Alberta bound, Alberta bound. Bound to lose, apparently. The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers each lost three consecutive games last week, and have a combined three wins in their past 21 outings. Jarome Iginla(notes) can’t find his scoring touch, and Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) can’t stay healthy. Tough times on the prairies.
Montreal and Vancouver, meanwhile, are doing just fine in the country’s eastern and western extremes, respectively. The Habs lost defenceman Andrei Markov to injury – again – but continue to get stellar netminding from Carey Price. The Canucks are back at home after surviving five road games.
Here’s a look at how the NHL’s Canadian teams fared last week – and a look ahead to what’s in store on the weekend.
The Week That Was: It might not be full-on desperation time in Calgary, but you can feel the panic approaching. The Flames lost twice to Phoenix and once to San Jose and have dropped seven of their past eight contests. How bad is it? GM Darryl Sutter resorted to selling off his own flesh and blood, trading son Brett and defenceman Ian White(notes) – a key piece in last season’s Dion Phaneuf(notes) deal – to Carolina in exchange for offensive D-man Anton Babchuk(notes) and role player Tom Kostopoulos(notes). Olli Jokinen(notes) received a three-game suspension for cross-checking Phoenix’s Wojtek Wolski(notes) in the head, but at least it gives Jokinen an excuse for not producing over the next few games. The Flames’ other so-called big guns, meanwhile, can only wish they had such a handy excuse.
The Weekend That Will Be: Calgary hosts Chicago on Friday and travels to Detroit for a Sunday matinee. In other words, the Flames go up the defending Stanley Cup champions and the team that made it to the previous two Cup finals.
The Week That Was: Call it the ‘Baffle of Alberta’: As bad as things are in Calgary, they’re worse in Edmonton. Like the Flames, the Oilers lost all three games they played last week, including an 8-2 drubbing by Sean Avery’s(notes) Rangers (more on Mr. Avery in a moment) and a 5-0 blanking by Chicago, a game in which captain Shawn Horcoff(notes) and Ales Hemsky(notes) were benched for stretches in the second and third periods. Edmonton has dropped 11 of 13; if not for the god-awful New York Islanders, the Oilers would be last in the league. As it is, they’re in the Western Conference basement and probably won’t be moving up any time soon. Wait, it gets even worse. No. 1 goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has been placed on injured reserve due to a groin strain; it was Khabibulin’s injury exit last season that precipitated the Oilers’ freefall to last place overall. The silver lining? Well, you had to be happy to see the Oilers stand up for each other against Avery and the Rangers. Avery jumped Ladislav Smid(notes) after apparently saying he didn’t want to fight, then sucker-punched Smid with a shot to the jaw that resulted in a concussion. Ryan Whitney(notes) and Theo Peckham(notes) tried to get at Avery as he was ushered off the ice; a brawl ensued with Edmonton’s Zach Stortini and the Rangers’ Brandon Prust(notes) as the main event. Oh yeah, Oilers heavyweight Steve MacIntyre(notes) fought New York monster Derek Boogaard(notes) twice in the third period before the brawl began. Good thing those teams are in separate conferences or you’d have to call in the peace-keepers.
The Week That Was: The Habs are coming off a 3-0 loss at home to Nashville, but life is still good in Montreal. The Canadiens won four in a row before the Preds came to town, including 7-2 over Carolina last Saturday and a 3-0 shutout of Philadelphia on Tuesday. Carey Price’s(notes) redemption continues, as he made 41 saves against the Flyers for his fourth whitewash of the season. Seven different players scored in the romp over the Hurricanes.
The Weekend That Will Be: Montreal hosts Toronto on Saturday night. This is the kind of game you should watch with your grandfather – or grandchildren.
The Week That Was:It was a tragic week in Ottawa, as the daughter of assistant coach Luke Richardson(notes) attempted to take her own life. Her mother found her and Daron was rushed to the hospital, but sadly it was too late. The Senators held a public memorial on Monday, with more than 5,000 people in attendance. RIP Daron Richardson.
The Weekend That Will Be: Ottawa visits St. Louis on Friday night.
The Week That Was: The Maple Leafs put an awful 1-8-3 stretch to rest with a pair of wins over Nashville and New Jersey. Notably, Toronto rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 against the Preds, scoring four power-play goals in a 10-minute span in the second period. No. 1 goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes) tweaked his groin late in the game against Nashville, but Jonas Gustavsson(notes) replaced him admirably – and then made 29 saves in a 3-1 win over the poor Devils. Top prospect Nazem Kadri(notes) had two nice assists against New Jersey, bolstering his case to remain with the team.
The Weekend That Will Be: The Maple Leafs travel to Montreal for some Original Six fun on Saturday night.
The Week That Was: The Canucks concluded a five-game eastern swing, beating Toronto 5-3 last Saturday before falling 4-3 in overtime to Buffalo on Monday and 3-1 to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Vancouver survived the trek with a 2-2-1 mark, and continues to look like the best team north of the 49th parallel.
The Weekend That Will Be: The Canucks host their arch-nemesis, the Chicago Blackhawks, on Saturday, and the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday.