Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
On paper, the Calgary Flames aren't a bad team. They're not a great team, by any stretch of the imagination, but they're probably upper-mid-table in the Western Conference if it can get prime performances from its better players.
So why in the hell is this happening?
On Saturday night, they led 2-1 through the first period and looked pretty good doing it, but then the second period came, and they gave up six goals to the Capitals. Two were 12 seconds apart. The next two were 13 seconds apart. This came after games in which they allowed Colorado to come back from down two goals in a 6-5 loss, and coughed up a three-goal lead only to beat Edmonton in a shootout 5-4.
They've looked old, they've looked slow, and they've looked completely befuddled any time they've run across a team that can actually transition with speed ... like the teams they've played in their last three games, who have piled on 17 goals in that time. All of which, by the way, came on home ice. And for a veteran team like the Flames, making the kinds of errors they've been making simply cannot be acceptable.
Saturday's loss was the third in a row, and Brent Sutter, having already blamed the stars - like the ineffective and punchless Jarome Iginla(notes) - for fumbling away leads in each of those games, had no response for why his team was playing so badly. At least not a good one. It had, in its previous few games, looked strong at times, as it did against Colorado for a while and simply unstoppable at others, like in the first two periods against Edmonton. But the end result has been the same: coughing up leads with frustrating frequency.
Robyn Regehr(notes) noted that the team felt "fragile" right now, or was at least playing like it. Sutter disagreed, but who knows why? That might be why one of his actual excuses for the poor play on Saturday was bad changes. You'd think it'd be tough to hang a second-period six-spot on bad changes, but here we are.
After apparently making the assembled mob of reporters wait far longer than usual on Saturday, Sutter's explanations and excuses finally landed on the proper target: Himself. "We have to get better ourselves,'' Sutter said. "I hold myself responsible and accountable for what's going on."
Maybe, though, Sutter's just lost the team.
(Coming Up: Getzlaf's displeased; Parise's injured team play vs. star talent; Pavelec returns; love for Datsyuk; why you can't trust the Sabres; Jaroslav Halak(notes) is good; Guy Boucher's Lightning genius; Benn's gem; Timmy Thomas is killing it; and why oh why would Rick DiPietro(notes) fight?)
After all, Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) gave himself the hook after No. 7 on Saturday, having seen the defense in front of him turn the puck over for six straight periods, or, worse, allow Washington to draw a shorthanded penalty shot.
And then, in the ultimate sign that the team is pretty well waging a small war against itself, Sutter made his netminder return to the crease again at the beginning of the third period to suffer a bit more indignity -- though, thankfully, no more goals.
People give GM Darryl Sutter a lot of crap about stuff like the Jokinen signing and the Bouwmeester signing and the Tanguay signing and the Jokinen trade and the Staios trade, and it's all for good reason. But perhaps the grand scheme that saw Brent resign from the Devils job to take the Flames position a short time later was his worst transaction of all.
Not that Brent's going to get fired any time soon. His big brother is nothing if not eternally forgiving and tone deaf to the bitter end. See also: Jokinen, Olli.
The more likely scenario is that this team keeps playing on-again-off-again hockey, cruising past some teams and getting demolished by others, as they did in Sutter's first year behind the bench. But something has to be done, and soon, unless this team wants to miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.
As for what that something is, well, it could end up being anything. Not that Brent has any idea what it is yet.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf(notes) isn't happy with the way his line played in the Ducks' 5-2 loss to the Sharks on Saturday. Because pumping in a pair of power play goals, after the game's already 5-0 and both he and Corey Perry(notes) are already both minus-3, is rather a poor showing.
Atlanta Thrashers: Ondrej Pavelec(notes) played for the first time since fainting in the middle of a game a while back, and the Thrashers welcomed him by scoring three goals in the first period. But then they blew the lead in the last 10 minutes, on two goals by Jay McClement(notes) of all people. Not the best return there.
I don't know how anyone could call that "fighting."
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres recalled Luke Adam(notes) from Portland, running the number of people on the team with a first name for their last name to three. Personally, I don't trust people like that. So watch out for Derek Roy(notes) and Jordan Leopold(notes).
Just look at those reactions. Hoo boy.
Colorado Avalanche: The Avs breezed by Columbus 5-1 on Friday, marking the first time they won by more than two goals since March 11. That's a run of 22 games (including playoffs), which isn't very good.
Columbus Blue Jackets: A lede I absolutely loved: "The Blue Jackets no longer lose, they implode." It's particularly funny because they just came off a three-game winning streak. On the other hand, three of their four losses have come 5-1, 6-2 and 5-2.Edmonton Oilers: The Oil picked up a 'W' in regulation at United Center. That hasn't happened since Taylor Hall(notes) was 12. Of course, realizing that this means it only took place in 2004 made me feel a million years old.
Florida Panthers: A thing I hate: When a player more or less guarantees he will fight someone, as Darcy Hordichuk(notes) did recently, and then doesn't fight. Despite the apparent enmity between he and Travis Moen(notes), there was nary a scrap to be found.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings let Rich Hammond film their postgame dressing room celebration, which apparently only ever consists of tape removal, listening to hip hop and Kevin Westgarth(notes) briefly dancing.
Montreal Canadiens: Andrei Markov(notes) returned to the lineup on Saturday and wasn't used very much. He didn't even get out there on a 5-on-3. When quizzed about that by media, Markov responded, "Ask the coach." So things are going well up there for sure.
Nashville Predators: The Predators are making a real commitment to promoting youth hockey in Tennessee, donating $150,000 to a sports complex with two rinks in it. "Our goal is to put skates and sticks on feet and hands, respectively," said CEO Jeff Cogen. I'm assuming he had to say the "respectively" part or else all those hillbilly yokels would try skating on their hands.
New York Islanders: Lookit Rick DiPietro trying to fight somebody. What a trooper.
Oh wait he's made out of damp toiler paper. What is he doing?
Ottawa Senators: Nick Foligno(notes) and Peter Regin(notes), you are the reason the Senators suck. Boo to you, Nick Foligno and Peter Regin. And not at all to Bryan Murray for building a fatally flawed team.
Phoenix Coyotes: Hey so y'know all those players on the Coyotes that are supposed to be decent at scoring? Like Shane Doan(notes) and Wojtek Wolski(notes) and Ray Whitney(notes) and Petr Prucha(notes)? Yeah, they have as many goals combined as BizNasty, which is to say "zero."
Pittsburgh Penguins: Hey Max Talbot(notes), would you hit an opposing fan? No, you say? What a scoop! (And by the way, how's Max Talbot get the title of "Toughest Penguin?" Did Eric Godard(notes) and Derek Engelland die?)
Vancouver Canucks: Keith Ballard(notes) and Alex Burrows could be back as soon as tonight's game against New Jersey, and the rest of the team hasn't played since last Tuesday. To make up for it, they have four in the next six nights.
Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin(notes) scored two goals in 12 seconds against the Flames, but sat after that, thereby denying him a chance to break the record for fastest hattie: 21 seconds. The way Calgary was playing, he might've gotten to four in that timeframe.
Gold Star Award
I do believe Timmy Thomas is killing it.
Keep in mind he only doesn't have seven wins because he's played just six games. Either way, those stats are ridiculous.
Minus of the Weekend
Play of the Weekend
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "kushh" is all over this one.
Jarome Iginla, Robyn Regehr, Mikka Kipprusoff, Daymon Langkow, Cory Sarich
Where does Darryl Sutter sign?
It's a candy dish, Ned. Ninety dollars.
- Brent Sutter