Monday, February 21, 2022

The Habs are fixed, the Flames are unbeatable, the Kings are better than we think, and more from a busy weekend

This was kind of a weird weekend. There wasn’t one giant story that dwarfed everything else – no blockbuster trades, no coaches or GMs fired, no huge controversies to yell at each other about. But it wasn’t a quiet weekend either, and in fact there was almost too much going on to cover it all in depth.

So instead, let’s fall back to the overwhelmed sportswriter’s best friend and break out the bullet points, as we cover some of the weekend’s stories in a lightning round. (Not to be confused with a Lightning round, which is the Stanley Cup final).

  • We have a win streak in Montreal! Yes, that’s right, I broke out the exclamation point even though it’s not very professional, because this is important. Believe it or not, this is somehow the first time all year that Montreal has won back-to-back games. Yes, one of them took overtime and yesterday’s needed a shootout. Look, they could use some positivity in Montreal right now, let’s all do our best to fake it for them.
  • Elsewhere in Canada, the two Alberta teams have been rolling, or at least were until last night. The Flames still are, having won nine straight. We thought Jay Woodcroft has turned the Oilers around by asking them to start playing defense, which apparently had never occurred to Dave Tippett, but I guess he forgot last night. Either way, a note to the hockey gods: It is now mandatory that these two teams face each other in the playoffs. We will not be accepting excuses.
  • Speaking of Calgary, Mark Giordano returned for the first time with the Kraken. I’m a sucker for a good comeback video, and since Giordano is one of the few returning players to have actually earned one, let’s rewatch it here:

  • In another return of sorts, Winnipeg fans got a chance to welcome back Bryan Little, who hasn’t played since being hit in the head with a shot in November 2019. It was good to see him get a well-deserved ovation from the crowd.
  • RIP to Rangers’ legend Emile Francis, who passed away on Saturday. “The Cat” was a goalie who also went on to serve as coach and GM in the 1960s and 70s before heading to the Blues. He was 95.
  • The Predators have lost four straight, all in regulation, and have the Panthers tonight before a showdown with the Stars that suddenly feels very important in a tightening Central race.
  • We had a trade to announce. Not much of one, but this isn’t one of those leagues where GMs are super bold and aggressive when it comes to actually doing their jobs, so we take what we can get. The Leafs sent failed UFA signing Nick Ritchie and a conditional pick to the Coyotes for Ilya Lyubushkin and the right to waive Ryan Dzingel. It’s a bit of a depth move and a bit of a salary dump, although it doesn’t help the Leafs’ cap much until next year. It’s also fun because the conditional pick could be as far away as 2025, and longtime readers know that I’m a huge fan of trades that reach way into the future. Let’s do this like junior hockey and trade picks eight seasons into the future or more. Come on GMs, you know you’re getting fired in a few years anyway, screw the guy who’s going to replace the guy who replaces you by trading all his picks away now.

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