Thursday, March 9, 2017

Revenge scenarios to watch as the season winds down

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. “They,” of course, are hockey players who have a chance to knock their old teams out of the playoffs.

Or maybe not. I didn’t really research the origin of that quote. But with just over a month left in the regular season and the playoff picture getting clearer, we can start thinking ahead to some revenge scenarios that could be in play.

After all, while helping your own team into the playoffs is always the top goal, doing it at the expense of somebody who gave up on you can make it even sweeter. Here are five situations where that could be exactly what happens.

Brian Elliott vs. the Blues

We may as well start with what's probably the most obvious case: the struggling St. Louis Blues vs. the goaltender they jettisoned in the off-season for a draft pick. At the time, the Flames thought they were getting an undisputed starter and the Blues figured they were in good hands with Jake Allen. It hasn't exactly worked out that way for either team.

Up until a week or two ago, it looked like the last playoff spot in the West could come down to the Flames and Blues directly. That seems less likely now, thanks to Calgary's recent hot streak. Elliott has been a big part of that, shaking off his early-season struggles to post a strong February that's continued into March.

Elliott's play has helped the Flames earn some breathing room, and today they're closer to challenging the Ducks and Oilers for home ice than falling out of a post-season spot altogether.

Meanwhile, the Blues can't seem to figure out what they are, following up a six-game win streak with five straight losses before two more wins. That losing streak overlapped with a trade deadline that saw Doug Armstrong seem to fold his hand, shipping out Kevin Shattenkirk without bringing in any reinforcements. But despite all of that, the Blues are still holding down the West's final spot, three points up on a Kings team that can't seem to get going.

However Elliot and the Flames finish, they'll have an impact on the Blues' chances. With a strong final push, they'll guarantee that the Pacific grabs one of the wild-card spots for the first time since the new format came into play, leaving one less spot available for St. Louis. And if they slump, they may end up having to battle the Blues for a spot directly.

Either way, Elliott will have a chance to earn some payback on the team that dumped him in favor of a younger model. And yes, the two teams face each other once more this season, on March 25 in Calgary.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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