NHL News: Stick a fork in the Flames and Blue Jackets; Star coach leaves bench during game for COVID protocol; and more
The Calgary Flames were looking skyward after they hired Darryl Sutter and rattled off some wins in the wake of Geoff Ward’s dismissal. That seems like eons ago because the Flames look lost out on the ice with the swagger of a wet noodle.
Flames playoff chances now bleak; Leafs keep rolling
Calgary dropped their third straight on Easter Sunday against the Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews notched his 25th goal of the year and tacked on an assist as Toronto beat Calgary by a 4-2 score. For the Leafs they extend their point streak to 7 games and continue to stretch their lead in the North Division over the Jets and Oilers now by 6 points.
“A couple breakdowns. That’s a good team over there. There’s a reason they are where they are, and you could tell they were coming out with the mentality to win the game in the third. We have to have that same mentality when games are tied or you’re down, whatever the case, you have to have that confidence.”Flames Mark Giordano via NHL.com
Any hopes the Flames had for the playoffs are all but done now. They sit 6th in the division and are 5 points out of the last spot held by the Canadiens. Montreal also holds a 5 game advantage so there’s another possible 10 points for them to gain.
The time has come for Sutter and the Flames to look at this roster closely and start moving some pieces. Names on our Trade Bait Tracker for Calgary are Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau.
Blue Jackets struggles continue; Panthers take first in Central
John Tortorella is one of the more fiery coaches in the NHL, but his team doesn’t seem to have anything going – at least in the scoring goals department. The Florida Panthers shutout the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 3-0 result thanks to Chris Driedger 32 save performance. With the win Florida moves into sole possession of first after the Lightning fell asleep yesterday and lost to the Red Wings 5-1.
The Blue Jackets are mathematically still in the playoff race but nothing about their play indicates they are a legit candidate to get in. They’ve now lost three in a row and are five points back of the surging Nashville Predators for the last playoff spot.
“These are the stretches in the season where you don’t understand why [you are losing], and that’s why it’s so important to be consistent,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. “It’s frustrating [getting shut out], especially at this time of year when you know how important it is. You’re not going to win unless you get some goals.”NHL.com
Similar to the Flames; the Jackets have to decide if they will move players like Nick Foligno, a pending UFA at the deadline. He along with David Savard and Elvis Merzlikins are on our NHL Trade Bait Tracker.
Closing out Central action, the Hurricanes got goalie Petr Mrazek back and he shutout the Stars 1-0. Of course, that wasn’t the biggest story as Dallas’ head coach Rick Bowness left the game before the third period due to COVID protocols. More on this story as it develops.
Devils hold out Kyle Palmieri for a trade and the rest of the NHL action
Kyle Palmieri’s contract negotiations have gone basically no where. Yesterday before the Devils fell 5-4 to the Capitals they held him out. The belief is that a trade will be consummated in the coming days. The top two candidates for a deal are the Islanders and Bruins. I would not sleep on the Blues here.
Finally the Arizona Coyotes increase their lead over the St. Louis Blues by three points for the final playoff spot in the West. Jakob Chychrun tallied all three goals for the Yotes as the defeated the Ducks 3-2 in OT.