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. And, well, there's a ton of other crap for me to blather on about too. And yes, I'm totally ripping off just about every other blogger ever's weekly column, but that's something you'll have to deal with on your own time.
I remember the day after the trade deadline. The Calgary Flames had just made the biggest deal of the season, acquiring their long-sought "No. 1 center for Jarome Iginla(notes)." And since that date, Calgary has won just two of its six games.
Why? The answer is obvious, especially to me and a certain player-turned-TSN anchor: Olli Jokinen(notes).
Jokinen may be putting up HUGE numbers since his acquisition -- he had a hat trick and five points Saturday against Toronto and now has eight goals and two assists in the six games with Calgary -- but just LOOK at this unraveling defense and try to tell me this doesn't look a lot like the early stages of Locker Room Cancer.
First and foremost, the Flames have gone 2-4-0 in the games in which Jokinen has played. An unacceptable number. Does it remind anyone else of, say, those teams in Florida or Phoenix before the deadline? It should.
Second, what happened to the team defense!? It has allowed 28 goals in its last six games (an average of 4.67 per), but only allowed 2.95 per game before the deadline. What does this tell you about what Jokinen does to a team's morale? The defensemen on his team clearly hate him! He doesn't block shots and he doesn't try hard and he only worries about his personal stats (eight goals in six games? How about passing the puck?).
Clearly he's also had a negative affect on Miikka Kiprusoff(notes), whose stats were very good before this acquisition. He has played in five of the six games since the deadline and the Flames are 2-3-0 in those because he allowed 20 goals in just 262:25 on just 151 shots. Maybe he's so distracted by his fellow countryman, who is constantly trying to steal the spotlight from Jarome Iginla and Calgary's other stars,that he cannot concentrate on the pucks being shot at him.
And let's not forget about the mindboggling effect Jokinen has had on Mike Keenan. He is suddenly making Mad Mike -- his former coach and GM, the one who turned the Finnish center from scrub to star through lots of scolding -- turn in one bad decision after another. Keenan even ADMITTED IT after the Toronto loss.
"It's my fault for even playing him because of what he had to go through and the work he had the last game," said the Calgary coach of his decision to start the overused Kiprusoff once again. "I take full credit for probably starting the wrong goaltender. He looked a little bit fatigued, and rightfully so. I probably made a mistake by playing him. I shouldn't have played him."
Keenan may be a lot of things, but disloyal is not one of them. He was extra-careful not to implicate his old running buddy, who's pulling all the strings behind the scenes, working an entire organization like a puppet show for his own sick, odd-looking amusement.
Whatever Jokinen has done to Calgary is deplorable. When the Flames return home on Wednesday after this pathetic seven-game, 14-day road trip, I hope he gets the greeting he deserves.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Last night was Travis Moen's(notes) first game back in Anaheim after being traded to the Sharks on deadline day. Emotions running high and all that. Moen, after all, played with the Ducks for four years. The Ducks honored Moen with a tribute video during the first television timeout. Class move by the Ducks there, especially considering Moen isn't exactly Anaheim's all-time points leader.
Atlanta Thrashers: One thing I really like about Atlanta is its ownership's willingness to make people do Q&A's with the Journal-Constitution that they know could get a bit hostile. Bruce Levenson, who reps the ownership group at the Board of Governor meetings, did one such interview earlier this week that I don't think got much attention.
The other big mistake is maybe trying to go too fast in building a winner here. I think we made the same mistake every new owner makes in that regard. ... We were worried that in non-traditional hockey markets that it would be a lot harder coming out of the lockout to bring back the fans than it was in traditional hockey markets.
The only allowance for wiggle room is Regier or Ruff doing something completely out of character, such as getting thrown in jail. Assuming they're breathing and not in the clink, they will continue their stretch next season as the longest-tenured GM/coach combination currently in the NHL.
Buffalo fans are now actively hoping one of them drunk drives through an elementary school playground at noon on a Monday.
Calgary Flames: Olli Jokinen is obviously getting a lot of press since the trade, and understandably so. But how about giving some to Jarome Iginla? Over the last 13 games, he's scored 11-11-22. No one in the Western Conference has more points in the last month. (That 8-6 loss to Toronto on Saturday goes unaddressed in this space only for the safety of myself and those around me.)
Carolina Hurricanes: Hoo-boy, did I get a dressing down last week from Canes Country (I think they thought I was Wyshynski, though) for having the gall to criticize Eric Staal(notes) in this space last week. From now on, then, I will only lavish praise upon the Hurricanes so as not to offend those sensitive to having their favorite team questioned in any way.
This week's Life-Affirming Hurricane Thought: "Going 0-1-2 in the last three might not help those playoff hopes, but at least they're trying hard !!! :)"
Chicago Blackhawks: I am a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, and, since I have no better place to put this, my beloved hockey River Hawks are headed to the Hockey East semifinals for the first time in seven years after sweeping No. 7 Vermont in a best-of-three series. In Vermont. Just figured I'd gloat about it since the 'Hawks are the reason I became a hockey fan in the first place.
How's this tie in with Chicago? Chris Auger, a Blackhawks sixth-round pick in 2006 who had missed half the year with an injury he sustained at Chicago's rookie camp, scored Lowell's first goal. So there you have it.
Sure, Tavares would look nice in an Avalanche uniform. But having 15 or so competent players in an Avalanche uniform is also nice.
I don't see why it can't be both. Continue trying to tank it, guys, because I don't see a very strong base with the Avs upon which to build. Their top two scorers this year, Ryan Smyth(notes) and Milan Hejduk(notes), aren't getting any younger; and, at 109 combined points, aren't even doing that much scoring. The next-closest is 22-year-old Wojtek Wolski(notes), who has 14 goals and 24 assists. Production like that won't get you into the playoffs, especially with Colorado's goaltending situation being what it is (i.e. awful).
"My boy Fedor Tyutin(notes) with the sickest (slap?) shot," is absolutely, positively in the running for least probable lyric ever rapped. Credit to whoever sings this, by the way, for rhyming "forecheck," "Raffi Torres," and "Jason Voorhees." That's an accomplishment that stretches the borders of the English language dangerously close to permanently breaking.
Dallas Stars: I think I found the oddest thing in the hockey blogosphere: This guy seems to have somehow commandeered part of the old Dallas Stars' URL. Going to blog.dallasstars.com brings you to his site, which is pretty funny. Going to dallasstars.com itself brings you to the Stars' actual website. I think this guy is some sort of internet genius.
Edmonton Oilers: Jason Gregor at OilersNation believes that Craig MacTavish has to continue to play Dustin Penner(notes) despite the obvious dislike for him because he's the team's best option on the first line. And if you have to say that about your favorite team, that's a sad state of affairs.
Los Angeles Kings: I felt genuinely bad for Erik Ersberg(notes) Saturday night. This poor kid makes 38 saves and holds the San Jose Sharks (!) to one goal in regulation and overtime, THEN forces seven rounds of a shootout. And still loses. Even worse, the Kings had a 2-on-0 shorthanded rush in the third and somehow failed to even put a shot on net.