Friday, October 28, 2011

Roman Holiday

Can you imagine if the Calgary Flames were playing this season with defenceman Tim Erixon instead of center Roman Horak?

The Flames selected young Erixon 23rd overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, hoping to benefit from his well-roundedness and good vision on the ice. But somewhere in between then and earlier this year, something went awry and GM Jay Feaster traded him to the New York Rangers. It was generally perceived that Erixon was traded because he refused to sign with the club.

This news came as a slap in the face to Flames fans. Sure, the team hadn't made the playoffs in a couple of years, and the team's rebuilding phase was a slow-going one, but for a rookie to snub the team that drafted him into the NHL was an abomination.

In the process of trading the traitor (as Erixon is now inevitably known as in the city of Calgary) the Flames acquired 20-year old Roman Horak.
As fate would have it, Horak has remained one of the few prospects who survived the Flames training camp and went on to play a few NHL games in the regular season, edging out such promising players as Lance Bouma and TJ Brodie. And in those few games, Horak has managed to notch 2 goals and 3 assists. Erixon, on the other hand, was demoted to the juniors early on in the season, without a point to his name.

Perhaps Horak isn't as highly touted a rookie as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Nazem Kadri, but his presence on the ice has definitely been felt and much appreciated. He's injected a jolt of youthful energy and enthusiasm into the Flames roster (which is much needed, especially right now as 22-year old center Mikael Backlund is out recovering from a broken finger). His excitement on the ice is clear during each and every game, as demonstrated by the impatient rocking back and forth on the bench and liveliness of his stride as he gets off it.

If Horak can keep it up he could very well become an integral part of the Flames roster, and his teammates have no doubt he can do it.
"It's great to see a young guy that wants to learn and works hard every day," Ollie Jokinen had said of Horak on Wednesday, following the game that saw the youngster score his very first NHL goal. "He's only going to get better."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mighty Miikka

October 18, 2011

Calgary Flames vs Edmonton Oilers

The first Battle of Alberta game was made even more special when the Calgary Flames honoured starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff on reaching a milestone: surpassing Mike Vernon as the franchise's all-time leader with 263 wins. And though throughout the majority of the game it looked like his number would stay at 263 for the time being, the Flames rallied from a 1-0 deficit and Kiprusoff made an unbelievable toe-pad save in the final seconds, leading the home team to a 2-1 victory.

Click HERE to see the video

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Center, New York Islanders

In the last 5 games:
5 Goals
3 Assists
8 Pts

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Knockout And A Beatdown

It was a busy night in the NHL and there was certainly a lot to talk about when all 10 games wrapped up. But the games that had the most tongues wagging were the Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals and the Calgary Flames vs Montreal Canadiens.

The Pens-Caps game got of to a quick start when James Neal drew first blood for the home team and got the Consol Energy Center roaring. But the crowd was silenced in the second when Mike Knuble evened up the scoreboard, and early in the third Pittsburgh's Public Enemy No. 1 Alex Ovechkin scored the go-ahead goal to bring the tally to 2-1 Washington.
The highlight of the game, which was more of a lowlight in actuality, was the FIGHT between Arron Asham and Jay Beagle. After roughing up Kris Letang hard enough to send Letang’s helmet flying, Beagle found himself squaring off in a fight with Asham. It was a fairly good tilt until Asham KO’d Beagle, then skated off to the box while making a ‘sleeper’ motion as if to taunt Beagle for passing out. The incident caused an uproar; later Asham admitted that the gesture was classless and apologized for it.
After 16 scoreless minutes, Neal got himself a tying powerplay goal to prevent the game from ending in regulation. The extra frame saw Dennis Wideman shoot a wrister to beat Brent Johnson. But it wasn't all bad for the Penguins; the extra point they earned kept them atop the Eastern Conference in standings, and today it was officially announced that captain Sidney Crosby has finally been cleared for contact.

In their home opener, the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Calgary Flames, and in the first 5 minutes of the game the Habs’ Andrei Kostitsyn threw a goal past Miikka Kiprusoff. Considering how the Flames had been playing of late, this early goal was almost unanimously thought of as an indication of how the rest of the game was going to play out.
But something sparked the Flames and there was an offensive explosion shortly after, with 2 powerplay goals by Rene Bourque and Niklas Hagman, and a pretty wristshot from David Moss.
The Flames padded their lead in the following period, thanks to Bourque’s second of the night, and despite a flurry of chances, the Habs could not beat Kiprusoff, who made several amazing saves in the third, particularly one complete robbery of a shot by Habs captain Brian Gionta.
At the sound of the buzzer, the final score was 4-1 for the Flames. With their first win of the season, the Flames hope to gain momentum and start climbing the ranks of the Western Conference, where they are currently second-last, just above the Columbus Blue Jackets.

