Tag:Calgary Flames
Posted on: December 11, 2011 4:34 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Just stop it, Brian Elliott

By Brian Stubits

There was concern going into this season for the people in St. Louis regarding the team's goaltending situation. Jaroslav Halak had been subpar in his first year with the Blues, exacerbating the need for a quality backup should things not improve.

So with the choices on the board, who did they sign? Brian Elliott, a castoff by both the Senators and Avalanche. His signing was so underwhelming that there was no guarantee he would even open the season with the Blues. There was an honest-to-goodness competition for the second goalie spot between he and young Blues prospect Ben Bishop.

If you've been paying attention to the first third-plus of the season, then you know how that competition turned out. But it's my duty to pretend that my readers are dumb and don't know a thing (sorry people) so I'll just tell you that Elliott won out.

And he's been winning ever since.

Despite being the "backup" to Halak, Elliott is tied for the league lead in shutouts after Saturday's blanking of the San Jose Sharks. He also leads the league with his jaw-dropping save percentage (.947) and goals against average (1.45).

"I'm satisfied, but I'm not too high on myself," Elliott said after the 1-0 victory on Saturday. "Sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don't."

Truth is, he has had to be that good. The Blues aren't exactly scoring like their division foes in Detroit.

While the coaching change from Davis Payne has worked wonders for the Blues and Halak, it would be unfair to credit Elliott's success to that, too. He was outstanding before the change, he's been just as excellent after it.

It's rather amazing when you think where he came from. As we mentioned, his signing was just a little underwhelming and uninspiring. Why? Consider that last season he played for both the Senators and Avalanche after a mid-season trade, a straight goalie swap for Craig Anderson. For the whole season, Elliott was 15-27-9, including 2-8-1 with the Avs. That .947 save percentage this season? Last season it was .893.

That's quite a turnaround. It's not like he's just become suitable this season, he's been outstanding. You could make the argument that he's been the MVP for the Blues this season. Honestly, I have a hard time making an argument for anybody but Elliott considering Hitchcock isn't a player.

"He seems to always be our best player in the third period," said Kevin Shattenkirk, who scored the only goal in the game. "When we're up by a goal, he's always there to make a huge save."

He had to make 11 saves in the third against the Sharks to preserve the win, obviously with no room for error.

I can't say that Elliott is the reason why the Blues are knocking on the Blackhawks' and Red Wings' doors in the Central. It would obviously neglect a lot of other factors at play. But Elliott could very well be at the top of that list.

Power boost

The Washington Capitals had one of the worst power-play units going into Friday night. The Toronto Maple Leafs had one of the worst penalty-killing units. Advantage: Capitals.

Among a lot of the concerns surround the Capitals, one was the power play's struggles. They had recently just gone through an 0-for-17 streak -- or skid, if you'd prefer. Then the Caps scored all four goals in a 4-2 win over Toronto on Friday with the man up.

More from the weekend
Recaps
Stories

Originally three were credited to Dennis Wideman with an assist on the fourth goal, but it was reviewed at Wideman's request on Saturday and the hat trick was taken away. But for a night at least, Wideman had the first hat trick by a Capitals defenseman in more than a decade (Sergei Gonchar in 2000).

But more immediately, there is hope that the Capitals might have found some hope for the man-up. Of course, the opposite side of the coin is that it came against the Leafs.

There is no doubt that the PK continues to be the Achilles' heel for Toronto. After Friday's awful showing, the Leafs are above only the Blue Jackets in successful PKs at 74.3 percent.

Bachman overdrive

When it was announced that the Dallas Stars would be without Kari Lehtonen for some time due to injury, Stars fans were right to be worried at the process of Andrew Raycroft getting more time. Not a reason for much optimism.

However Richard Bachman is. The rookie got his first start of his NHL career on Saturday and he turned in a great effort, holding the Kings to one goal for the 2-1 Dallas win.

With the win, he likely earned himself a start for the Stars' next game Tuesday at the Rangers.

"He's a competitive guy, and he's pretty clean when it comes to rebounds," said coach Glen Gulutzan, who coached the former Colorado College goalie in the minors last season. "I just told him when he went out there, `It's the same game that you've been playing.' He has that ability, and he's going through the natural progression. He deserves another start, and most likely we'll give him that opportunity and see if he can run with it."

