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What We Learned: Jay Feaster’s indecision, empty threats almost help his team but not quite

Ryan Lambert
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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 Thursday, Calgary lost 4-3 in a shootout to Phoenix. In that game, they exited the first period with a two-goal lead but succumbed over the course of the game as a result of the team's veterans taking their foot off the gas.

Jay Feaster seethed, and understandably so.

"If we don't show a whole lot more urgency heading into Monday, you guys will be busy as it relates to the goings on in Calgary," he told team broadcaster Roger Millions during the second intermission. "It's our veterans that haven't come to play in the last games. That's where we have to talk about intellectual honesty. If our play isn't trending to be a playoff team we have to be honest and have to look to marshal some assets."

This was a somewhat shocking reversal from the team's previous position — an ownership-mandated assault on what is sure to be the Western Conference's final playoff spot — about its deadline approach. Might Calgary's probably-ill-advised "going for it" now be off the table after a pitiable second-period performance and a 6-1 smackdown at the hands of the lowly Edmonton Oilers just two nights before? It sure looked like it.

But Feaster backed off a bit from that stance on Friday, saying, "The crazy GM lost his mind on the basis of one bad period and the bad game against Edmonton." However, he added that if the Flames turned in another bad performance, his hand might well be forced.

Enter the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, who had just lost to Edmonton themselves and were winners of just three of their last 10. Early on, it sure seemed as though Calgary's veterans got Feaster's message about being moved; they surged to a 3-0 lead midway through the second on goals from Mark Giordano, Matt Stajan (MATT STAJAN!), and Tom Kostopoulos. Then came the meltdown.

Four of the next five goals were scored by Philadelphia, which went on to win 5-4 in a shootout as they outshot their hosts 45-21. Another bad performance late in the game, another loss, the team's third in a row and fourth in the last five games. The team has now slipped to 11th in the conference (though miraculously just one point out of a playoff spot), and has, at minus-20, a worse goal differential than the Oilers, and the third-worst in the West. This after one of those alleged cure-all Players Only Meetings on Friday.

Surely, Feaster would see that his hand had been forced by his own team: One put together almost entirely of veterans who have been through the rigors of hundreds of combined NHL seasons and understood both what it takes to win and the consequences for not doing so.

Feaster also told Hockey Night in Canada that the Flames had no plans to bring aboard anything beyond a bottom-six — or as he spins it: "top-nine" — and seems content to simply sit on his hands, wait for everyone to come back from injury and sneak into the playoffs.

So, in other words, Calgary will almost certainly stand pat. And it's nearly reasonable. It makes more sense than "going for it," certainly. This is a bad Calgary Flames team that's benefiting only from the bottom nine or 10 teams in the West being about as bad as they are. No sane person on earth thinks this team can compete with the likes of Detroit or Vancouver and probably not even San Jose, which sat seventh on Sunday afternoon.

Living and dying with the team you put together isn't necessarily a bad thing, if the team is any good. No one could fault a Ken Holland or Glen Sather or Mike Gillis or Peter Chiarelli for standing pat and seeing what happens come April, but if you're not buying and you're in 11th place in your conference, you should sure as hell be selling.

Although to be fair to Feaster, this likely isn't his call. He can bluster all he wants about trading underperforming veterans, but if ownership is dictating that the team can't sell off pieces, even with the absurd prices players are fetching these days, what is he supposed to do? Whether non-hockey ops people should be making personnel calls is a different discussion entirely (the answer, it won't surprise you to learn, is, "no they shouldn't"),

One can't say for certain whether Feaster got a phone call after his intermission rant, but given how he backpedaled hard enough to win the Tour de France in reverse less than 12 hours later, it seems at least a reasonable assumption. Which is what makes those threats to ship out poor veteran performers so pointless.

He isn't, and apparently never was, the person who could authorize such a move, but he probably can't be forced to get proactive in bringing players aboard today. That's more than you could have said a week ago, before this latest run of losing started. So in that way, Feaster is actually serving as a responsible steward for the Flames.

But if you're going to talk a big game and issue "win or you're gone" mandates, you might wanna make sure you have the ability to back up your threats.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: If the Ducks make the playoffs this season (and boy is it ever looking like they will), it will be the biggest comeback to make the cut since the league adopted the current format in 1993-94. The current record is 12, set by the Islanders in that season. Anaheim was 20 points out of the playoffs on Jan. 6.

Boston Bruins: David Krejci had a brutal February with just one goal in his first 10 games during the month. But he got moved to the wing two games ago and has improved considerably since. He scored another goal Saturday against Ottawa and it wasn't a bad one either.

Buffalo Sabres: Patrick Kaleta was a minus-3 for Buffalo in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers on Saturday. But Lindy Ruff came to his defense, saying, "Patty has done a great job for us. The way he's played against the top lines has allowed us to get back in the hunt." Please understand that "in the hunt" means "six points back of a playoff spot."

Calgary Flames: Here's that Matt Stajan goal I was talking about earlier ...

It's his second in as many games. He has now run his season total to three.

Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes blew a two-goal third-period lead and lost to Florida in a shootout. Poor Justin Peters made 42 saves in the loss.

Chicago Blackhawks: The future of the Blackhawks trade prospects remained fairly cloudy as the team got run over by rejuvenated LA on Saturday, and people are getting antsy. "[Bowman has] been working on it for some time now," Joel Quenneville said. "We're down to a couple of days here. Hopefully, we can add somebody who can help our team."

