A few of us were pretty surprised that none of the fans we heard chanted “One more year” for Selanne at all tonight as the Ducks rallied to beat the Avalanche 5-4 after being down 2-0. The fans had plenty of perfect opportunities… Selanne scored on a penalty shot tonight to score the Ducks’ first goal. He also got a point in all five of the Ducks’ goals tonight and scored the 22nd hat trick of his career (13th as a Duck). Tonight was Selanne’s 33rd career 5 point game and he was the first player age 40 or older to record a hat trick and five points (or more) in a single game. Selanne has been truly amazing this year. He’s second in Ducks scoring and looks better than most players in the NHL.
In spite of all this, the only person I heard actually chant, “One more year” tonight was Corey Perry, teasing as he walked by the scrum interviewing Selanne and (of course) asking him his thoughts on continuing to play. At this time last year, retirement was something Selanne seemed to be seriously considering. This year, I don’t see how he could be thinking of retirement. Last season Selanne played very well, but this year he’s been truly amazing. For his part, Selanne said he’s been feeling great the whole year and he’s still having fun, which is the only reason he’s still around. He also said, “My mind goes like an elevator – one day I feel that I can play ten more years and the next day I feel why do I keep doing this? That’s why I’m not yet thinking about that during the season.” Selanne went on to say that it’s better to think about these things after the season and then asked to talk about something else.
Selanne’s penalty shot goal was the second of his career, the last one coming in Tampa Bay when he was playing for the Winnipeg Jets on March 9, 1993. I would have never guessed that it had been 18 years since Selanne scored his only other penalty shot (he’s now 2 for 6), but that’s because Selanne has been so amazing in his career and continues to stun crowds. With 6 games to go this season, Selanne is already the third highest scorer of 40+ years. Only Gordie Howe (with 103 points in 68-69) and Johnny Bucyk (with 83 points in 75-76) scored more at that age. Clearly, no one but Selanne can know what he feels when recovering for a game, but watching him on the ice, I can’t imagine how this could possibly be his last season in the NHL. (Not surprisingly, Selanne was also the top NHL performer of the day, not just tonight’s game in Anaheim.)
Since the Ducks and Blackhawks both won tonight, Anaheim maintained their position in the standings (7th place in the western conference). Clearly, every point is important at this time of the season when all the teams are so close. As Randy Carlyle pointed out, everyone other than the top couple teams and bottom couple teams is worrying about winning games to get into the playoffs and maintain their position in the standings at the time. Though four teams have secured their spots in the playoffs in the eastern conference, the Canucks are the only team completely mathematically secure in the western conference so far.
Tags: Avalanche, Blackhawks, Canucks, Corey Perry, Ducks, hat trick, Hockey, NHL, penalty shot, playoffs, Randy Carlyle, retirement, standings, Teemu Selanne
With tonight’s overtime win against Calgary (after giving up an early 3 goal lead) put them back in the 8th and final playoff spot of the western conference… at least until the end of tomorrow’s two games. Since the Ducks needed overtime to beat Calgary, the Flames could take their spot away for a bit tomorrow. The Ducks have two games in hand on the Flames now and will have 3 in hand as of tomorrow, so they’re concentrating on their own performance. Randy Carlyle even joked about it, since he really wasn’t sure if they were back in the playoffs or not. Clearly, none of the Ducks (or their fans) were happy with the way they gave away their early three goal lead and were losing 4-3 until Selanne tied the game with a power play goal at 17:59 of the third period. The Ducks’ two power play goals (their second goal of the game was a power play goal by Corey Perry) in three chances were definitely a good sign for fans who’ve watched the Ducks’ power play struggle lately.
Bobby Ryan had an unsuccessful penalty shot attempt in overtime (in a play that seemed even less obvious than last night’s take down of Dustin Brown when the Ducks beat the Kings in LA), but that didn’t deflate the team. On the contrary, the Ducks seemed to draw power from the penalty shot attempt. They won the next face-off and scored immediately. Corey Perry wasn’t even sure where the puck hit him for his game winning 39th goal of the season. He said it might have even been Lydman’s goal, but the official stat sheet came out still saying the goal was Perry’s, so he’s one step closer to having 40 goals this season.