The two points put the Stars back on top of the Pacific Division, which has been surprising this season, and not so much in a good way. The Stars and Coyotes are tied atop the division, but they are each 10 points behind the top team in the West, the Wild. If the division winners weren't awarded the one of the top three seeds, the Stars would be the sixth seed.

On the other bench ...

What's going on with the L.A. Kings? I'll tell you one thing, Terry Murray can't be feeling very comfortable with his job these days.

There was so much hope coming into this season for the Kings. They had been growing every season, they added Mike Richards. It appeared the Kings were on their way to their best season since the days of Gretzky.

They still could be, but they'll have to right the ship in a hurry. Would you believe that there is no team in the NHL worse at scoring goals than Los Angeles? Its 2.21 goals per game ranks at the bottom of the NHL< including below the Ducks in nearby Anaheim. Nothing like low-scoring games to sell hockey in SoCal.

When your cross-town rival makes a move firing its coach and you are being booed off the ice, it's time to wonder if the end is in sight for Murray.

The Wings are good

Just in case you missed that memo.

I was getting ready to start talking about the Winnipeg Jets and how they were extremely quietly inching their way up the Eastern Conference. Then they went to Detroit and were railroaded.

The Red Wings had seven goals from six different scorers -- and none of them was Pavel Datsyuk. It was Detroit's ninth straight win at home where they are 12-2-1 this season. Those are the most wins at home for any team this season.

Some things never change.

One-sided rivalry

What is it about the Battle of Alberta that the Oilers are having so many problems with?

Half of the season's six games have been played between the Oilers and Calgary Flames this season, and the boys from Edmonton have yet to pick up a single point. Against the rest of the NHL, the Oilers are 14-10-3.

The most recent rendition of the provincial rivalry saw Jarome Iginla flash some of his old form with a pair of goals and the Flames took the game 3-0.

Most everybody would agree that the Oilers are likely the better team between the two, but they just can't beat their neighbors. I guess that's why they play the game (well that and winning, right Herm?).

Quote of the weekend

If I were to take a poll of NHL fans who have the Center Ice package which announcer is the biggest homer around? I think it would be a two-horse race between Paul Steigerwald in Pittsburgh and Bruins play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards.

So for this week's QOTW, we're going to take a light-hearted look at a call from Edwards in the Bruins' win over the Blue Jackets.

On the play, Derek Dorsett is driving toward the net to try and beat Tim Thomas, but his shot attempt is stopped and he then goes skidding into the boards. Here is Edwards' call, you might be surprised (like me).

Yes, that is Edwards rather vehemently arguing against a penalty that went on an opposing player. Clearly he was right, in no way, shape or form was that goaltender interference. If anything, it was interference from Tomas in the form of a trip on Dorsett, who was a bit worse for the ware afterward.

Before you jump down my throat, calm down. I have no problems with local announcers catering to the home team, that is their audience. But sometimes it goes overboard and is comical. So when I hear somebody this adamant in another team's defense, it's "ear-catching."

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:16 am
 

Ex-Flame Fleury finds lost ring via Craigslist

By Brian Stubits

Five days after I entered into the world of marriage, my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. While on a boat trip to a nearby village, the boat we were on snagged a fish while trolling off the back. Excitedly I jumped up. Depressingly, my brand new wedding band fell down. A few frantically grasping hands from my wife and a few others on the ship were unable to save it and my ring fell into the Pacific Ocean, never to be seen, by me at least, again.

It was gut wrenching, just as much for seeing my wife's anger/extreme sadness as it was my own embarrassment, shame and sadness.

The point of this story? It's my roundabout way of saying I sort of know how Theo Fleury felt when he lost his 1989 Stanley Cup championship ring 10 months ago.

Fleury, who spent the majority of his NHL career with the Flames before finishing out the string with stops in Colorado, New York (Rangers) and Chicago, was a rookie when the Flames won the Stanley Cup in the spring of '89. Ever since, he has had a ring to serve as his spoils for his role in the Cup hoisting (he had 14 goals and 20 assists in just 36 games).

Last season when the final (unless the NHL eventually decides to resurrect it again) Heritage Classic was held in Calgary, Fleury was back as a member of the alumni team. It was then that he lost his ring, which he told the Calgary Sun fell out of his pocket.

The only difference between his story and mine? He was able to hold out hope that he would see the ring again someday.

