to-head. And it was the second time this month that the Devils bested the Pens with a 2-goal advantage. In fact, in all 6 games played against each other this season, the Pens have not been able to beat captain Rob Niedermayer and his crew.
Although Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz scored the first goal early on in the game, it was followed by 4-goal blitz by the Devils, delivered by Parise, Elias, Martin and Zubrus, respectively. By the start of the third, the Pens began to show their desperation, with Sidney Crosby being sent to the bench for goalie interference, a rare occurence on his part.
Partway through the third, Ruslan Fedetenko banged home a quick wristshot to narrow the deficit to 2, but with less than 2 minutes left in the period, Niedermayer sealed the Devils' win.
What is it that the New Jersey Devils have over the defending Stanley Cup champions that keeps them winning at every one of their matchups?
Penguins fans might blame the Pens' loss on the recent injuries of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, but the fact is that the Devils have been having an outstanding season, and are sitting comfortably at 6th in the league, just above the Penguins.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New Jersey Devils, March 17 2010


Forward, New Jersey Devils

In the last 5 games:
3 Goals
2 Assists
4 Pts

Toskala Proves His Worth

Brent Sutter has not been shy about taking risky chances this season, as shown by his several shocking moves during the NHL trades. But one move he made today raised more than a few eyebrows: choosing recently aquired Vesa Toskala to start in a big game against the Colorado Avalanche.
By the end of the game, however, eyebrows went down and Calgary fans somewhat breathed a sigh of relief. With a final score of 3-2 in favour of Calgary, the team is now inching its way back into the playoff race.
Taking on the Avs has not gone too well for the Calgary Flames in the past. The Flames have lost to Colorado 4 times already this season. But they looked to turn around that statistic by taking the lead early on in the game. In the first 3 minutes, Rene Bourque scored a shorthanded goal by breakaway. Less than 5 minutes after, Eric Nystrom put one in by way of a sneaky backhand.
The first period hardly posed a challenge for Calgary's back-up goalie, as the Avs' defence was weak and their offence was messy.
Things turned around slightly during the second period when Colorado picked up their game, and the Flames reverted back to the play that caused them to lose to the Vancouver Canucks a few days ago. Though Rene Bourque scored another goal halfway through the period to bring their lead to 3, their unorganized play in front of the net allowed the Avs' Chris Durno to score.
It seemed as if the Flames had the win in the bag throughout the third, with Toskala making 31 saves against a much better Colorado. In the last minute of the game, Miljan Hejduk narrowed their deficit to 3-2, but Calgary hung on to claim the victory.
In an earlier interview, Brent Sutter expressed his trust in his backup goalie, and many Flames fans wondered what it was exactly that Toskala posessed to earn this trust. In a tough game, an important one for the Flames, Toskala was given the chance to show us what he's got.

Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche, March 17 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Flames Put Out

For the first time since 2005, the Calgary Flames are struggling to even make it into the playoffs. For Calgary fans, their team's stint as the Western Conference division champions 5 years ago seems like a distant memory, and an accomplishment is now nearly impossible to achieve. Last night's game against the Detroit Red Wings affirmed the Flames' status as one of the lower teams in the league, though it was a hard-fought battle.
The Flames exploded in the first period with tons of energy, and less than 2 minutes into the game Craig Conroy put one past Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard. The Flames managed to maintain their 1-goal lead until late in the second period, when Pavel Datsyuk tied up the scoreboard.
And, as if to parallel the Flames' early first goal, the Red Wings determined their opponent's fate by sinking in a late goal to gain the lead, less than 2 minutes before the end of the third.
It was the way the Flames played prior to the Olympic break that lowered their chances of making the playoffs. January saw the team struggle through a 9-game losing streak. You have to give the team credit for their performance after the break, adjusting well to the many trades and improving on their play, but all that now seems to be in vain.
The Calgary Flames play 13 games left in the regular season.

Calgary Flames vs Detroit Red Wings, March 15 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

You Win Some, You Lose Some Pt. 2

Another two-game day involving the Calgary Flames and the Pittsburgh Penguins resulted in one favourable outcome, and one that was not so favourable.

It was the battle of 2 Canadian division rivals, the Flames and the Vancouver Canucks, that ended badly for my hometown team, breaking their 4-game winning streak. Although the Flames didn't play their worst game, they certainly didn't play their best.
The final score was 3-1 Vancouver, with all 3 of the Canucks' goals scored in the first period, where the Flames played a messy game. The Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, each scored a goal, along with Ryan Kesler.
Mikka Kiprusoff was subsequently pulled and replaced with newcomer Vesa Toscala at the start of the second period. The second and third periods showed good plays, patience and effort by the Flames, who at one point outshot the Canucks 20 to 6. The entire third period went by without a shot on goal by the Canucks. There were some great opportunities but the puck never found its way past gold medal-winning goalie Roberto Luongo. Late into the third Robyn Regher scored his second goal of the season, brining the score to 3-1. But despite several more shots on goal and a last-minute power play in favour of the Flames, the Canucks skated off the ice victorious.
It was a crucial game for the Calgary Flames, who have found themselves once again sitting in 9th in the league, as the Detroit Red Wings retook their previous spot at 8th.
The Vancouver Canucks are the highest ranked Canadian team in the league, currently in 4th.

