Managing A Playoff Team in Transition

April 10th, 2017 | Posted in Commentary | By: D'Arcy McGrath

When the NHL instituted a salary cap in 2005 it quickly brought the end of the idea of a perfect NHL hockey team. Every NHL team is faced with limitations in assembling a roster, you can’t put high end quality in all 20 roster spots.

The 2001 Colorado Avalanche didn’t have that problem. Up the middle they had Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Stephane Yelle and Steven Reinprecht. On the wings they boasted Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, Chris Drury and Adam Deadmarsh. On the blueline they had Adam Foote, Ray Bourque, Rob Blake, Martin Skoula and Aaron Milller. Of course in net they had Patrick Roy.

They had a top end of the roster for sure, but the drop off wasn’t like the cliff that today’s general managers must manage.

The winning organizations are able to find solid talent on first year contracts, either by keeping players in the AHL to blossom longer, signing key college free agents, or by doing a bang up job of scouring Europe for those rocks that need to be overturned. But even the best organizations will eventually run into trouble. The Blackhawks have been masters at turning over their roster, while the Los Angeles Kings eventually ran out of luck and hit a wall.
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Game Takes: Sharks 3 Flames 1

April 8th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames didn’t seem to be letting on that they had any fear of playing the Chicago Blackhawks, something that could be seen in roster decisions in Los Angeles on Saturday night and again tonight in San Jose.

But the news that arrived before the game; a Predator loss in regulation was probably a sigh of relief as they took the ice knowing they had nailed down the top Wildcard spot and that their game meant nothing against the San Jose Sharks.

The game itself was fitting as it featured two teams pretending to care about a game that meant nothing, the final score a 3-1 victory for the Sharks concluding both team’s regular seasons.
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Game Takes: Flames 4 Kings 1

April 6th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Before the game began, Jon Gillies was given the opportunity to shed his training camp number for the goalie jersey digits of his choice and ironically he picked a player sitting on the bench in the very same rink; #32 of Johnathan Quick. Equally ironic was the fact that his veteran clone was 190 feet from him all night as the equally mammoth Ben Bishop tended goal for the Kings against Gillies in his first NHL start.

That’s where the comparisons ended however, as the Flames and Jon Gillies turned a dominant second period into a 4-1 win to keep pace with the Nashville Predators and regain the 1st wildcard spot in the West’s crowded playoff race.

It was feel good story night for the Flames with the Gillies first start, first win beginning, but also in goals from two players that don’t see the lineup very often in Dennis Wideman and Freddie Hamilton .
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Game Takes: Ducks 3 Flames 1

April 4th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Make it an even 25!

With the game clock winding down and the Ducks winning 3-1 the Anaheim crowd took over and pretty much put an exclamation point on the proceedings with a great summary of the evening by way of a chant of “you can’t win here!”.

Clearly the length of the streak isn’t lost on the Californians either, as the Flames blew a 1-0 lead and dropped their 25 straight game in Anaheim, in a wild one that featured a boat load of penalty minutes in the third period.

The streak continues, but perhaps the Flames and Ducks will meet in the playoffs, giving them a chance to at least put another asterisk, like the 2006 playoff series, in the way of something that doesn’t seem to want to end any time soon.
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Game Takes: Ducks 4 Flames 3

April 3rd, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames have made some big strides this season.

A 90 point team, playoff spot clinched, but perhaps there still lie a few demons to slay, one of which is the Ducks from Anaheim, a team that pretty much always play the Flames hard.

Tonight in a spirited game the Flames nemesis put another log on that fire of superiority, beating the Flames 4-3 with a late goal, in a game where the visiting club was clearly the better team.

Back at it for the Flames on Tuesday where they try and end a 13 year curse in Anaheim, and avoid the Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs.
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