There’s two weeks left in the major-junior season. Eight days until the NHL trade deadline. About a week or so left in the NCAA season.
We’re getting down to brass tacks, gang. Here’s your weekly rundown.
First off, check out this epic piece from The Atlantic website by Chris Koentges on the Oracle of Finnish goaltending. Joni Ortio and the great Miikka Kiprusoff are discussed in-depth.
Next up, the NCAA’s own website describes, in great detail, how great Johnny Gaudreau presently is. (He briefly considered joining the Flames this year, according to this piece.)
Finally, Mikael Backlund is wearing a Hockey Canada t-shirt all week despite being a Swede because he lost a bet and is a man of his word.
The Heat finished off a hectic five-game road trip this week without their top goalie, Joni Ortio. Oh, and a few other guys (Ben Street and Blair Jones, notably) got hurt over the weekend. This bunch is hurtin’ right now. They beat Milwaukee 4-2 on Friday, then sputtered in a 5-3 loss the next day in Chicago, and then were largely flat in a 2-0 Sunday loss to Chicago. Nothing much can be learned from this roadie, so burn the tape and hope everybody gets healthy before the NHL trade deadline.
But hey, four points for Brett Olson over the weekend. He’s pushing for an NHL contract. Sven Baertschi had a goal. Up in Alaska, the Aces won two of three against the Bakersfield Condors. Turner Elson had a goal in Wednesday’s game, then got called up to the AHL.
In better news, many prospects had good weeks. Regina Pats forward Morgan Klimchuk put up a seven point week, including a hat-trick, and was named WHL Player of the Week for his efforts. Providence College pivot Mark Jankowski had two goals, both of them game-winners, as Providence College desperately tries to get into a first-round bye position in Hockey East. Boston College has already sewn up their first overall spot but didn’t lose anyway – they had a win and a tie. Johnny Gaudreau extended his points streak to a million games (okay, 28) with a pair of goals. He leads all collegiate hockey playing persons in the United States in goals, assists, points and being nifty with the puck. Yale’s Kenny Agostino and Brandon’s Eric Roy each had three assists. Swift Current’s Coda Gordon and Gatineau’s Emile Poirier each had four points.
A LOOK AHEAD
The Flames kick off the last 24 games of their schedule with a pair of games this week – Thursday hosting the LA Kings and Saturday visiting the dastardly Edmonton Oilers up in Shelbyville. In a weird occurrence, neither game is on Sportsnet (Thursday is TSN, Saturday is CBC). And remember, the trade deadline is next week – Wednesday, March 5.
On the farm, the Abbotsford Heat are without their top goalie (Joni Ortio) and their top scorer (Markus Granlund), but they’re back at home and get a few days off. They’ll host the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday and Saturday. The Alaska Aces presently lack any Flames properties, but they’ll be in action on the road against Idaho (Wednesday) and Utah (Friday and Saturday).
It’s the last weekend of the NCAA schedule. Providence College can earn a bye with a pair of wins over Maine. By the looks of it, all Flames college and junior prospects are in playoff spots. We’ll preview the various playoff pictures as we get closer, starting with the NCAA playoff picture next week as we kick off “Gaudreau Watch 2014” in earnest.