December 12 2016 10:00AM
An important part of being an analyst or commentator is admitting when you're wrong. I'll flat out admit it: when Glen Gulutzan shook up the defensive pairings following Calgary's Dec. 10 loss to the Dallas Stars, I thought it was a bad idea. Heck, I wrote about it and pronounced it as such. My thought process was that the Flames had one defensive pairing that worked really well (Deryk Engelland and Brett Kulak) and it would be silly to break them up to gamble on finding chemistry elsewhere.
Now that Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton have gelled this well together, making such a fuss about the third pairing sure seems silly in hindsight. In particular, the solidifying of Hamilton's role on the team and a consistent partner have unlocked a ton of really good things in his game.
December 11 2016 12:00PM
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
It seemed like just yesterday we were praising this team for how well they were set for the future. In 2014-15, they finished a season where they made the playoffs, and fought a valiant seven games, while being seventh in the league in possession. Sure, they lucked out by getting Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, but they were a competitive team, and they still had some decent prospects in the minors.
Even at the 2015 draft they lucked out, as they swapped draft bust Griffin Reinhart for a 1st and a 2nd, and managed to get Matthew Barzal after Boston whiffed on him with three straight picks. Garth Snow was a genius.
But here they are, two seasons later, and now with very little hope in sight. The team sits in 14th in the East, and they have the second worst possession team to only the Arizona Coyotes at 45.42%. Their offense is mediocre, but their shot suppression is terrible, allowing 64.98 even strength shot attempts against per 60 minutes. Oh, and they just screwed themselves in the cap by locking up a fourth liner long term yesterday.
So, what happened? How did Garth Snow suddenly become dumb, after building such a great team?
December 11 2016 10:00AM
Here's a hot take for you: The best pure goal-scorer in the 2016 Draft not named Patrik Laine wasn't taken until the second round. For as much as we bemoan how the Chicago Blackhawks somehow always seem to find ways to win, maybe it's time to acknowledge the fact that the rest of the league seems to let them get away with things like: Drafting a first round-calibre player despite not having a first round pick because Alex DeBrincat got passed over 38 times before the Hawks finally had their first pick of the 2016 Draft.
December 10 2016 11:04AM
Players from the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils surprised no one on Tuesday night when they responded to a hit by the Devils’ Taylor Hall on an unsuspecting Philip Larsen.
The hit looks like a clean one—if we’re talking about the NHL rule book. Judgement beyond that depends on how you feel about a player ploughing into an oblivious, deer-like opponent in the area of the ice I like to refer to as Raffi Torres’ playpen.
December 10 2016 08:00AM
Dougie Hamilton scored his fourth goal of the season in dramatic fashion. The recipient of a fantastic pass from Johnny Gaudreau, he was able to then split two Coyotes en route to the net before deking out the goalie and scoring in overtime for the Flames.
All in all, it was an extremely cool goal: the Flames' 73rd of the season. Unfortunately, as it would so be right now, the Flames aren't a particularly high-scoring team; their 2.43 goals per game is only 20th in the NHL.
This is a team that, point blank, has to start scoring more. Gaudreau's return should help things, but Hamilton is probably going to be a massive part of any offensive resurgence, too.