Playoff Recaps

Calgary Flames Shutout Dallas Stars in Emotional Series Opener

The Flames take game one in Calgary, shutting out the Stars 1-0. There was no love lost between these two and the ten penalties between them made that clear.

Elias Lindholm opened the scoring for the Flames with a powerplay goal in the first period. That would not be the end of the excitement. Matthew Tkachuk made friends with Michael Raffl and things only escalated from there. After being assessed for fighting majors, Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson and John Klingberg took things into their own hands. Both were assessed for a fighting major as well as a game misconduct.

Jacob Markstrom did not have a heavy workload which ended up working in his favor.. The defense had a lot of work cut out for them after losing their half of their top pairing. The team had to adjust on the fly and did it without any bumps in the road

.The Stars were not able to generate a shot until 11:06 into the first period and ended up being outshot 26-16.

Emotions are heightened during playoff hockey. Everyone is hungry and wanting it as much as the next guy. The Stars eliminated the Flames back in 2020. The Stars’ strong suit was forcing the Flames to take penalties. They were an undisciplined team that couldn’t bury a beach ball. We saw glimpses of that Flames team tonight.

Even strength scoring seemed to get lost in the shuffle. The Flames were killing penalties left and right so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt there. This could be a cause for concern down as the postseason rolls on. Good teams tighten up their game in the postseason. They aren’t giving opponents the man advantage.

Game 2 will call for more discipline and even strength goals. The Flames will be back home at the Saddledome on Thursday.

NHL Previews

Monahan Sees Promotion in Montreal

The Calgary Flames look to bounce back in Montreal after the San Jose Sharks snapped their 10 game point.

The Flames start another five game road trip tonight against the 3-10-1 Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens are sitting in last place in the Atlantic Division with just seven points in 14 games.

Head coach Dominique Ducharme, confirms that Ryan Poehling is in for Cedric Paquette who has been placed on the IR. Jake Allen will start in net.

Jacob Markstrom will be in net for the Flames tonight.

Sean Monahan gets a promotion to the second line after centering the fourth line. He will center Blake Coleman and Andrew Mangiapane, who are also making the jump to top six.

Monahan is coming off a neglected injury and another invasive hip surgery that caused him to delay his preseason. He looks to bounce back after a career low ten goal season.

Players to watch
Milan Lucic: 4g 2a. We have seen flashes of Milan Lucic from a decade ago which have sparked the excitement and success of the Flames.

Dillon Dube: Dube is back on the wing tonight after the center experiment ( temporarily ) comes to an end. He slots in next to Mikael Backlund and Trevor Lewis.

Nick Suzuki: The first round pick leads the Canadiens with 14 points.

Lines have been set per Eric Francis:









Free Agency NHL

Blake Coleman Looks To Rejuvenate The Flames Forward Group

Blake Coleman signed a six year deal with the Calgary Flames with an AAV of $4.9m. Coleman is coming off of back to back Stanley Cup wins with the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Coleman was drawing interest from Boston and Calgary but ultimately Calgary won the sweepstakes. When assessing the Flames to do list, finding a 200 foot top six winger is up there. Coleman hit the market and General Manager Brad Treliving hit the ground running. 

The 29 year old is listed as a center but plays on the left wing. He has not played as a center for a while and his numbers explain why. His faceoff win % was 22.2% last season. It’s highly unlikely he will ever be utilized down the middle. 

The only reason he was a bottom six player with Tampa is because of how stacked their roster was. He will find a home on the left wing somewhere in the top or middle six. One could assume he’ll be on a line with Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund. They’re solid players who hustle and can play at both ends of the ice. This would be an ideal fit to start the season.

The 29 year old is exactly the player Darryl Sutter likes. He’s a hard worker who grinds and doesn’t stop. Coleman eats a lot of minutes and makes an impact through every shift. His success on that third line in Tampa speaks for itself. There is an energy to him that the Flames team is lacking. 

With Mark Giordano gone, the Flames have a void in leadership. There is an evident disconnect in the locker room. Coleman can’t wave a magic wand and fix the supposed divide but I do think he is someone who can command a room. He can preach about what rewards come with hard work. The recent success will speak louder than someone who won a championship a decade ago. The locker room should look at Coleman with googly eyes and hang onto every word he says. If they want to win, they will emulate his work ethic. They’ll want to model their game after him. 

There was a lot of initial concern for the backend of this contract. Six years is quite a long time for anyone but especially someone who turns 30 about a month into the season. You can’t focus on the back end of the deal. Look at the first three to four years. It’s reported he has a full no movement clause for the first three and then it is lifted for season four and beyond. There’s no need to overthink this move. It’s not an overpay by any means. This is a major improvement for the Flames forward group and will be a difference maker in this coming season. This is what gives your team an edge to get to the postseason. Now, I’m not saying you’ll have a deep run just because of this elevation in your roster but it does give you more to work with. 

