When did the Calgary Flames become one of the best teams in Hockey? I want to say they quietly inserted themselves into the conversation but truth be told they have been pretty loud about it.They always seem to have a bit of controversy around their success. A few years ago Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Dougie Hamilton and Deryk Engelland threatened to be one of the deepest defence corps in the league. Now Noah Hanifin & Travis Hamonic have upgraded that defence nucleus. Serviceable goaltending from Mike Smithand even better from David Rittich has vaulted them into the conversation about elite teams.
If the season ended today the Pittsburgh Penguins would miss the playoffs. I think all Eastern Conference teams would be very happy to see that. It’s less about spite than it is about not wanting to meet Malkin and Crosby in the playoffs. Also, there’s always a chance Matt Murray remembers how to play nets at the right time. Montreal, Columbus or the Islanders are all in playoff positions right now. I can’t help but think Tampa Bay would prefer one of them as a reward for winning the President’s Trophy.
The Axe fell on Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol this week. Ron Hextall’s ouster a few months beforehand indicated that things weren’t going so well at the top in Philly. That said, I don’t feel like they have the talent to compete right now. Carter Hart’s first start was promising, but goaltending being Philly’s Achilles Heel seems as ingrained into the organization’s culture as their penchant for violence Joel Quenneville was strongly rumoured to be the new Philly bench boss instead of Scott Gordon.A few news outlets even claimed that it was a done deal. Quenneville’s a great coach as evidenced by Chicago’s contrite sentiments about his firing and subsequent freefall in the standings.
Interesting subtext to the fight between Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan in the recent Ottawa Senators overtime victory over the Nashville Predators. Ryan said he fought Turris because he slashed at Ryan’s hands knowing they had injury issues. So then he had a bareknuckle brawl? I’m sure that was good for his hands too. I think there was some bubbling over animosity from when they shared a locker room. Thomas Chabot scored the overtime winner. Is Chabot in the Norris conversation? Like, Ottawa is a bubble team when they should be a lottery team and the unheralded Chabot is tied with Morgan Rielly for the defenceman scoring lead. Leaf announcers keep talking up Rielly for the Norris but I don’t see it. I still think points shouldn’t carry as much weight when handing out the best defenceman award. Erik Karlsson, we hardly knew ye….oh no wait we did and you didn’t deserve it.