February 08 2016 12:00PM
There was a lot of optimism surrounding this road trip after the Heat had strung together seven straight home wins, including a win against Pacific Division-leading Ontario. However, the Heat came out flat in both games this weekend, dropping a pair of games against teams near them in the standings.
Again, the Heat struggled to generate offence with one exception: Derek Grant, who is almost certainly the greatest goal scorer since Mike Bossy. In both games this weekend, Grant scored flukey goals because he cannot stop scoring. It may be a medical condition...
Come and read about the weekend after the jump!
February 08 2016 10:00AM
With the trade deadline three weeks away, the Calgary Flames face four decisions with pending unrestricted free agent players. In each situation, the Flames need to decide whether to make a move prior to the deadline or to keep the player beyond February 29th with the eye to potentially re-signing him. Each case is different which is why we'll take a look at all four players.
We'll start with Karri Ramo, because I think he presents the most interesting case. There are compelling cases on each side, so what makes the most sense for Ramo's future?
February 08 2016 08:00AM
The big topic for Flames fans remains the trade deadline. Calgary's players and management are still solely focused on an unlikely playoff drive (chances at about 16% after the win over the Canucks), but pragmatism has begun to sink in for just about everyone else.
I've actually liked how the Flames have played post-All Star Game. If the team can continue to play at this level, it should result in one of two positive outcomes: either they go on a fantastical run and make the post-season or they fall short and their collection of sellable assets grows in value.
After this season, Calgary is entering into the "get competitive" phase of any competent rebuild. As such, it may be their final chance to leverage a mass "selloff" at the trade deadline. Here's hoping if the playoff bid falls short they'll be able to collect some noteworthy pieces instead - something they too often failed to do at the onset of the current restructuring project.
This week in the mailbag we look at what the Flames should be selling and targeting at the deadline.
February 07 2016 12:00PM
Johnny Gaudreau is, clearly, an incredible player. Not even two seasons into his career, and he already has 114 points to his name. In just his sophomore year, he's been hovering around point-per-game status all season, and is tied for top 10 in NHL scoring. All that, and he's only 22 years old - not to mention one of the smallest players in the league.
Gaudreau's size has been the most frequent criticism of him, and it's even reached out to his scoring stats. Clearly, he can put the puck in the net - at home. Thirty-six of his 49 points so far this season have come at home, while he's only scored 13 points on the road.
A coach can control match-ups at home, which could account for Gaudreau's greater success at home than on the road this season: a suggestion that because he is smaller, he needs to be sheltered in order to play as an elite player. But is this actually the case?
February 07 2016 08:00AM
Photo credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports
And lo, just when the Flames fall into a six-way tie for last place in the NHL, they snatch up another two points and get themselves in a tie with Winnipeg as the teams with the third-worst points record in the league.
The better fate the Flames deserved against Columbus came against Vancouver. The Flames were roughly controlling play until they scored; once they were on the board, the Canucks finally kicked it into gear. (Though you'd suspect if it had been the other way around, the Flames would've been the one generating more shot attempts.) (They still only had four over the final 11:44 of the second period, which, yikes.)
They generally played well. When they didn't, Jonas Hiller did. Throw in a couple of empty net goals and Calgary got themselves an out-of-proportion score (and are now 22nd in the NHL in goal differential! Moving on up).