Coleman told the media that he and his wife chatted with team members and their wives when making a decision. Ultimately, they wanted to be around “good people” and the Flames family welcomed them with open arms.


Sean Monahan Needed To Be Traded A Long Time Ago

The Calgary Flames have been toying with the idea of moving one of their core pieces for what feels like three offseasons now. When discussing core members, people are mainly referring to Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano, and more than likely Matthew Tkachuk. With the Seattle Kraken more than likely taking Giordano, the Flames need to evaluate the forward group and why he shouldn’t be the only core piece they move away from. 

The lack of production from the forwards is a cause for concern throughout the regular season but as well at the postseason. Johnny Gaudreau has 8 postseason goals in 30 games. He went without a goal in the 2016-17 as well as the 2018-19 run. He is top five in the league for even strength goal scorers. While he has appeared to have a streaky stretch here and there, you have to consider who he is carrying. While most of the time it is Monahan centering him, he often has a washed up AHL player on the right wing. We’ve seen Zac Rinaldo and Brett Ritchie try to make a permanent home there and it never works. 

Adjustments were made when Monahan’s season came to a close. Gaudreau saw time on the top line consisting of Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk. Gaudreau was playing the way one might expect Johnny Hockey to play. When you elevate a player and surround them with similar talent you are setting them up for success rather than holding them back. He had 10 points in his last 10 games. That first line is a recipe for success if you ask me. 

 Sean Monahan has had an unfortunate string of injuries plague his career. The 26 year old has had a number of surgeries that are a cause for concern for any hockey player. Back in 2016 he needed wrist surgery. At the end of the Flames playoff run in 2018, Monahan disclosed that he needed a number of procedures including, two hernia surgeries, surgically repairing a groin, as well as another wrist surgery. Fast forward to May 2021 and it’s reported that the first round draft pick needed hip surgery. 

Expectations heading into the season were high for Monahan. It was time for him to finally take the leap to the top line but alas the season was nothing to write home about. Monahan underperformed with just 10 goals and 18 assists. His CORSI was 55.5% which is just above the 50% threshold. In all honesty, one would expect him to be performing at a higher level. 

Assuming Monahan is ready for the season come October, his performance may still be lacking. Recovering from hip surgery takes a while and is not anything that should be rushed. The difference between cleared to play and healed is probably one million miles. We’ve seen players like David Pastrnak come back immediately from hip surgery and have a down year. It took David Krejci two seasons to fully heal and get back up to caliber. 

The Flames should have moved Monahan well before this. 

His trade value right now is 0. You can’t move a guy who is having that serious of a surgery. Teams don’t trade for a player whose season ended due to an injury. It’s common sense. However, with a string of surgeries and a down year, the Flames are going to be out for some time to come. Hindsight is 20/20. I’m no expert but something tells me that you could’ve seen this coming. It’s going to be harder to move a player with a laundry list of injuries and surgeries than it would have been after the 2018-19 season. 

Losing Giordano in the expansion draft does a lot more harm than you might expect, especially now that you can’t move your core’s weakest link. The Flames have their work cut out for them and it’s up to Brad Treliving to take the Flames from mediocre to a competitor.

NHL Playoff Recaps

Tampa Bay Lightning Set Their Sights On Repeat

The Tampa Bay Lightning are headed back to the Stanley Cup Final. They will go on and face the Montreal Canadiens starting Monday night at 8:00pm EST. 

Yanni Gourde scored the lone goal of the game. The shorthanded goal was Gourde’s 5th of the postseason. Assists went to Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn. 

Shots were 31-18 in favor of Tampa Bay. The New York Islanders were not generating solid scoring chances. Through sixty, they only generated six high danger chances. The Islanders have not won a conference final since 1984. They lost in 1993, 2020, and 2021. Tampa Bay however has appeared in the last three of four conference finals. 

Islanders goalie, Seymon Varmalov had 29 saves on the night. He came up big for the Islanders early on in the game. The series belonged to the goalie. Aside from the abysmal game 5 performance, he won games for New York. The blueline deserves a round of applause for their performance and effort throughout the postseason as well. 

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy earned his fourth shutout of the postseason. It was his fifth career postseason shutout, and he is the first goalie to have three shutouts in series winning games. All of these have occurred since Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. 

Nikita Kucherov, who was injured in game six, was in the lineup for game seven. Kucherov played just one shift Wednesday night. This will be the third straight Stanley Cup Final appearance for Pat Maroon. 2019, with St. Louis and the last two years with Tampa. 

Puck drops Monday night. The underdog and super team will face off for the ultimate prize. Who will lift Le Coupe Stanley?