A five-game road trip that began on Thursday, March 11th, hasn't been going too well for the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the first two games ending in losses. But against the Tampa Bay Lightning today, the Penguins did what they do best: stay resilient and rally to reclaim the upper hand.
In the first few minutes of the game, Pens captain Sidney Crosby suffered an injury as a result of a hard-hitting crosscheck by Steve Downie. Downie came up from the side and took out Crosby's right knee, which bent back and got caught beneath both Crosby and Downie's falling bodies. Crosby was slowly escorted off the ice to be attended to, but was able to return to the game.
After a scoreless first period, Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavelier delivered a wristshot that sailed past Marc-Andre Fleury, and the entire second period remaind 1-0 in favour of the Lightning. But a few minutes into the third, Pascal Dupuis tied up the scoreboard, and less than 3 minutes later Sergei Gonchar put another one in, allowing the Penguins to take the lead. The Pens continued to hang on to their 1-point lead all the way until the end of the third, thanks to some solid defensive play.
The Penguins' win allowed them to hold on to the 6th spot in the league, just below the Phoenix Coyotes.

Calgary Flames vs Vancouver Canucks, March 14 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Yes, it was a much anticipated day for me as my 2 favourite NHL teams were taking to the ice (not against each other, but it still made for a very entertaining few hours of TV).

First, the Pittsburgh Penguins took on the Carolina Hurricanes, and although it seemed like an easy win for the defending Stanley Cup champions, the game went all the way into overtime and Brian Pothier delivered a snapshot that made the final score 4-3 in favour of the Hurricanes.
The 2 more renowned Staal brothers (Jordan and Eric) each scored a goal for their own teams, while Matt Cooke attempted to shake the negative scrutiny from his hit to Marc Savard off by scoring a goal with a slick backhand.
It's a well-known fact that the Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby does not like to lose, but his team's fall to the Hurricanes doesn't hurt their chances too much. Pittsburgh has a 21-point lead over Carolina, and is sitting comfortably in the 5th spot in the league.

Things just keep getting hotter for the Calgary Flames, who extended their winning streak to 4 tonight against the Ottawa Senators. It was a relatively slow game, with the entire second period remaining scoreless, but nonetheless the Flames took the win with a final score of 2-0.
In the first 5 minutes of the game, former Maple Leafs forward Jamal Mayers scored his first goal as a Flame. The Flames maintained the single point lead until the last 10 minutes of the third period, when Christopher Higgins' slapshot pushed it up to 2. It was Higgins' second goal since with Calgary, proving to doubtful Flames fans that Darryl Sutter made the right choice when trading him from the New York Rangers for Ollie Jokinen. Mikka Kiprusoff, often called "the hardest working man on the Flames roster," earned his 34th career shutout to match the number he wears on his back. The Flames are now only 2 points behind their Canadian counterparts.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Carolina Hurricanes, March 11 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Curious Case of Crosby's Stick

All of Canada (and probably the rest of the world too) was up in arms over the disappearance of the Gold Medal-winning gear used by Sidney Crosby during the final mens hockey game of the Olympics. In his excitement after shooting his overtime goal, Crosby dropped his stick, glove and mouthguard before getting bombarded by his Canadian teammates. Crosby headed back to Pittsburgh the next night with only his mouthguard in posession.
Though Crosby seemed pretty relaxed about his missing gear in interviews following the Olympics, nobody else was. The director of Hockey Canada led an intensive search for the stick and glove that lasted just a little over a week. But today, the treasured items were found.
Crosby's stick had mistakenly been handed over to the IIHF and was on its way to their Hall of Fame until it was realized that it was the stick that generated the Golden Goal.
The glove was found in the equipment bag of fellow Team Canada player Patrice Bergeron.
Both the glove and stick have been returned to Crosby, much to the relief of anyone who feared that the relics of Canadian hockey history were gone forever.

It's The End Of The Road

The Vancouver Canucks played their last of a 14-game road trip tonight against their western conference rivals the Phoenix Coyotes. Playing that many road games in succession is an exhausting task, but the exhaustion did not show in the Canucks' game. Though they lost in a two-round shootout, the Canucks battled fiercely against the Coyotes, who are riding their coat tails in both conference and league standings.
Each team scored a goal in all three periods, and the scoreboard remained even all the way to the shootout. It was Mason Raymond of the Canucks whose missed shot on goal allowed the Coyotes to walk away with the 4-3 win.
The Coyotes' win brings them to a tie at the 4th spot in the league, just edging past the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Vancouver Canucks vs Phoenix Coyotes, March 10th 2010


Sidney Crosby has turned down a request to host the Top Ten with Jay Leno, as well as an appearance on the David Letterman show. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero says Crosby is unable to make any promotional appearances on behalf of the NHL due to a busy schedule.

The New York State Supreme Court will be handling the case of the National Hockey League vs. Jerry Moyes. Moyes, the former owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, is being sued by the NHL for his mismanagement of the team, which resulted in an estimated loss of $61 million.

Marc Savard's grade 2 concussion as a result of a check from Matt Cooke is the main topic being discussed at this year's NHL General Managers meeting in Florida. The NHL is looking to change the rules or implement a new rule on checking to prevent the number of head injuries happening during the season.
Despite the severity of his hit, Cooke will not be suspended.