Corey Perry has increased his points every season he’s played in the NHL starting with 25 his first season. He had already reached last season’s point total last night in Los Angeles and has a career high 79 points after his two goals and assist tonight. The Ducks are heading on the road for their three game road trip starting in Dallas Wednesday. Most of the teams they face in their last ten games of the season are the teams close to them in the standings (the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, & Los Angeles Kings). It’s going to be a tough road for them with six away games and 3 more sets of back to back games – especially when most of the teams they’re facing are fighting as hard to get into the playoffs as the Ducks.
Tags: Blackhawks, Corey Perry, Ducks, Dustin Brown, Flames, Hockey, Kings, NHL, penalty shot, playoffs, power play, Predators, Randy Carlyle, Ryan Getzlaf, standings, Stars, Teemu Selanne
It may be early and Terry Murray may not pay attention to the standings much, but the fans know that their Los Angeles Kings are #1 in the west and #2 in the NHL after their league leading 8th home win in a row to start the season. The Kings are also tied with the Ducks for the longest current NHL winning streak with six games. Their penalty kill is still perfect at home (and their overall pk is also #1 in the NHL). Their top line had points in 4 of their 5 goals including a goal on the first shot of the game and one on a beautiful penalty shot by Dustin Brown. As Kopi said, “it’s nice to see him get one of the nicer goals.” Brown said, “I had a plan at center and I switched about the blue line.” He mentioned that he has three moves that he does and two come off that move to the right. He said he just “pulled a Kopi and slid it five hole.” The penalty shot might not be as rare as it was in the past, but those goals are still special for the players and their fans.
Justin Williams tied his career high point streak of 9 games with his goal against the Islanders. Jonathan Quick has consistently been one of the leading goaltenders in the league (and had a save percentage of almost 95% tonight). The Kings even scored on the power play (not the Kings’ strong suit this season) against the Islanders. What more could LA Kings fans ask of their team? It really doesn’t get much better than this as a fan. It’s good to be the Kings and their fans this season.
A couple years ago, the Kings would have started slow against the last place team in the NHL. They didn’t do that against the last place New York Islanders. Instead, the Kings came out strong and extended the Islanders’ league leading losing streak to ten games.
Southern California is not the place to visit if you’re on any other team in the NHL this season. The SoCal home teams have lost only 2 games this season and gone without a point in a game only once.
Possibly one of the best signs for Kings fans is that it’s getting better all the time. The last few games, the Kings’ top line seems to have clicked. Kopi has 7 points in the last three games, Brown has 5, & Parse has 3. Kopitar scored his 300th career NHL point with his second goal of the game against the Islanders (and the 301st with his assist in the last Kings goal). When asked about what changed for his line, Kopitar said he thought they’d been making good plays without getting any results, “but now we get a few bounces here and there and we score a couple goals and then the confidence gets high and everything seems a lot easier.” That’s really how things have been going for the Kings all season. Many players have talked about how everything seems to go your way when you’re winning. When things are going well for your team, all the bounces seem to go your way. The Kings are continuing to work hard in every game and not phoning it in – ever. The team clearly enjoys being on the top of the standings and having other teams have to come into Staples Center to play up to the Kings’ level of play and not the other way around. Teams coming to LA know they’re going to have a tough time and play harder as a result.
This year’s Kings remind me a lot of the Penguins of 2008, though they have a better record. They were knocked out of the playoffs (many of the players’ first in their NHL career) early last season and they’re clearly determined to do better this season. Before the season started, I said I thought the Kings would be in the conference finals and perhaps even the Stanley Cup Finals. The more I see of this team, the more I believe they’ve got the right mindset and skill set to go deep into the playoffs.
The Kings travel to San Jose to face the Sharks Monday night. That’s always a tough building and the team knows they have to take their A game with them to San Jose. Clearly, the team hopes to continue their winning streak there.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Hockey, Islanders, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Kings, losing streak, NHL, penalty kill, penalty shot, playoffs, power play, Scott Parse, Sharks, Stanley Cup Finals, Staples Center, Terry Murray, winning streak