That day has come.

Fleury's prized ring has shown up, of all places, on Craigslist. Not in the "for sale" section either, but in the "lost and found" category. Check out the posting from an anonymous author.

In response to the posting, Fleury texted the Sun simply "We're on it."

There is certainly the over-dramatic part in me that wants to say how refreshing it is to see somebody actually returning to the rightful owner rather than selling it for profit. Of course, I'm sure there will be something in it for the good Samaritan, likely some free memorabilia coming his/her way and, if nothing else, a chance to meet Fleury.

Now Fleury gets his ring back having learned a lesson I learned the hard way. Keep your ring on your finger at all times (or just leave it at home).

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 7, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:41 am
 

Mike Murphy allows no goals, still takes loss

murphy1By: Adam Gretz

Mike Murphy, 22-year-old goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes, made his NHL debut on Tuesday night in relief of starter Cam Ward after he allowed six goals on 32 shots against Calgary in a game the Flames ultimately won, 7-6.

Murphy entered the game with a little under nine minutes remaining in the third period and stopped the only two shots he faced ... and he still ended up taking the loss on the stat sheet, despite not giving up a single goal.

With the Hurricanes trailing, 6-4, head coach Kirk Muller pulled Murphy with less than two minutes to play in regulation to get an extra attacker on the ice. That was quickly followed by Calgary's Jarome Iginla scoring an empty-net goal to put the Flames up 7-4. Game over, right? Almost.

Over the final minute of the period, the Hurricanes quickly responded with a pair of goals from Chad LaRose and Eric Staal to cut the deficit to 7-6. Staal's goal came with just five seconds remaining on the clock. Because of that late, and basically meaningless goal, the seventh Flames tally, the one scored on the empty net, obviously became the game-winner. And even though it was scored without a goalie in the crease, since Murphy was the goalie that was pulled, allowing it to be scored, he is the one that gets credit for the loss. Without allowing a goal.

Welcome to the NHL!

It's not the first time it's happened in the NHL, as former Los Angeles Kings goalie Mario Gosselin (via the HfBoards) had something similar happen back in 1989 when he stopped all six shots he faced in relief of Kelly Hrudey in a 7-6 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 4, 2011 11:44 pm
 

Flames goalies Karlsson, Kiprusoff run into

By Brian Stubits

We had more goalies being run into on Sunday night. Of course it happened between two teams that don't like each other all that much (you could probably say that about any pair of Canadian teams).

With the Vancouver Canucks cruising 5-1 over the Calgary Flames in the third period, there was an unfortunate accident that took Flames goalie Henrik Karlsson out.

On the play the Canucks' Jannik Hansen was driving to the net and being chased by Tom Kostopoulos. Both guys eventually go down and Kostopulous slid right into Karlsson who immediately began grabbing at what appeared to be his knee. Karlsson left the game after the hit and limped toward the locker room.

This was just an unfortunate accident, a little friendly fire. Seemed to be nothing more than a freak play leaving a player perhaps injured, we'll know more later how seriously.

But then Miikka Kiprusoff came on to relieve Karlsson and, wouldn't you know it, he was run into too.

This time the hit was actually levied by an opponent as David Booth tried to cross in front of the crease but was held up by Joe Piskula and was left with nowhere else to go. So he ran into Kiprusoff.

Of course, a melee ensued. The Flames were already being beat and lost a goalie from a hit, so they took exception to this one. Plus, it really didn't look good for Booth, who seemed to follow through the impact high. Granted, it looks worse than it was, but with the heightened sense of protection around the goalies right now, it will raise some eyebrows.

You just know that this will remain a hot topic until something is done about it. What, I'm not entirely sure. But there is a lot of clamoring for clarification of the rules if nothing else. Soon they will be protected with the same ferocity that we see in football with the quarterbacks.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 2, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Flames GM adamant Iginla trade rumors are false

By Brian Stubits

On Thursday, one bit of trade speculation was squashed when Ducks GM Bob Murray said he thinks the talk of Bobby Ryan being traded is going to die down now that the team hired a new coach in Bruce Boudreau. It worked pretty well, the dreams have, for the most part, stopped.

Now Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster is taking his shot at stopping the rumors surrounding one of his Stars. That would be captain Jarome Iginla. The speculation has been circling around him wildly for some time. What team would love to have a veteran leader and scorer like Iginla?

