Sports Outside the Beltway

Home New Home- Calgary beats Minnesota 5-2

The win allows Calgary to keep pace with Detroit, who also won today, in the race for the NHL Western Conference’s last playoff spot. From AP-

Despite being the career leader in goals against Minnesota Wild, Jarome Iginla hadn’t scored one in 10 games.

He certainly broke out of his slump in a big way.Calg-Min

Iginla recorded his 10th career hat trick — his third against Minnesota — and Vesa Toskala made 27 saves in his first start since being traded to Calgary as the Flames beat the Wild 5-2 on Sunday. Rene Bourque and Mark Giordano also scored for the Flames, who stayed within a point of Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Iginla hadn’t scored a goal against Minnesota since March 22, 2008 — he had a hat trick in that game, too.

That’s a long time in light of the fact that Minnesota and Calgary are in the same division and play 6 times a year.

Toskala was traded to Anaheim for Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Jan. 31, and then to Calgary for Curtis McElhinney on March 3. He made his first start since Jan. 30, when he was still minding net for Toronto, playing in place of resting Olympian Miikka Kiprusoff. He looked solid in net for his new team, save for the couple of second-period goals by Latendresse, who has 21 goals in 39 games since being acquired by the Wild.

Toskala who was a excellent number #2, struggled terribly(2.74, 3.26 and 3.66 GAA average respectively) in Toronto over parts of three seasons and didn’t even play during his short time in Anaheim. He played great today, but one result is not enough proof to say this marks a comeback for the Finnish born Goalie.

Minnesota plays the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. I hope the cats tame the Wild also.


Florida Panthers trade D Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh

He didn’t even last a full season in South Florida. From the Miami Herald-

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold in a deal with the Florida Panthers.

Florida traded Leopold to Pittsburgh for a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The move was announced Monday, two days before the league’s trade deadline.

The 29-year-old Leopold signed a one-year contract with the Panthers in July. In the summer, he was part of a deal that sent the rights to defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to Calgary.

Leopold had 7 goals and 11 points for the season. He was to become a free agent at the end of this season, so the trade wasn’t unexpected.

This and the Dominic Moore trade are all the proof one needs to know about the rest of the 2009-10 Panther season. The team is packing it in. Their play has been brutal for over a month and only the wizardry of G Tomas Vokoun has kept the Panthers anywhere near the playoff race. Their 6 points out the 8th spot at present but it might as well be 1,000. This team isn’t going to the playoffs. AGAIN.

As for the trade, a 2nd round pick is a good deal on paper. If Florida makes good use of the pick. Say another David Booth but not a Lukas Krajicek. Even if the pick works out, Florida isn’t likely to benefit from it for 2-3 years. Dimitry Kulikov(Florida’s 2009 1st round pick) aside, most draft picks don’t come to the league for 2-3 years and then need time to adjust. Florida is rebuilding, AGAIN, but it could be 4 years before fans see improvement. I really am a Masochist when I root for this team 82 games a year.

Also blogging on the trade- Donny at Litter Box Cats.


Malaise- Calgary beats Florida 2-1

You won’t win many games in the NHL when your team only makes 13 shots on goal. From AP-

Ales Kotalik and Mark Giordano scored, and Miikka Kiprusoff made 12 saves in the Calgary Flames’ 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.Jay Bouwmeester

The Panthers had a season-low 13 shot on goal.

Dennis Seidenberg scored for Florida, and Tomas Vokoun stopped 38 shots.

Calgary won for just the fourth time in its past 16 games and ended a four-game road losing streak. Florida has lost three of its last four games.

Calgary took a 2-1 lead on Giordano’s power-play goal with 2:42 left in the second period. The Flames won a facoff in the Panthers’ end and Giordano’s shot from the right point got cleanly past Vokoun, who was screened on the play.

Calgary opened the scoring with 10 seconds left in the first period. On a power play, Kotalik passed across the crease toward Matt Stajan at the side of the net. The puck glanced off a Panthers players’ skate and into the net to give the Flames a 1-0 lead. It was Kotalik’s first goal for the Flames since joining the team Sunday in a trade with the New York Rangers. Jay Bouwmeester and Niklas Hagman, both former Panthers, were credited with assists on the play.

Panther fans booed Bouwmeester tonight. I been a die hard Florida for three years and I hold no animosity towards the defenseman. Unlike someone like Nick Saban, Bouwmeester didn’t pretend he would be staying in South Florida.

Calgary Flames Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow played their 1000th and 999th career game respectively tonight. Iginla who was originally drafted by the Dallas Stars, has played his entire NHL career in Calgary.

The Panthers offense is seriously MIA at this time. No forward has scored a goal in the team’s last 3 games. Overall Florida has scored just 10 goals in its last 9 games. Vokoun has been magical in goal but not the greatest Goaltender in the world can win with that kind of support. Florida is 24-24-9 at present. I still can’t make myself believe the Panthers will make the playoffs even if they stand just a few points out of a playoff spot at present.

Note- I was happily surprised tonight to learn that Saturday’s game against Atlanta will be on NHL Center Ice. Before the 2009-10 season began this game it was reported this game would not be on any form of television.


Calgary Flames trade Olli Jokinen to the NY Rangers

From ESPN-

It took a while, but the proposed trade between the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames was finally completed late Monday night.

The Rangers shipped forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik to the Flames in exchange for center Olli Jokinen and rugged winger Brandon Prust, a deal that was nearly consummated Sunday night but was delayed a day.

Kotalik’s limited no-trade clause and his ability to nix the deal was partly responsible for the holdup, but he ultimately agreed to the move, a source told

The trade call between both teams occurred following Calgary’s game Monday night.

Calgary is scheduled to play Florida on February 5th. Which would have enabled the Panthers all-time leading scorer(Jokinen) to make his first South Florida appearance since he was traded to Phoenix after the 2008-09 season. That has now been delayed till April when the Rangers come to town.

The Panthers beat writers have been hammering the Jokinen return to death IMHO. Does the Miami Herald’s George Richards or the Sun Sentinel’s Steve Gorten care to tell us that Jokinen will now be coming to Florida two times a year rather than once every two years? Jokinen is in the last year of his contract, but that isn’t pointed out but I don’t see mention of that or the chance of Jokinen coming to Florida two times a year if he should stay in New York.

As for the deal, both teams rid themselves of players who either couldn’t get along with their coach(Kotalik vs. the volatile John Tortorella) or a underachiever who isn’t supposedly giving a full effort(Jokinen). I think the Rangers come out better on this deal if they re-sign Jokinen but its a close thing. This was Jokinen’s third trade in less than two years and he is now working on his 6th NHL team.

George Richards in a blog post about this trade, made a huge sportswriting blunder.

Of course, Olli isn’t headed east to New York just yet. According to reports, he’s on his way to California to meet up with the Rangers in Los Angeles. Sports is funny this way, yes? Olli’s NHL career started with the Kings. They then traded him to the Panthers where he enjoyed his most professional success. Olli didn’t want to leave the Panthers, know that.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Jokinen is heading back to a NY area team for the second time in his career. He played a year with the NY Islanders. And how did the Florida Panthers acquire him?George Richards

June 24th 2000- Jokinen and Roberto Luongo traded to Florida in exchange for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish

Florida only got a great goaltender and its all-time leading scorer in the same trade. This was only the biggest transaction the team ever made that went the right way for the Cats. Forgetting this trade is like a New York City baseball reporter forgetting the New York Yankees got Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox.

Next thing George will be doing is tell us Jacques Martin didn’t coach in the NHL prior to Ottawa (like at least one other Panther beat writer did) and that Martin had great confidence in Craig Anderson!


Toronto Maple Leafs complete separate trades with Anaheim and Calgary

They acquire a defenseman and a Goalie. From ESPN-

The Toronto Maple Leafs shook up their roster with a pair of big moves on Sunday, the biggest coming in a trade for star defenseman Dion Phaneuf from the slumping Calgary Flames.Dion Phaneuf

The Leafs also acquired veteran goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks for Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala.

The Leafs acquired Phaneuf, right wing Fredrik Sjostrom and defenseman Keith Aulie in exchange for defenseman Ian White, center Matt Stajan, left wing Niklas Hagman and right wing Jamal Mayers.


Phaneuf had 10 goals, 12 assists and 49 penalty minutes as of Sunday. In 378 career games over five seasons he has 75 goals, 153 assists and 522 penalty minutes, all with the Flames.

The Leafs gave up two of their top scorers in Stajan (16 goals, 25 assists) and Hagman (20 goals, 13 assists) to obtain Phaneuf.

On the surface Toronto looks to have made out well. Phaneuf is a very good defenseman. Giguere replaces Toskala who has been a bust for Maple Leafs since coming over from San Jose.Jean-Sebastien Giguere


Toronto is 17-28-11 this season, or the worst record in the Eastern Conference. There is no chance in hell this trade will get the Maple Leafs to the playoffs this year.

Giguere hasn’t been playing well this year, 3.1 GAA and .900 save percentage, and his trade comes as no surprise*. That’s an improvement on Toskala who has 3.66 and .874 respectively. Still the numbers are worse for Giggy than they are for Washington Capital Goalie Jose Theodore and regular OTB Sports readers know what I think of that Goalie.

Toronto must be hoping for a Giguere bounce back in 2010-11.

Oh you get two defensemen but trade away players(Hagman** and Stajan) who have contributed 36 goals for your team this year. I don’t see these trades helping Toronto short term and long term doesn’t look all that great either IMHO.

*- Anaheim signed their other Goalie, Jonas Hiller, to a 4-year contract yesterday. That made the high priced Giggy expendable.

It looks almost certain Hiller will be in goal when I watch Florida and Anaheim play tomorrow night. Particularly since the Ducks haven’t played since Friday night.

**- I guess that ends the Hagman to Florida Panther trade rumors. Hagman’s first NHL team was the Cats.


Fan points a laser at Goalie during Vancouver-Calgary game

From AP-

Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter is upset security couldn’t locate a laser pointer being used to distract goalie Miikka Kiprusoff during Saturday s 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

“It’s ridiculous,” Sutter said. “We could see it shining on his mask the whole night. It was brought to the attention of the refs and security, and it’s hard to believe that can go on for 60 minutes in a hockey game and it’s not located.”

Kiprusoff made 19 saves and stopped one of three shots in the shootout. He received medical treatment after the game, and wasn’t immediately available to the media.

Sutter said it was a distraction. I would call that an understatement in light of the fact that Kiprusoff sought medical treatment after the game.

Then is Sutter or the Flames over reacting? Could it been some kind of crazy reflection? I don’t have much experience with being on ice, but light does reflect off snow.

Curiously, the print news media in Vancouver and Calgary make no mention of a laser being used on Kiprusoff. They aren’t taking the supposed incident very seriously either.


NHL Western Conference at the mid point of the 2009-10 season

Due to the Winter Olympics, the NHL season is being being played at a more accelerated rate than normal. For instance, prior to Christmas week the Florida Panthers had four games in a week, five straight weeks in a row.

A NHL season is 82 games in length. Half of 82 is 41. Most teams are at 41 games or more

San Jose 42 games 27 wins 8 losses 7 overtime losses 61 points
Chicago 41 28 10 3 59
Colorado 43 24 13 6 54
Phoenix 43 25 14 4 54
Calgary 41 24 12 5 53
Nashville 42 25 14 3 53
Vancouver 42 25 16 1 51
Los Angeles 42 24 15 3 51

Detroit 41 21 14 6 48
Dallas 41 18 12 11 47
Minnesota 42 20 19 3 43
St. Louis 41 17 18 6 40
Anaheim 41 16 18 7 39
Columbus 43 15 19 9 39
Edmonton 42 16 22 4 36

Bold denotes all teams who would make the playoffs as of this minute.
The above standings are as of 10 a.m. on Sunday January 3rd.

Teams all but certain to make the playoffs- San Jose, Chicago
Team that won’t make the playoffs- Edmonton

I think Detroit will get their act back together and make the playoffs. Who do I think they will bump? I’m not sold on Phoenix yet. Los Angeles is the next most likely team to drop from the top 8

Columbus won’t make the playoffs unless Steve Mason returns to his form of last season. Dallas could also climb into the top 8. I won’t rule out Anaheim, Minnesota or St. Louis from making the playoffs but IMHO it will be a surprise if any of them do turn around their seasons.


Back in line- Canadian health official fired for giving preferential treatment to NHL team

More people may be punished for their actions last week. From AP-

A senior staff member for Alberta Health Services has been fired for giving the Calgary Flames swine flu shots while thousands of people waited in line for the vaccine last week.

The board, which reports directly to the Alberta government, won’t name who was dismissed Wednesday and said more people might be punished for their roles.

