December 16 2016 08:00AM
Let me preface this by saying I think Garnet Hathaway is great.
He has a role, and he performs it to a tee. He's a fourth line energy guy who gets under the opponent's skin. He can keep up with the game, but the 9:16 he's currently averaging in ice time is about where he should be at. He can fight if the situation calls for it - he's done so three times already this season. And while fighting Dustin Byfuglien may have been ill-advised from a personal standpoint, if he can get better players off the ice for five minutes, then that's a victory within the game.
There's a place for the Hathaways of the game, more so than that of previous heavyweights who couldn't play. Hathaway can, and that's an important distinction. But it's a very small one - and that's why teams have to be careful with players of his ilk.
December 15 2016 08:00AM
Unfortunately, all good things must one day come to an end. The Flames' winning streak was no exception.
It's not that they played badly, it's that-- Well, yes, they did. But they started off well, and about halfway through the first period, the Flames fell and couldn't seem to get back up. They only found life in the third period after they gave up a backbreaking shorthanded goal seconds into it, and they simply weren't able to capitalize beyond a brief flutter.
The good news is that literally every single team ever assembled in the history of every sport ever is prone to bad games. It's how they respond to those - and how they limit the number they have - that dictates whether or not said team is actually bad. And that's where the Flames' unfortunate start to the season comes back to bite them, because their margin for error is very slim.
December 14 2016 02:00PM
Divisional wins have always been important under the NHL, but ever since the new playoff format, they've been even moreso.
It doesn't matter how bad you are: as long as you're a top three team in your division, you're in the playoffs. So sure, winning in general is important. But winning in regulation against divisional opponents creates a four-point swing, which is even more crucial.
In 2014-15, the Flames kicked ass against the rest of the Pacific, and it helped them find their way to the top three (particularly by sweeping the Coyotes and Oilers). In 2015-16, they did not do as well, and in fact the 10 points they left on the board against those two teams would have been enough to put them in the playoffs.
So winning is important, but winning against your own division, even more so. Let's take a look at this season's edition of the Flames versus the Pacific, currently in progress.
December 12 2016 12:00PM
Jarome Iginla is 39 years old, and he still has not won a Stanley Cup.
He's playing in his 20th season. It's been 1,501 games, 614 goals, 1,280 points. This is a surefire first ballot hall of famer. He's been an all-star several times over, he has a King Clancy Award, a Lester B. Pearson Trophy, a Rocket Richard and an Art Ross. He should have a Hart Trophy. He should have a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe, too.
But he doesn't. And time is running out.
Iginla is 39 years old. His best days are behind him. He appears to be dropping off quite significantly: the guy you used to be able to count on for 30 goals a season, easy, is on pace for nine this year. He's several steps slower. It's ending.
And yet, no Stanley Cup.
He hasn't been with the Flames since the 2013 lockout season. He's on his third team since then. It was unthinkable to imagine Iginla wearing any other team's jersey; now, it's just a fact of life that's been ongoing for nearly four years.
But he played 16 seasons with the Flames. He holds most of the franchise's records. He almost singlehandedly dragged them out of obscurity. He came as close as he ever has to winning with them. His best years were spent in Calgary. And all things being just in this world, he retires a Flame one way or another.
The Colorado Avalanche aren't winning anything this year. They're horrendous; it's December, and they're still among the very worst teams in the NHL. This could very well be it for Iggy, and so, he is reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause.
We have to at least talk about it.
December 11 2016 08:00AM
Winning is fun. Winning blowouts is even more fun. I assume winning a blowout without giving up a couple of inane goals at the very end of it is maximum fun, but the Flames aren't there quite yet, it would seem.
But the fact that they've won six games in a row has been a lot of fun, and that streak has seen their season officially resurrected. I'm kind of afraid for the next time they lose a game, but the way things are going right now, this is no longer a mentally weak team, and I'm sure they have it in them to keep on rolling.