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What We Learned: Flames need push amid newsworthy weekend - aliciahuang - 01-11-2018

kicked off by the Great Glen Gulutzan Stick-Tossing Incident of 2018.,Plenty of goings on in Calgary this weekend

He was,adidas Steven Stamkos jersey, unhappy with the way the Flames were practicing on Friday and launched into an F-bomb-laden tirade that included both the phrase “check the standings” and impressive distance on the stick toss itself., apparently

It was a bit of a surprise because the Flames are generally playing really well and, but his point about the standings should be well taken by everyone on that roster: This Flames team has the talent to be cruising in the Pacific, had picked up two straight wins. So maybe this was an outsized reaction to guys maybe playing at 75 percent intensity in practice, at the time, of course, they had just 20 wins, and isn’t. It’s a criticism that could apply to a few other teams in the division, with a home game against Anaheim (directly ahead of them in the standings) before a four-game road trip., but through 40 games, and have also played in five three-point games against Western Conference teams. Which is to say they’re giving away a decent amount of points and the team was about to enter a bit of a tough stretch

 they maybe come back from that road trip three,So the motivation for the meltdown is apparent enough: If the Flames didn’t keep up their recent winning ways, four, or five points back of the last wild card spot.

 especially given that there were national TV people in the building,There was some amount of handwringing about how performative the display was, and you’ve certainly seen less scenery chewing in local dinner theater productions of Death of a Salesman. But sometimes you need a bit of scenery chewing. It’s not always a bad thing. Jack Nicholson isn’t exactly going for “subtle” in The Shining, right?

And certainly with the Flames dramatic win on Saturday night — which barely avoided gifting Anaheim at least an OT point — maybe people will say it worked. It’s difficult to draw that correlation; the Flames dramatically outplayed a team in the midst of a five-game roadtrip which they are, better than. There were some problems in the third period and drama throughout, frankly, say, but on the balance the Flames deserved the win. Is that Gulutzan’s doing? Probably not, but he’s done a pretty good job with this club after coming in with plenty of question marks about why he got hired over, Bruce Boudreau.

 especially the power play. And that doesn’t make sense for a team with as much top-six talent as the Flames have on hand. Even Micheal Ferland seems to have developed into a nice little skill player — check that pass to Dougie Hamilton for the game-winner — and when you have that luxury,Authentic Brent Burns jersey,The Flames are currently fourth in the NHL in possession but have a surprisingly low shooting percentage (seventh-last in the league) that has almost certainly cost them a number of games. The special teams are wanting, it doesn’t make sense that the Flames should have a minus-3 goal difference, especially because they draw more penalties but commit fewer than the league average. 

And as to the possession thing, and the rest are a smidge below it. So while this club seemingly has an elite process, the Flames have five defenseman who have played at least 500 minutes halfway through the season. Only Hamilton and Mark Giordano are north of 50 percent in possession , those five guys are only on the ice for about a third of the game, that’s only because their top pairing are beyond dominant, and everyone else is relatively pliable. The problem is, so that leaves a lot of time in which the Flames aren’t doing anywhere near as well as the overall numbers would lead you to believe.

The roster problems aren’t Gulutzan’s fault, you run into issues. (It should also be said that Mike Smith is punching well above his weight, of course. The Flames have a great top-six forward group and probably the best top pair in the league. After that, the third line is doing okay, only adding concern that if he turns back into a pumpkin, the team’s playoff chances could be toast.) The first two lines are pushing around opponents quite well, and the fourth is getting caved in most nights.

Things may only be complicated by what is perceived as a failed experiment with Jaromir Jagr, as does most of the league these days — and “fitness” — Jagr seemingly can’t stay healthy this year — than the sport’s elder statesman being not good enough to play in this league any more. Calgary’s goal difference per 60 rate when Jagr is on the ice at 5-on-5 is among the highest on the team, who is now reportedly working with Calgary management on an exit strategy despite some solid underlying numbers in his 22 games. This seems more like an issue of both “fit” — the Flames play fast, the Flames’ forward depth is just a little more exposed, albeit against lower-end competition. Still,Authentic Jake Guentzel jersey, without Jagr, and that’s not going to help them win games long-term.

 to me,Authentic Vladimir Tarasenko jersey,Meanwhile, a coaching issue. Gulutzan’s job is to figure out those problems specifically. That he seemingly can’t or hasn’t yet is an issue. The club just played Game 41 and it’s still not in the playoffs. They’re close and there’s plenty of runway left, special teams problems are,Authentic Joe Thornton jersey, but this club needs a middling winning streak or three to really cement any sort of playoff position. You have the high-end talent,Authentic Steven Stamkos jersey, so to not get results like this in what seems to be a fairly fixable way may speak to larger limitations.

 it’s tough to get a read on this team. What “should” they be? Probably top-three in their division,Broadly speaking, but it’s also not hard to see why they’re not. Maybe the stick toss is a turning point for them. Maybe it’s not. The point is it was probably necessary because, on paper,adidas Auston Matthews jersey, this team shouldn’t have to count on a few winning streaks to solidify their playoff bona fides.

 they've allowed quite a few shots on goal over these past four games., Although the Detroit Red Wings are on their longest winning streak of the season

Jimmy Howard has turned aside enough of them.

 and Anthony Mantha and Gustav Nyquist scored in the third period to lift the Red Wings to their fourth straight victory,Howard made 38 saves, 4-2 over the Florida Panthers on Friday night. Howard has played in every game of Detroit's modest streak, stopping 145 of 151 shots.