Colorado Avalanche: The Avs added to the Red Wings' post-winning streak misery, beating them 4-3 at the Joe. The man behind it all? Newly-acquired Steve Downie. Three points, five in two games. On a line with Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog (who should win the Calder if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins misses any more games), the goals just won't stop coming.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Columbus put both Grant Clitsome and Ryan Russell on waivers Saturday and if no one claims Clitsome they are dumb.

Dallas Stars: Everyone wants Steve Ott on their team at this deadline, presumably so he doesn't injure their team's best players. And also because he's great at the dot and hits everything and has pretty good skill and signed to an extremely affordable deal for two more years, but mostly because he's dirty as hell. I'm guessing.

Detroit Red Wings Presented by Amway: Jonathan Ericsson fractured his wrist and is out a month, adding to the Wings' injury woes, which have really piled up lately.

Edmonton Oilers: The Nuge has played just two of the Oilers' last 20 games but you wouldn't know it from this redirect. What a player.

Florida Panthers: Stephen Weiss was honored as the most tenured Panther in team history in terms of games played at 616, passing Radek Dvorak's old mark on Thursday. In his time with the team, he has had more than 100 teammates, which I guess explains why only playing 614 games with a team is the most in franchise history.

Los Angeles Kings: Dustin Brown would prefer not to be traded thank you VERY much. As a pleasant change of pace for the offensively starved club, his huge hat trick actually saved a strong performance from Jonathan Quick, who picked up his league-leading seventh shutout.

Minnesota Wild: Mikko Koivu skated yesterday and even shot the puck a bit but there's still no timetable for his return.

Montreal Canadiens: Despite a good amount of rumors originating from the Montreal media yesterday morning, it turns out Tomas Plekanec is not willing to waive his no-trade clause. Well that's that then. Or is it? It is. Really? Yes.

Nashville Predators: The Preds made an offer for Rick Nash, and one assumes it would be substantial (conjecture is Colin Wilson, Ryan Ellis or Jonathon Blum, and a raft of picks and prospects). The real winners here, though, are NHL.com headline writers, whose jobs just got a lot easier.

New Jersey Devils: The Devs traded a million things for Marek Zidlicky, for reasons that I'm not sure I fully understand. He's the 34-year-old, almost-exclusively-offensive defenseman who plays soft competition, starts more than half his shifts in the offensive zone, and has zero goals this season, right?

New York Islanders: Brian Rolston on waivers, which isn't surprising since he's been outplayed by David Ullstrom this season and has a gigantic cap hit and is 39. If he doesn't get picked up (and why would he, really?), you'd have to think he's probably played his last NHL game.

New York Rangers: Ryan Callahan's 100th career goal was pretty decent.

Ottawa Senators: As reported by literally every person who has ever used Twitter, Ben Bishop is six feet and seven inches tall. Oh an also he was shipped from St. Louis to Ottawa for a 2013 second-round pick in a sign-and-trade. But jeez he's just so tall. Wow. Whoa.

Philadelphia Flyers: Danny Briere hasn't scored in 15 games, Matt Read has one goal in his last 14. That led to a bit of line juggling ahead of Saturday's game, and what do you know, the Flyers scored four. That Peter Laviolette, man. What a coach.

Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes lead their division and are now 9-0-1 in their last 10 games. Six of their next eight, and 11 of their remaining 20, are at home.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens might be in the market for a skilled wing for what Sid Crosby comes back but let's not all hold our breath over it, okay? Also in the market for a skilled wing: Every other team that is buying.

San Jose Sharks: Potential hockey-best-pals relationship that could theoretically play out and be bigger than Richards/Carter: Nash/Thornton. Those dudes love each other. Is that worth Logan Couture and a bunch of other stuff? Probably not.

St. Louis Blues: The Blues started their six-game road trip with a pair of 3-2 shootout wins over Nashville and Winnipeg, and now sit a mere two points behind Detroit for the division lead.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Hat trick afternoon, the second three-goal game this month, for Marty St. Louis, who now has nine straight 20-goal seasons.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Remember when James Reimer was the Leafs' goalie of the future? Neither do their fans.

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks have the most points in the league right now, so that seems like a perfectly good time to remind everyone that they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals last year and even though it took the maximum of seven games to eliminate them, they are still losers with a lot to prove.

Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin returned to the lineup Friday night and the Capitals suddenly scored eight goals in two games, allowing just three. Ovie has a goal and two assists in those contests. It's all turning around now!!

Winnipeg Jets: Congratulations to the Winnipeg media for writing its 10,000th "Sure the Jets lots but boy do they ever try hard!" story of the season. A remarkable milestone for an expansion team. Oh, what's that? Huh.

Gold Star Award

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Evgeni Malkin is playing at an absurdly high level. Best player on the planet right now.

Minus of the Weekend

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Martin Brodeur wants to play another year, but he gave up four goals on 16 shots today and, as Cam Charron points out, now boasts a save percentage nine points below replacement-level at just .901.

Play of the Weekend
Oh like there was any doubt.

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week

User "SeanPuff34" has a plan.

To NYI:
Matt Carle

To PHI:
Mark Eaten (sic)
Al Montoya
+Conditional pick if they resign him

Signoff

Such things go by friendship in a rush like this.

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness rather infrequently over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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