The Flames snapped their four-game losing streak with an important 3-2 shootout win over the division-leading Wild. With the win, Calgary is now one point back of the Wild in the Northwest. Truth be told, they should and would be ahead of Minnesota if it weren't for a quick whistle late in the second that wiped out a Kristian Huselius goal. I don't usually criticize refs for quick whistles in the crease, as I realize how fast the game goes and how difficult it must be to track the puck there when bodies pile up, but the call was so clearly incorrect that every TSN analyst criticized the call afterward. Not coincidentally, Kristian Huselius scored the Flames' second goal and Jarome scored the shootout winner. The Flames also got needed secondary scoring with newly returned from injury David Moss. Up next for Calgary is the bottom dwelling Kings on Friday, so maybe they'll be able to take the division lead by the weekend.
Of particular interest, though, in this game was the attendance of Canadiens assistant GM Pierre Gauthier. He also was in the top box for last night's game in Nashville, which obviously fuels trade speculation. Currently, the player on the Flames with the most potential to be traded seems to be Alex Tanguay, whose $5.4 million cap hit the Flames will probably have to dump in order to re-sign Kristian Huselius and Dion Phaneuf. When prompted to speculate on potential trades between the Habs and Flames, the TSN talking heads proposed a deal that would send Tanguay to Montreal for Michael Ryder. This trade would essentially trade one underachieving forward for another - although Ryder's underachievement this year has been far more drastic than Tanguay's. After back-to-back 30-goal seasons, Ryder is on pace for just 12 this year. The advantage for the Flames comes in the fact that Ryder is about $2.5 million cheaper than Tanguay and his statistics prove that he could replace Tanguay (once a 30-goal scorer with Colorado, Tanguay is now on pace for less than 20 this year). However, to acquire Ryder would be to acquire another pending UFA for the Flames to re-sign in addition to Huselius and Phaneuf. Another factor which would discourage such a trade would be the non-committal attitude towards hockey that Daniel Ryder, Michael's brother, is displaying with the Flames farm team in Quad Cities. He has shown up to hockey camps out of shape and late, and most notably, his suspension without pay by the Flames after he outright left Quad Cities for Newfoundland after six games. Daniel's flaky behavior might not compel Darryl Sutter to want to acquire Michael.
Nevertheless, Gauthier's scouting of the Flames can't be ignored among the rumour-chasing crowd. It will certainly keep alive the never-ending Tanguay-for-Kovalev rumours, which the Calgary media have been writing about since the start of the season. Such a trade makes little sense to me, as not only does Sutter not typically go after European players not from Scandanivia, but Kovalev's cap hit is only $700,000 less than Tanguay's. If nothing else, Gauthier's scouting at least is a sign that Darryl Sutter is in the trade market.