There were 2 potential milestones to be reached in tonight’s game, involving both teams' goalies. If the Habs had won, Carey Price would have earned his 100th career win. But instead it was Miikka Kiprusoff who made his mark, surpassing Mike Vernon for the franchise record with 263 wins.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals, October 13th, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Capital Victory

The Ottawa Senators came into their home opener against the Minnesota Wild with a record of 0-2 and frankly, no one was really surprised. They were struggling in the few seasons past, and are most likely to continue the struggle for a little while longer.
Sens fans were not in a pretty mood at the beginning of the game, not only booing former Senator Dany Heatley as he skated onto the ice, but also current roster member Sergei Gonchar.

The first period didn't give the fans much more to cheer about, as the Wild proceeded to build up a 2-goal lead. Halfway through the second, youngster Nick Foligno put a wrister past Niklas Backstrom to cut the deficit in half.

But the third period was where the game really got interesting. The Wild's Nick Johnson scored an unassisted goal in the first 2 minutes of play, but was answered by --not one, but two!-- goals from the Senators' Chris Neil and Colin Greening. Craig Anderson managed to stave away a third regulation loss for his team to send the game to a shootout.

Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza potted their first two attempts easily, while Mikko Koivu's failure to score put the game in Daniel Alfredsson's hands. And those very capable hands delivered, as the captain made no mistake as he calmly but beautifully tucked the puck right over Backstrom's shoulder. The team captain scoring the GAME-WINNING SHOOTOUT GOAL: nothing says storybook ending quite like it.

It was a much-needed win for the Senators, and it couldn't have happened in a better place than on home ice.
The team plays another home game against the Colorado Avalanche before hitting the road to face against one of the NHL's elite teams, the Washington Capitals.

Ottawa Senators vs Minnesota Wild, October 11th, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hockey Nights In Canada

After months and months of wondering "Is it October yet?" hockey fans can finally switch on the television and know that it is time.
Depending on what team you cheer for, this summer may or may not have been an eventful one, but fall is finally here and it is the month of fresh starts.

Quite a lot has happened in the NHL since the Boston Bruins starred in their very own version of Miracle On Ice against the Vancouver Canucks during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. From triumph (the city of Winnipeg finally has its hockey team back after 15 years) to tragedy (the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak and the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl KHL team made this an unbelievably sad summer for the sport) the drama that unfolded around the league in the offseason made life pretty riveting for any hockey buff.

But with only 1 more day until the official start of the season, the attention is now shifting from what happened to what is about to happen.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens are the only Canadian teams to play on opening night, with the Calgary Flames making their on-ice debut on October 8 and the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers on October 9.

There is a lot to look forward to, with the return of the Jets to Winnipeg being the main storyline. There's also the tale of the Oilers' young guns. Magnus Pajaarvi, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are now more comfortable playing in the big league in their sophomore season, and no doubt the world is anxious to see what they can do this time around.
The Calgary Flames, who were very optimistic this summer about being playoff-bound, are suffering a few setbacks just weeks before the season opener. Jarome Iginla missed all of the preseason games due to a back injury, Rene Bourque was also out since training camp due to an undisclosed "mystery" injury, and most recently, young forward Mikael Backlund broke a finger and will be out for approximately 6 weeks.
Carey Price, coming off of a remarkable breakout season, is coming into the next one with the entire weight of Montreal on his shoulders. He proved to thousands of Habs fans that he had what it took, and now he needs to prove that he will have it for years to come.
And perhaps no other Canadian team will be as finely scrutinized as the Canucks, who rose up the ranks to become the NHL's most formidable team only to be cut down slowly and surely by the resilient Bruins in the finals.

Unlike history, hockey seasons rarely repeat themselves, so it's tough to gauge what will happen in the next seven months. The only guarantee is that it's going to be a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat, eyes-wide-shut winter. So let's get this show on the ice!

Saturday nights are just not the same without Don Cherry and Ron Maclean