NHL Playoff Recaps

Islanders Force A Game 7 with OT Winner

If you have Friday night plans, I hope you’re ready to clear your schedule… or find a place with a television.The Islanders completed the comeback and forced a game seven. You know what they say. A two goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost Nikita Kucherov after one shift. The injury appeared to have happened after an uncalled cross-check. An unfinished check on Islander’s Mat Barzal sealed the deal and sent the star down the tunnel. 

Tampa was first to strike. Brayden Point extended his goal streak to 9 games. Anthony Cirelli extended the lead in the second period. The Islanders wouldn’t have to worry about seeing a second straight shutout thanks to Jordan Eberle notching New York’s first goal. The New York Islanders power play failed to capitalize on three opportunities. It’s not about Tampa’s penalty kill being that good. It’s about the power play being that bad. 

Scott Mayfield has been a thorn in the Lightning’s side just about all series. He would prove to be an even bigger one after he tied the game a little over halfway through the final frame. Matt Martin irresponsibly high sticked Pat Maroon sent the Bolts to a power play. Things weren’t clicking for the Lightning and the Islanders killed it off. 

A turnover from Blake Coleman gave Beauvillier the chance to bury it in the net. Islanders fans started throwing cans and bottles onto the ice. No one knows what it means but it was provocative. 

The Islanders outshot the Lightning 28-24. If the Islanders want to make the next step to the Stanley Cup Finals, they need to play that full sixty minutes of hockey game. They are a second period team but that won’t win you the series or a championship. The best option is to continue to shoot the puck and stop taking avoidable penalties. Is this the year that New York finally leaves the conference finals and takes the leap to the finals?

NHL Playoff Recaps

Lightning Strike 8 Times To Take 3-2 Series Lead

Pivotal game five means you play for your life from start to finish. The Tampa Bay Lightning did just that. They will head back to New York with a 3-2 series lead after an 8-0 win over the Islanders. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning had a dominant first period. Captain Steven Stamkos scored less than a minute into the frame. Seymon Varmolv has now allowed five goals in the first five minutes of a game. That number seems high considering how well he has played. Three of those goals come from the previous series against Boston. Yanni Gourde earned his fourth of the season giving the Lightning a 2 goal lead. The goal was unassisted but it was deflected off of Islanders defenseman, Andy Green. The Islanders could not find any luck through the first period. They had just 5 shots on goal while Tampa Bay earned 19. Alex Killorn put the Lightning up 3-0 to end the period. 

The Lightning had an odd man rush just about every single shift during the first period. Islanders turnovers and patience allowed the Lightning to have quite the successful first. 

TAs most games in the series, the second frame was electric .Ilya Sorokin replaced Varlamov in net. Sorokin received a shot up high and told head coach Barry Trotz he would be staying in. Mat Barzal cross-checked Jan Rutta in the face and was tossed from the game. If you recall, Barzal cross-checked David Krejci last series and it went uncalled. Because he was given a 5 minute major and game misconduct, it will be reviewed by the Department of Player Safety.The Lightning scored another three goals. The Lightning power play would get a chance to shine tonight. While the Islanders served two penalties, Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn scored. Ondrej Palat scored the only even strength goal of the period. 

The Islanders would not be able to fend off the Lightning’s power play as Brayden Point made it 7-0 with his 13th goal of the postseason. Luke Schenn extended the lead, 8 goals to none with eight minutes left in the game. Barclay Goodrow cross checked Casey Cizikas who went down like a ton of bricks.. An obviously frustrated Islanders team attempted to retaliate. The Islanders would not be able to capitalize on the man advantage. Shots were 40-21 Tampa.

Stick taps for the Lightning as Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brayden Point hit milestones. Tonight was Vasy’s 4th career postseason shutout.. Prior to tonight, they all came in elimination games. According to Sportsnet Stats, Brayden Point becomes the second player in NHL postseason history to have a goal streak of more than 7 in a single postseason.

 A slice of humble pie was served to the Islanders and their fans after a humiliating performance in game 5. The series goes back to New York where the Islanders would need to do a complete 180 to force a game seven.

NHL Playoff Recaps

Islanders Feel Pressure as Tampa Takes 2-1Series Lead

Tampa Bay take the series lead in game three at Nassau Coliseum with a 2-1 win. The Bolts have won back to back games as the New York Islanders fall behind 1-2 in the series. For what it’s worth, they fell behind against Pittsburgh and Boston as well.

Tampa Bay dominated the first period. They outshot New York 11-7 through the first twenty. The Lightning were able to avoid trips to the penalty box but they were also silenced on any power play opportunities as well. Yanni Gourde buried the first puck of the night. Tampa led by 1 after the first frame. 

