- Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy1 hr ago
This was the only way things could have reasonably ended, but given that nothing to do with the Calgary Flames in the last few years has ever approached reasonable, this is an unfortunate first.
Jay Feaster and assistant general manager John Weisbrod are out of a job -- hilariously and inconveniently inside team president of hockey ops Brian Burke's ludicrous and self-imposed extra-long Christmas trade freeze -- and none have yet come forward to truly praise them, but rather half-heartedly bury them instead.
The fact of the matter is both should have been gone at several points in the ignominious careers with the Flames, and should in reality never have been hired, but things were left in such a shambles by Darryl Sutter that anyone, even a guy who drove the Tampa Bay Lightning into the ground, must have seemed a more reasonable candidate.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy2 hrs ago
On Thursday, we brought you 10 players whose stock for the 2014 Sochi Olympics has plummeted, either due to lack of production or injuries or cracking under the pressure.
But pressure can be a motivator. So can a perceived snub by your hockey nation.
Here are 10 players that have thrived under that pressure, increasing their standing for Sochi roster spots or putting themselves on the radar for them.
Jamie Benn, F, Dallas Stars (Canada)
The epitome of the Olympics-motivated player. Benn went from Team Canada camp “snub” a near point-per-game player (26 points in 30 games) with the Stars. His pace has slowed, with just two points in his last eight games, but he’s on the radar.
Ben Bishop, G, Tampa Bay Lightning (USA)
Bishop took advantage of some struggles among his U.S. goaltending peers to play himself into the conversation for Sochi. He’s got a 2.05 GAA and a .931 save percentage; will he join Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller on the roster?
John Carlson, D, Washington Capitals (USA)
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy3 hrs ago
In general, no one cares about who wins the Presidents' Trophy, largely because of that old joke about how if you win that, you probably won't win the Stanley Cup.
Of course, there remains no better measure — especially now that the entire league plays everyone else both home and away — of how good a team is than how it does over six-plus months and 82 games, but the fact of the matter is that being the best in the regular season means very little in the eyes of hockey fans and, probably, players and teams as well.
Since 1985-86, only eight teams to win the regular season have gone on to win the Stanley Cup, so perhaps there's a little bit of a good reason for skepticism; but regardless, this year might be the most important race to the top in history.
There are currently five or maybe even six teams currently in the running for a spot, with the reigning double-winners Chicago Blackhawks sitting in the pole position once again. The fact of the matter is that this team is dismantling just about everyone they play, having lost just six games out of 34(!) in regulation this season, and boasting a league-best goal differential of plus-36.
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
Joann and Mark Windish were expecting their son, Army PFC. Matthew, who's on a one-year tour of duty in Republic of Korea, to come home for the holidays next Friday. So when they were invited to Thursday night's Philadelphia Flyers game, they eagerly awaited to see a video tribute to Matthew on the Jumbotron, or so they were told.
What they received, instead, was in the form of a giant G.I. Joe figurine box and inside was the best holiday gift they could ask for: their son.
According to Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post, the Windish's other son, Chris, devised this plan while thinking of Christmas presents to give his family. When the Flyers agreed to the idea, the next step was a tricky one.
- Harrison Mooney at Puck Daddy11 hrs ago
No. 1 Star: Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
Duchene was in on every goal in the Avalanche's 4-3 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets. He scored twice, assisted on another, and scored the shootout winner. Love this goal, where he steals a puck in the defensive zone, then rushes down the other way and scores.
He should be on Team Canada.
No. 2 Star: Rob Klinkhammer, Phoenix Coyotes
Klinkhammer had a three-point night for the Coyotes in their 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders, with 2 goals and an assist. What a pickup this guy was.
No. 3 Star: Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Pavelski scored twice as the Sharks ended their four-game losing streak, beating the Minnesota Wild, 3-1.