While the Flames are struggling, Feaster told Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun. Rather emphatically, too.

“It is not true,” Feaster emphatically stated Friday morning at the Saddledome. ” Jarome Iginla has not been asked to waive his no-trade and Jarome Iginla has not demanded a trade or asked for a trade. There is no list. There is no smoking gun. There is nobody on the grassy knoll.

“What else do you need?”

Deals have reportedly been so close to done, all they needed were for Iginla to waive his no-trade clause and accept to be moved. The Montreal Canadiens were one team rumored to be close. Others have suggested the Dallas Stars, Iginla's original team, would be interested.

All the talk seems to have Feaster at his wit's end.

“Here’s the trouble. When it’s a non-story, and we have to stand here and rebutt it, the rebuttal becomes the story. It puts us in a position that I don’t know is fair to the organization and I know is not fair to Jarome,” Feaster said.

“One of the questions I have is where do these things start? Are they legitimate sources or is it a blogger in the basement in his underwear that says, ‘This is the rumour du jour’ and you guys feel the need to track it down.”

Ah yes, the old blogger stereotype. Well for the record I would like to state that I work in my pajamas, thank you very much.

But seriously, I see where Feaster is coming from, assuming he's telling the truth. It's a Catch-22, he can't let the rumors just fester and become a distraction for his team, so he has to address them. By doing that, he in a way legitimizes the rumors.

The best thing he could do is exactly what he's doing right here: Don't mix any words and flat-out deny. There will be plenty of people who still won't believe him, but it's his best option if he wants to quiet the crowds.

Now maybe he'll be singing a different tune when the trade deadline draws closer.

One player who could be on his way out of Calgary is Cory Sarich. According to Roger Millions (what a last name) of Sportsnet, Sarich has asked for a trade. Yes, that's correct, Sarich with a trade request.

With the news that Mark Giordano is going to be out indefinitely after partially tearing tendons in his leg, the Flames might not be interested in getting rid of a defenseman at the moment. But we'll see. The trades could pick up for the Flames.

Just know that right now they don't include Iginla.

Here is Feaster addressing the media on the matters at hand.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:22 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:32 pm
 

Jordin Tootoo: bloodiest interview of the season

By: Adam Gretz

Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators doesn't have the best reputation in the NHL when it comes to embellishing plays (things like this on Monday night don't really help), and he doesn't always get the benefit of the doubt, even when he probably should.

During the first period of Nashville's game in Calgary on Tuesday night, the forward took a high stick in the face from Flames defenseman Scott Hannan.

After the period when Tootoo was speaking with analyst -- and former NHL coach -- Terry Crisp on the between periods interview, his nose started to bleed, presumably a result of the impact from Hannan's stick, forcing the interview to be cut short.



Unless he shoved a couple of blood capsules up his nose before going on camera, you can't really fake that one.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 25, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Blake Comeau claimed on waivers by Flames

By: Adam Gretz

After being a healthy scratch in the Islanders 5-0 loss in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the team placed struggling forward Blake Comeau on waivers on Wednesday afternoon. On Friday, 25-year-old forward was claimed by the Calgary Flames.

Comeau could probably use a change of scenery -- and perhaps a change in luck -- as he's recorded zero points through his first 16 games of the season. He scored 24 goals to go with 22 assists in 77 games last season last season after recording 35 points in 61 games during the 2009-10 season.

He's currently on a one-year contract that pays him $2.5 million. He will be eligible for restricted free agency following this season.

Not only has Comeau not recorded a single point this season, while currently owning a minus-11 rating, he hasn't been on the ice for a single Islanders goal (scored by any player) during 5-on-5 play. He's been credited with 20 shots on goal.

When you consider that the Flames didn't have to give up anything in terms of players or draft picks to buy low on a struggling player that's demonstrated an ability to score some goals at the NHL level, it's low-risk move that has the potential for a positive reward.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 13, 2011 3:21 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 9:31 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Where was the Sabres' response?

By Brian Stubits

Results: Friday | Saturday

Let's start with the shot heard 'round the world from Saturday night.

Early in the Bruins' 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres (their fifth straight win for those keeping track at home) Milan Lucic found himself chasing down a puck on a breakaway. Ryan Miller found himself in the tough position of playing the puck before Lucic or waiting for the breakaway attempt. Miller chose option A and the following was the result.