The Islanders spent a majority of the night fighting in front of the net. They never let up and played until a whistle was blown. There was a time or two where I thought it would’ve been blown but the Islanders never hesitated. That relentlessness led to the Islanders tying it up.  Cal Clutterbuck scored his fourth of the postseason. Tampa found themselves on the power play when Adam Pelech went to the box for interference. Tampa was without a shot on goal for 11 minutes and didn’t find luck until the power play. Special teams must be out of practice because Tampa would not capitalize on the man addvantage. That would not stop the Lightning from finding luck in Brayden Point’s fall as he passed the puck to Anthony Cirelli who was in the paint and scored. I was a bit surprised to see this goal go unchallenged. I thought that there might have been some goalie contact but Barry Trotz might’ve had a better seat. Neither team had a shot on goal through 4 minutes to start the period. 

The final frame was uneventful. The Islanders had some attempts but could not finish. It appeared that the team wasn’t on the same page. The Islanders ran into each other a few times tonight which does not bode well. Are they cracking under the semi finals pressure? They need to get back to being a cohesive unit if they expect to hang with the Lightning. I don’t see the Bolts letting up and they aren’t known for playing lazy hockey. The clock is ticking. 

NHL Playoff Recaps

Islanders Take Game 1 On The Road, Silencing Amalie Arena

The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning met for the first time in nine months. We’re seeing a repeat of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals and both teams look like they’re ready to win. The Islanders would come out on top in game 1 in Tampa 2-1. Ahead of the series, it seemed fair to award both teams with  praise for their physicality, competitiveness, and skill. Discipline would not be among that list as Tampa Bay’s penalty kill did have to come out to play and of course New York’s unruliness from the previous series. One of the biggest takeaways I have from this season of hockey is that both the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning take a decent amount of penalties. The difference is that Tampa is good enough to win.

In true Tampa Bay fashion, Andrei Vakilveskviy put on a goaltending clinic. He saved 14 shots through the first period. Semyon Varlamov saved 11 shots, not allowing the sneaky lightning to strike. The Islanders power play did strike three times as Barclay Goodrow and Ryan McDonough earned time in the penalty box. New York served a penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct eight seconds into the game. 

Tampa Bay was called for a tripping penalty against Mat Barzal. Though the Islanders could not cash in on that man advantage, they would find themselves in a bit of luck. Josh Bailey fed Barzal a beautiful pass to give the Islanders the lead. Bailey is now tied with postseason points with JG Pageau. Per NHL PR, the Islanders have six goals by defenseman this postseason and are tied with Vegas and Carolinafor the most among all teams.Tampa’s power play made another lackluster appearance when Kyle Palmeiri served a penalty for interference. The Islanders took the 1 goal lead into the final 20. 

Shots remained in the favor of the Islanders 23-20 as the third period began. Varlamov came out making big saves as the Islanders appeared to be losing steam. Ryan Pulock scored the second Islanders goal of the afternoon, rejuvenating the Islanders. It appeared to be a routine shot that Vasy would have saved in any other game.  It appeared that a majority of the air was let out of Tampa’s tires as they attempted to complete the comeback. Halfway through the third period, Varmalov had 26 saves on the day.  A late third period penalty would send Tampa Bay to the power play.Brayden Point cut the deficit in half with a minute remaining. Game 2 is on Tuesday at 8:00pm.

NHL Playoff Recaps

Tampa Bay One Step Closer To Repeating

The Tampa Bay Lightning claim the second spot in the Semi Finals after shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes at home. Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 29 shots and received quite the praise from Carolina coach, Rod Brind’Amor.

The Carolina Hurricanes biggest problem throughout the series was the amount of penalties they took. Their penalty was exposed by Tampa Bay. The Lightning struck 8 times on the power play through six games.

Brayden Point scored the first goal of the night on the power play. Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov were credited with the assists. Point leads the team in scoring with 8 goals.

Ross Colton, who spent quite some time with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse Crunch scored the game winning goal. This is his first career playoff run. Through 11 games he has scored 3 goals and tallied 1 assist. He is one of two players who was not on the Stanley Cup team last season.

Carolina won the division but what Tampa did not have was their not so secret weapon, Kucherov. He missed the regular season do to recovering from hip surgery. Hip surgery is something that takes quite some time to heal. We’ve seen players rush back after surgery and end up re-injured. While holding Kucherov out was also to circumvent the cap, it is also still very legal. Kucherov currently has 5 goals through the postseason.

The Carolina Hurricanes have had quite the playoff run these last few years. In 2019, Carolina made the playoffs for the first time in years and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They were swept by the Boston Bruins and have yet to have a deep run since. They have the right pieces but have yet to find the best formulation for complete success.

Tampa Bay will go on to play the winner of the New York Islanders Boston Bruins series. New York could advance tonight unless Boston forces a game 7.