" Howard said. "Most goalies in this league,"The guys are allowing me to see the puck, when they're allowed to see the puck, they're going to make the first save."

The Red Wings were outshot 40-19 by Florida. In fact, but Mantha put Detroit back ahead on the power play and Nyquist added a breakaway goal with 4:38 remaining., they've allowed at least 38 shots in three of the four games during this winning streak. They blew a 2-0 lead Friday

 and they hemmed us in our end — no doubt about it — for lots of the first and second,"They won more puck battles and puck races," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "You look around the league, I don't know how many teams win without elite goaltending. ... I think that's what Jimmy's been giving us."

 who had their game at Boston on Thursday night postponed because of severe weather. They were able to make it from there to Detroit to play Friday's game as scheduled.,Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar also scored for Detroit. Mike Matheson and Aleksander Barkov scored for the Panthers

 but the Panthers quickly gave Detroit two straight power plays,Florida outshot the Red Wings 29-11 through two periods but still trailed 2-1. Barkov tied it on a 2-on-1 break, and the Red Wings converted on the second. Martin Frk's slap shot from the point beat goalie James Reimer to the glove side. Mantha, positioned in front,adidas Brent Burns jersey, was credited with the goal on an apparent deflection.

"I thought we had all the momentum after we tied the game," Florida coach Bob Boughner said. "You can't keep anything going when you've got to kill four straight minutes of penalties.", but those two penalties killed it

 who scored Detroit's only two goals in an overtime win against Ottawa on Wednesday,Athanasiou, gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead just 42 seconds into the game, skating in from the left and backhanding the puck past Reimer. Dylan Larkin made a nice play behind the net to help set up Detroit's next goal in the second period. He got the puck to Athanasiou, who made an easy pass to Tatar in front of the net.

 collecting the puck near center ice with a nifty spin and then breezing past a defenseman before beating Howard.,Matheson scored a terrific goal with 1.5 seconds left in the second

 when the puck deflected off Detroit's Justin Abdelkader and went high in the air before landing on the back of an unsuspecting Reimer and appearing to go in the net. The goal was taken away after officials ruled Abdelkader's stick was up too high when the puck bounced off it.,The Red Wings had two goals disallowed after reviews. One came in the second period

Henrik Zetterberg reached the 600-assist mark on Nyquist's goal. ... The Panthers have lost two in a row following a five-game winning streak. ... Florida had a penalty-kill percentage of 92.7 over its previous 19 games.

 the Columbus Blue Jackets were reaching the end of an historic 16-game winning streak that catapulted the team into the Stanley Cup playoffs.,A year ago

As the Blue Jackets pass the halfway point of the 2017-18 season, resulting in a 3-5-2 record in its last 10 games., there’s a far different feel with the direction of this club. It has been plagued recently by injuries and inconsistency

 Columbus (23-16-3) returns home to face the Florida Panthers (17-18-5) on Sunday night at Nationwide Arena.,After going 1-1-0 on a quick two-game road trip to Dallas and Colorado

Despite their struggles, but only four points behind the first-place Washington Capitals.,adidas Vladimir Tarasenko jersey, the Blue Jackets are keeping pace in the Metropolitan Division. They’re in third place

The Panthers sit in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic but trail the division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning by 22 points as they play their 41st of 82 games Sunday.

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is trying to keep his finger off the panic button while he waits for injured players to return and for the forward lines to start generating more offense. Columbus has scored three fewer goals that it has allowed (111-114) in 42 games this season.

 winger Cam Atkinson and defenseman Ryan Murray.,Part of that can be blamed on the lengthy injury list that includes key players such as centers Brandon Dubinsky and Alexander Wennberg

“I just haven’t seen our team together,Authentic Auston Matthews jersey,” Tortorella said. “We’ve had some guys struggle all year. I want to see how fast we can play when they’re feeling good about themselves., and guys playing as a group with a total confidence

 ‘I’m OK,“They can sit there and tell you after games when they don’t get a goal or it’s just been a struggle that, I’m OK,’ but they’re really not. They live on succeeding and scoring goals, especially some of the guys that are out right now.”

 the Panthers have similar scoring issues with a minus-19 goal differential.,While the Blue Jackets are mostly relying on goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and their defense to carry them through

“We just need to score more on the chances we get, who ranks third on the team with 12 goals and 35 points. “We just need to score and control the game. We play the same way we are right now we’re going to win a lot of games.”,” said Panthers center Aleksander Barkov

Barkov’s assessment was echoed throughout the Florida locker room.

“We need to do a better job with the chances that we do get,” Panthers defensemen Mike Matheson said.

The Panthers have one more stop left after Columbus on a road trip to start the calendar year. They’ve yet to win, with the latest lost a 4-2 setback Friday night against the Red Wings.

” said Panthers goaltender James Reimer, you wish you could come up with some saves, but that’s what the next game is for,“As a goalie,adidas Jake Guentzel jersey, whose loss in Detroit was only his second in regulation in the past seven games.

The Blue Jackets aren’t desperate for a win, but would prefer not to let a chance slip away at home to pick up some valuable points before heading back out on the road for two games this week.

” Tortorella said. “You kind of base some things off last year, but it’s easy for a coaching staff to say, ‘This is what we can be’,adidas Joe Thornton jersey,“I think I know what we can be, but each year it’s a different situation. I’m not sure where it all goes.

 we’re a team that has to scratch and claw. That’s how we talk about our club. (It) is scratch and claw,“Right now, business-like structure.”