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March 21, 1997

March 21, 1997

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. In each issue, you'll find news, features and opinions about the NHL and leagues across North America and the world.

NHL TEAMS

Playoffs still in jeopardy

It took a five-game sweep of a mid-February homestand for the Calgary Flames to edge themselves back into playoff contention in the ultra-tight Western Conference. In a 48-hour span, in which they won twice, the Flames moved from 10th to sixth place in the standings. “Of course, you could go from sixth to 10th as quickly,” pointed out defenseman Steve Chiasson, just before being traded to the Hartford Whalers. Pivotal factors: 1. Theo Fleury. He needs to emerge from a slump that saw him score just two goals in February. 2. Goaltending. Trevor Kidd needs to be consistent down the stretch. 3. Road play. The Flames were 8-20-5 away from home. Hardware hopefuls: Jarome Iginla, Calder. Needs: Someone who can score goals. The Flames already had four 20-goal scorers by the end of February, but…

FEATURES

Fans stiffed when NHL’s stars don’t come out

When Doug (Unhappy) Gilmour refused to skate back onto the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens after being selected one of the three stars in one of his final games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was because he was upset at reporters who suggested he might be traded. Sure, that’s a good enough reason to stiff 16,000 people. What Gilmour did was thumb his nose to the loyal Leaf fans who hung around in anticipation of the announcement and presentation of the game’s three stars. And he snubbed tradition. Over the years, the announcing of three stars has taken on a life of its own. It is expected following NHL games. More and more, though, fans who stick around for the ceremony are being cheated by players who refuse to return to…

NHL TEAMS

Isles could make playoffs, or stumble to 26th overall

With 17 games left, the New York Islanders were five points out of a playoff spot, but GM Mike Milbury was waffling about making a trade to help them get there. Milbury promised Feb. 21 if the team was in the hunt after a five-game stretch ending March 2, he would make a deal. Talk is cheap. As of March 7, he had not done anything. Pivotal factors: 1. Goaltending. Tommy Salo will have to steal a few more victories. 2. The Boston Bruins. The Islanders meet the Bruins four times in March (the Islanders won the first game) with the results going a long way toward deciding who finishes last overall. 3. Road play. The Islanders were 7-17-7 with 10 road games to go. Hardware hopefuls: Bryan Berard, Calder. Needs: A goal-scoring winger…

NHL TEAMS

No scoring, no winning

The Florida Panthers were slumping. Since the all-star break the defending Eastern Conference champions were under. 500, were having trouble scoring and GM Bryan Murray’s phone calls to get a goal-scorer had gone unanswered. Unless Murray can get some help or the Panthers snap out of their funk, it could be a long off-season. Pivotal Factors: 1. Scoring. Ray Sheppard and Scott Mellanby, the only two players with more than 20 goals, need to step up. 2: Ed Jovanovski. It’s time for Jovo-Cop to make his presence felt offensively. 3: Help from grinders. Tom Fitzgerald, Bill Lindsay, Dave Lowry and Jody Hull need to contribute as they did last season when Mellanby and Sheppard grew cold. Hardware Hopefuls: None. Needs: A scorer, preferably one who plays center. Available: Since Rob Niedermayer, Jovanovski and Dvorak are off-limits,…