The Calgary Flames blew a 3-0 lead in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars, surrendering seven unanswered goals, to ultimately lose 7-3 and knock themselves out of the NHL Playoffs. In this current era of the Flames, that has been going on about as long as the Maple Leafs attempts at being good, the team has made the second round once (beat the Vancouver Canucks in 2015), lost in the first round three times (2017, 2019, 2020), and missed the playoffs entirely twice (2016, 2018).

Safe to say it hasn’t gone well for them.

Their core isn’t young anymore; Johnny Gaudreau is 27, Sean Monahan is 25, Elias Lindholm is 25, Mikael Backlund is 31, and Mark Giordano is 36. And while their defense is quite young in some spots, namely Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson at 23, they’re going to lose TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic to free agency this Fall. Matthew Tkachuk is still young, too. But unfortunately, none of these players carry the confidence in their management, a group who has threatened major change this season unless it saw significant progress.

I think that change is going to come. Despite a flat cap and limited cap wiggle room available anywhere in the league, it’s hard to see them throw the same dart at the board and expect a different result after five years of the same thing.

So does that mean Gaudreau? Lindholm? Backlund? Sam Bennett? How far does it go down? Or is it just Brad Treliving (who’s had an embarrassing year for himself) on the chopping block?

There’s not a lot of teams looking to make big changes right now, everyone’s tight to the cap and there are few teams likely eager to make a trade for the sake of it. I don’t know what happens to the Flames, but for a team that has some very good players in Lindholm and Gaudeau that they’re not happy with, maybe Calgary and Toronto can scratch each other’s backs into the second round next year?

Katya has an article coming out today about this, looking at frustrated and/or cash poor teams looking for new homes for their players. Brigstew brought the same thing up in an FTB a few days ago. Florida and Arizona are both teams looking to shed salary. The Penguins sound volatile (see here). The Wild seem frustrated. I wonder if Calgary is now in the mix?

Meanwhile there’s a little cell in my brain wondering when Toronto’s time to blow it up like Calgary will come. No, no, shut up. Not now. Internal growth. You were promised internal growth. That’ll fix it. Dammit.

Yesterday’s Games

New York Islanders 4, Washington Capitals 0 — NYI wins series 4-1
With the series win for the Islanders, the Lightning will either play the Boston Bruins in the first round (if Philadelphia moves on), or the Montreal Canadiens (if they manage to take the series in seven games).

Dallas Stars 7, Calgary Flames 3 — DAL wins series 4-2
The Calgary Flames blew a 3-0 lead that ended up being a 7-3 victory for the Dallas Stars, who move on to the second round and will face the Colorado Avalanche in the first round. The winner between Vancouver and St. Louis will play Vegas.

Today’s Games

The Flyers could end their series tonight. If they win, they play the Islanders with Tampa Bay and Boston facing off. If the Canadiens push a Game 7 without Brendan Gallagher and win, they play the Lightning and the Islanders play the Bruins.

In the West, the winner between Vancouver and St. Louis is going to play the Vegas Golden Knights. The Stars and Colorado Avalanche will begin their Second Round series on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Philadelphia Flyers “@” Montreal Canadiens — Game 6 (Philly leads 3-2)

St. Louis Blues “@” Vancouver Canucks — Game 6 (Vancouver leads 3-2)

Since the two series yesterday were resolved, there will be no games tomorrow (Saturday). First no afternoon games and now no Saturday games? Way to ruin the NHL, NHL.

Branches of Leafs

Getting deeper in the Bruce Boudreau rumours — Katya

What does the Second Round look like? Currently this:

PHI (1) vs. NYI (7) or TBL (2) vs. MTL (8)
TBL (2) vs. BOS (4) or BOS (4) vs. NYI (7)
VGK (1) vs. STL (4) or VAN (5)
COL (2) vs. DAL (3)

Which Second Round matchups do you prefer in the East?

PHI vs. NYI and TBL vs. BOS102
TBL vs. MTL and BOS vs. NYI28

Leafs defense prospect Mikko Kokkonen is on the third pair on his Jukurit Liiga team during the preseason in Finland.

Branches of Not Leafs

Matt Niskanen has been suspended one game for his cross check on Brendan Gallagher’s jaw. Gallagher is out for the playoffs after needing surgery on his face, while Canadiens video angles and publish pressure pushed the Department of Player Safety to get Niskanen off the ice for just one playoff game. I have a longer rant about this that includes Nazem Kadri and everything Pierre-Luc Dubois and Tom Wilson have gotten away with, but I’m waiting for Naz to win the Conn Smythe first so it can land the appropriate punch.

Seriously, can we just fire Mike Milbury already? Racist. Misogynist. Xenophobe. Idiot.

I was talking about Jesse Puljujarvi coming to the Leafs literally yesterday and Spector had the gall to publish this on the same day. He essentially says Holland didn’t get an offer he liked and Puljujarvi has been out-waited in staying away from the Oilers. There’s a handshake agreement to trade him if he can’t find a role on the team after training camp. I wonder if this article is just a call to teams to up their offers. I would still be willing to give them Kapanen.

Tucker Tynan, the draft eligible goaltender who had his leg sliced open earlier this season, is back on the ice in Chicago! Everyone knows his story, and if you missed it, Google it, the video is graphic. It’s great to see him practicing again.