The play had Miller peeved. He gave the hockey world a contender for quote of the year after the game when he was asked about any injury he might have sustained on the play.

"I'm not really going to get into that," Miller said. "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It's unbelievable. Everyone in this city sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of [feces]."

Of course seeing their goalie get trucked by Lucic was tough for the Sabres to see. But maybe the biggest problem of the day for them is why didn't it look like it bothered them? Lucic was given maybe a nudge or two. That's why he skated to the penalty box with a smirk on his face that would have made the Grinch proud.

His comment after the game must have been equally as cutting.

"You know, we wouldn't accept anything like that," Lucic said. "We would have [taken] care of business. But we're a different team than they are."

Ouch. That's pouring salt squarely onto the wound.

The worst part, though, was the Sabres knew they didn't respond in the right away. Paul Gaustad was embarrassed with how his team reacted immediately after the play. And he was on the ice.

"I can do more. I'm embarrassed that we didn't respond the way we should have," Gaustad said. "It falls on myself. I look at myself first, and I wasn't good enough.

More on Bruins-Sabres

"We didn't push back. There's no reason to be scared. We had to go after it, and we didn't."

The only player who seemed genuinely intent on getting back at Lucic was Miller himself. He took a swing with his stick as Lucic went by after the hit and then was restrained by a linesman and was left to shout -- presumably -- some obscenities at Lucic when he was escorted to the box.

I can't help but think back to a quote from last week from John Vogl of the Buffalo News. He said a player on the team told him the Sabres weren't playing as hard in front of Miller as they are for Jhonas Enroth. The general consensus on that was that it was because Miller is so good and the team has grown a bit complacent in front of him. This lack of response and that quote from Vogl could still not be linked, but it makes you wonder.

What I do know is that coach Lindy Ruff wasn't too pleased with his team's response either. He was reportedly hot in the team meeting on Sunday and left the building without speaking to the media, instead responding "[Bleep] the media" when informed reporters were waiting to talk to him.

I can't agree more with the crowd saying the Sabres showed no spine in response to the play. It was no coincidence that the game got away from the Sabres in a hurry after that and the Bruins went on to the 6-2 rout. You have to stand up for your goalie when he gets trucked like this. It's standard procedure to get in a guy's face when a goalie gets a snow shower, let alone a big hit like this.

Should Miller have made this play? Probably not. If you venture into the jungle, expect you might get bit. Either way, he certainly wasn't expecting a hit like that. Lucic saw a golden opportunity to hit a goalie and took advantage of it. It's like anytime a quarterback throws an interception, all the defenders are looking for a chance to lay the quarterback out with a big shot in the name of blocking.

But that doesn't mean that it was a legal play by Lucic. Here is what Rule 69.4 states specifically:

69.4 Contact Outside the Goal Crease - If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for goalkeeper interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent.

When the Bruins meet the Sabres again, we could be looking at a slugfest. Buffalo will look at that game as a chance for retribution. Hey, better late than never, I suppose.

Russian rut

Alexander Semin is one of the more talented players in the NHL, speaking strictly on a matter of offensive skill. It was only two seasons ago that he had 40 goals and 44 assists in 73 games for the Capitals.

But he's also a player that's been singled out for not caring. That was an offseason storyline after former teammate Matt Bradley basically said as much. Funny how there weren't many Caps fans and media rushing to defend Semin for the slight. I think many actually agreed with Bradley.

But that was the offseason. This season isn't going much better for the 27-year-old Russian. He's off to a very slow start by his standards with three goals and five assists in 15 games. He's also a minus-1 and has a team-high 11 minor penalties this season. It seems they have all been some sort of stick penalty (mostly tripping) in the offensive zone.

With coach Bruce Boudreau on an accountability kick this year, it has led to some reduced time for Semin. So much so that he was benched in Washington's 2-1 win on Friday night against the Devils. He only logged 8:25 of ice time according to the official stats.

He did see a return to some normal ice time in Saturday's 3-2 loss to New Jersey as Boudreau doesn't seem to want to bury his star's confidence.

“I thought he tried really hard. You're not going to keep benching him and benching him and benching him,” Boudreau said after Saturday's game. “He got a penalty early -- he went for the puck. That wasn't a lazy penalty.