- Harrison Mooney at Puck Daddy13 hrs ago
Much is made of the Boston Bruins' toughness, but really, it's just based on two guys: Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic, both of whom take regular shifts, and both of whom are absolutely terrifying gentlemen with whom to trade fists. It's a great situation for everyone else. When you have a pair of guys with a reputation for rarely losing bouts that few are eager to test, the whole team can play bigger.
But occasionally, Lucic and Chara are going to have to prove they're still elite punchers of the face, and on Thursday night versus the Edmonton Oilers, Lucic was asked to do just that, squaring off with Luke Gazdic.
The fight was a true heavyweight tilt, with some absolute bombs thrown. But here's what makes this one really notable: You could argue that Gazdic won it.
I'm going to give the decision to Gazdic, but even if you disagree, I think it's safe to say he didn't lose. And that's something. Lucic is a terror.
- Harrison Mooney at Puck Daddy15 hrs ago
Above is a photo of Scott Hartnell talking to Alexei Emelin of the Montreal Canadiens immediately following a hit to the head of Flyers' forward Steve Downie. He appears to be suggesting something is tiny. Probably the difference between a clean hit and a dirty hit in today's fast-moving NHL. Probably.
Emelin was given a five-minute major for elbowing and tossed from Thursday night's game after a nasty hit along the near boards.
I'm sure some Montreal fans will accuse Downie of embellishment on this play, especially with that delayed reaction, but it looks to me like the hit really just stunned him. It's concerning, especially since he's already missed four games this season with a concussion suffered on a blow to the head.
But that one was from a punch, which the league casually condones. This time, it's an elbow, so Emelin should probably be somewhat concerned for himself as well. He may miss some time.
It looks to me like he threw a bit of a chicken-wing, and if he did, he's in some trouble. Any time the camera catches you going the extra mile to get the head, you can expect a call from the Department.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy18 hrs ago
Brian Burke had an eventful day. Firing Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod. Naming himself interim general manger. Giving his kids a chance to joke about his mad scientist hair on Twitter.
Here are five things we learned from Burkie today about his job and the direction of the Flames.
1. His Opening Press Conference Was a Sham
Burke said his assignment from ownership, when he was hired, was to take 60 days and evaluate how the current management group had done.
“When I took the job, I told [Ken King] that you can’t evaluate an organization from the outside,” said Burke, in speaking about his decision to fire Feaster. His evaluation included an assessment of Feaster’s transaction history, which Burke felt should have yielded a better bounty.
This is completely not what Burke was selling when he was hired, which was that he and Feaster would be a management team together:
- Harrison Mooney at Puck Daddy18 hrs ago
Here is the Puck Daddy Viewing Guide: Spotlighting five things to watch for during tonight's slate of games. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.
Create-a-Caption : "Matt Beleskey #39 of the Anaheim Ducks slides into the goal during the game against the Minnesota Wild on December 11, 2013."
• • •
Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Montreal Canadiens at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. ET
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy19 hrs ago
Have you ever been on Twitter when news breaks, and everyone makes the same obvious joke but acts like they’ve just validated the existence of the Higgs boson particle? ( Raises hand as that person, with frequency .)
It's basically the same phenomenon as the “ugly Christmas sweater” trend in minor league hockey.
First came the Reading Royals of the ECHL:
And then the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL:
And the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL:
Aaaaaaaand the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL:
And we're not even halfway through December yet ...
To this trend, we cry HUMBUG! And here's why:
1. The death of creativity. Oh, look, a couple are red and a couple are green. But it's the same collection of iconography remixed into seasonal colors. Reindeer jumping! Reindeer jumping over trees! Reindeer jumping into snowflakes! Snowflakes falling on trees! Trees falling on reindeer!
We all love a holiday cookie cutter, but c’mon already.
2. None of the reindeer are having sex. Somewhere, Michael Del Zotto weeps into his “HBO 24/7” sweater.
3. They’re not that ugly. Seriously, do any of these rise to the level of “ugly” as far as holiday sweaters go?