“I am deeply offended that this circumstance has occurred,” Ken Hughes, chairman of Alberta Health Services, said in a news release. “The decision to allow preferential access to the Flames and their families was a serious error in judgment.”

Hughes said the “most senior staff member involved” was dismissed.

Flames president Ken King said Tuesday the players and their families received their shots on Friday at a private location. He said they believed they had gone through proper channels at Alberta Health Services, the agency that administers health services for the province.

King said they felt the shots were a priority for the players because of their extensive cross-border travel and the close-contact physical nature of their sport. He also said they didn’t want to cause a commotion by having the players stand in line at a public clinic.

What would have happened had the players gotten in line with the rest of the public? They would have gotten asked for autographs? I suppose these players and their families all live in a monastery so they don’t have to do deal with the little people.


Record comeback- Chicago Blackhawks beat Calgary 6-5

The 3-1-1 Blackhawks continue to make case that they are the best Western Conference team in the NHL. From AP-

Before they could work up a sweat Monday night, the Chicago Blackhawks were trailing the Calgary Flames 5-0.

Their goalie had been benched seven minutes into the game and their fans were giving them an earful for their sloppy play.


The Blackhawks did find a way to fix their situation and pull off an improbable victory against the team they knocked out of the playoffs in the first round last April.

Chicago matched the biggest comeback in NHL history, rallying from the five-goal deficit and beating the Flames 6-5 on Seabrook’s goal 26 seconds into overtime.

“We weren’t playing our game. Once we did, getting forechecking, getting pucks to the net, we realized we could get back in the game and get a win,” Seabrook said.

By rallying from five goals down, the Blackhawks tied the NHL record for biggest deficit overcome, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous club record had been a four-goal rally.

“A pretty amazing game,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “From the worst to as good as you can get.”

Seabrook picked up the puck and shot it past Miikka Kiprusoff in the overtime and was mobbed by his teammates as the crowd at the United Center rocked.

“A couple guys skated over the puck and it bounced around a little bit. And I just snuck in there, got control and got the shot,” Seabrook said. It was his first goal this season.

The Flames blistered Chicago goaltender Cristobal Huet with first-period goals by Dustin Boyd, Eric Nystrom and Jarome Iginla in a span of 53 seconds, prompting Quenneville to pull Huet for Antti Niemi.

“We weren’t very good in front of him. We know our goaltending has got to be better,” Quenneville said.

But Niemi didn’t fare much better early on, giving up two more quick goals as the Flames built a 5-0 lead. Calgary’s five-goal rampage came on just six shots and took only 5:29.

But the Blackhawks regrouped. They got second-period goals from Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and Dave Bolland to rally within 5-4.

Patrick Sharp’s goal, when he deflected in a shot by teammate Duncan Keith, tied the game at 5-5 five minutes into the final period and sent the United Center into a frenzy.

The Flames were shut out in the final two periods and the overtime.

Chicago, who outshot Calgary 39-20, broke the franchise’s previous biggest comeback record set in a 1989 game against Winnipeg.

These Blackhawks look for real to me. Most hockey players(and their diehard fans) would give up after falling behind 5-0.


Tampa Bay Lightning sign F Alex Tanguay

He still has to take a physical before the deal is finalized. From ESPN-

Alex Tanguay is off the market.

The sought-after free-agent forward has agreed to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth $2.5 million, a source told’s Pierre LeBrun.

“We’re pretty happy he is with the Lightning and he’s looking forward to giving his best,” Tanguay’s agent David Ettedgui told the St. Petersburg Times

Though a separated shoulder sidelined him for most of last season, Tanguay finished with 16 goals and 25 assists in 50 games.

Lightning GM Brian Lawton told the Times that Tanguay was “the guy we wanted.”

“It’s a chance for him to play with some really high-end, high-skill players, which we think he is,” Lawton told the newspaper. “And we think together, it should be a nice combination.”

Nice combination, but does it really improve Tampa? The Lightning had a horrible 2008-09 season. They were weak at defensemen, average at best at goalie, and other than their front line, mediocre when it came to scoring. Tampa needs a whole lot more than Alex Tanguay to make it back to the playoffs and I don’t see that happening at the end of the 2009-10. Tanguay on the other hand is free to move on to his next sucker team.


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