“You guys are getting the wrong impression: The penalties are part of why he didn't play [Friday], but it wasn't the whole reason. He just wasn't playing very well, and we wanted to win the game. So we went with what we thought were the nine best players at the time. Everybody assumes it's because he took two penalties. He was still playing after he took the two penalties.”

Semin declined to talk to reporters after the game on Saturday, both the English-speaking media and the Russian-speaking crowd.

This is getting to be an interesting situation in Washington. Semin is obviously gifted, that is not in dispute. He is a free agent after this season. If things don't improve not only on the ice but off of it, it will be interesting to see how interested the Caps will be in bringing him back, particularly with the money he will likely command. He is making $6.7 million this season.

Rangers rolling

It was such a pedestrian start for the Rangers this season. They were 3-3-3, were still having troubles scoring and the addition of Brad Richards didn't seem to make a difference.

Then coach John Tortorella got this crazy idea to switch up the lines and split the tandem of Richards and Marian Gaborik that had New York fans dreaming big before the season began. Wouldn't you know it's worked. The Rangers are on fire these days, dumping the Hurricanes 5-2 on Friday night for their sixth straight win.

I'm starting to think the Rangers like their plush new (or renovated) digs at Madison Square Garden. They are now 5-1-1 at home this season. That's their best start since 1992-93..

Oh, and the Rangers are 4-0-0 with Sean Avery back in the lineup, outscoring their opponents 16-6 in those games. He scored his first goal of the season Friday. Just sayin'.

It's all in the Hitch

The Ken Hitchcock era is off to a nice and somewhat predictable start in St. Louis.

In the three games the Blues have played under their new coach, they have two shutouts, including Saturday's 3-0 blanking of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In those three games, they have earned five of the six possible points.

We all had an idea that the Blues would get better defensively and thus would have better goaltending under Hitchcock, but this quickly? I'd like to credit it more to the wakeup call of a coach being fired and a new one leading them than anything tangible at this point.

Either way, victorious goaltender Brian Elliott was pleased.

"That was the complete game we've been wanting," Elliott said. "Everybody was hustling. Everybody was working hard. No one took a shift off."

Veteran's Day surprise

We return to Boston for maybe the best moment of the weekend.

Before the game at TD Garden on Saturday night, the Bruins, honoring a family of an active soldier in Afghanistan, helped offer a special surprise. When the parents of the soldier came out to drop the ceremonial first puck, the Bruins announced there was a surprise and they were soon reunited with their son, on leave from Afghanistan.

It's hard not to get a little choked up watching that, it's a great moment brought to us by the Bruins.

I'm a sucker for these reunion videos. I got lost one day going through all the videos at the Welcome Home blog. It's chicken soup for the soul type of stuff, especially on Veteran's Day. I'd just like to say thank you once again to any vets out there reading.

Not Flame retardant

Nature isn't the only place where a flame will conquer snow any day of the week. It appears to be a law of hockey too.

The Colorado Avalanche just can't beat the Calgary Flames, no matter where the game is played. On Saturday the Avs failed for the eighth straight time trying to beat their division rivals, and that was with one spirited comeback.

Miikka Kiprusoff is as composed as any goalie in the league when he's under pressure. Just see the final minute of the 4-3 on Saturday as an example. The final minute was incredibly intense and Kiprusoff didn't look like he was trying to hang on to the tenuous lead; he had the poise of a goalie with an 8-1 edge.

Meanwhile the Avalanche, after that 5-1-0 start have now fallen back to 8-8-1 with their seventh loss in nine games.

Quote of the week

First of all, we all know it's Miller's quote referenced above. But consider this the Miller-less category.

It's hard to pick just one, but all my choices are coming from Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo. To say the he has been unimpressed with his team the last few outings would be pretty accurate. This quote came on the heels of the 5-2 loss to the Kings on Saturday.

"Like, we think we’re there. We’re not even close," Yeo said (courtesy of Michael Russo at the Minneapolis Star Tribune). "Like, we think we’re good enough yet, that because we won five games in a row that we’re there. It’s not even close. We said this when we were winning these games. We’re not there. We along the way forgot what we have to put in to winning hockey games.”

It sounds to me like a coach who is trying to bring his team back down to Earth after a great stretch of games, that Yeo sensed his team needed a little humbling.

Photo: US Presswire

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com