Jonas Hiller played in tonight’s game for the Ducks in Anaheim. It was just his first full game since February of last season and he looked good. Hiller’s been saying he’s feeling healthy, but until seeing him play a full game, I’m sure some of the Ducks fans were still worried.
Randy Carlyle said if Hiller’s healthy, as he’s seemed so far, they’ll proceed as if the injury didn’t happen and it’ll be business as usual with Hiller in goal for the most part. I’m sure all Ducks fans are happy to see him healthy. Dan Ellis and Ray Emery did well for them last season and got the Ducks into the post season in spite of Hiller’s injury, but no one wants to see their number one goalie out with any injury – especially a bad one to the head.
The regular season is just a little over a week away and the Ducks will (again) be starting the season in Europe.
Tags: Dan Ellis, Ducks, fans, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, NHL, Randy Carlyle, Ray Emery
Fans may have booed the Kings off the ice after the second disappointing period against the Blues on St. Patrick’s Day, but the announced sellout crowd was ready to cheer their Kings on at Staples Center against the Ducks last night.
Many Kings fans had issues with the call against Alexei Ponikarovsky which made the puck going into the net irrelevant and put the Ducks on the power play, though Ponikarovsky had been pushed into Emery by Sbisa. Per the rules in the NHL, the no goal call was correct. The penalty was definitely a bad call, but since the Ducks didn’t score, that’s not a big point. Some may disagree with the way that rule works in the NHL (had Sbisa been on top of Emery, it would have clearly been a goal for the Kings and no penalty on either team), but the rules definitely read that way, so the only call I think was bad there was the penalty on Ponikarovsky for basically being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting pushed down on top of Emery.
The Kings and Ducks both played hard. Emery (who’s allowed only 2 goals in the 2+ NHL games he’s played this season) looked great for the Ducks and the battle was exciting for fans on both sides. Unfortunately, for everyone else fighting for a spot in the western conference playoffs, the game resulted in three points being handed out, since the Kings got a point for losing in overtime. I’ve never been a fan of getting something for losing. It makes no sense to me. I know it makes this time of year more exciting and that fans of many more teams believe their team has a chance, but I’ll never get used to the idea of giving a team credit for losing a game.
Willie Mitchell said the Kings “played really well tonight” and “exactly how we wanted to play.” He went on to explain that more times than not when they play like that, they’ll win the game. The plan, as always, is to continue to play well even though I saw some fans tweeting about when the Kings go on the road again, since the Kings swept their recent four game road trip and have only scored one goal in their 2 games (including a little bit of overtime play) at home since that trip.
The playoff race is going to be exciting until the very end this season largely because of points obtained in losing situations. Many of the remaining games are four point games to the teams involved, like tonight’s game in Anaheim where the Ducks (currently in 9th place, 1 point behind 8th) host the Calgary Flames (in 10th place tied in points with the Ducks, who have played two fewer games). If Anaheim wins tonight, they could frog to 6th place in the west if Chicago and Nashville both lose their games. If the Blackhawks and Predators both win and the Ducks win, they’d still end up in the 8th and final playoff spot until tomorrow’s games are played. Los Angeles remained in 5th place when losing last night and are three points behind the 4th place Phoenix Coyotes.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Blackhawks, Coyotes, Ducks, Flames, Freeway Face-Off, Hockey, Kings, NHL, playoffs, Predators, Ray Emery, standings, Staples Center, Willie Mitchell
With tonight’s win against the Blues, the Ducks are back in 8th place in the western conference. Emery’s first NHL start this season led to his first NHL win of the season. Every game of the season is important, but the end of the season (especially in these times where points for losing in overtime and shootouts make the standings even closer) seems more critical. Every win can mean jumping a couple spots up in the standings and every loss can mean being passed by a team or two to drop in the standings.
Though he didn’t exactly answer the question about why he chose to start Emery in goal tonight, Randy Carlyle explained that all you can as of your goaltender is that he give you a chance to win the game and said Ray Emery definitely did that tonight for the Ducks. They had a rough second period, but ended it still in a tie and managed to get and keep the lead in the third to beat the Blues.
The Ducks are playing every game like it’s already the playoffs and fighting to make sure they’re not going to stop playing at the end of the regular season. With their number one goalie (and many would argue, MVP until he was injured, Jonas Hiller) injured, Anaheim is facing a bit of an uphill battle.
Their SoCal rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, swept their recent four game road trip and face the Blues tomorrow night in LA. Although the Kings have climbed to 4th place in the western conference, they’re far from secure in the playoff picture. They’re only 4 points ahead of the Ducks, who are tied in points with the 9th place Calgary Flames. With 12 games remaining in the season, it’ll definitely come right down to the wire again this year.
Tags: Blues, Ducks, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, Kings, NHL, playoffs, Randy Carlyle, Ray Emery, standings
The Vancouver Canucks are the #1 team in the NHL (by 7 points). They’ve played one more game than the Red Wings and two more than the Flyers, but they’re in the lead by more than the maximum possible points in those games. Cory Schneider stopped all 26 of the Ducks’ shots to give the Canucks a shutout in the second of their back to back games this weekend in southern California and complete the SoCal sweep. (The Canucks beat the Kings 3-1 yesterday afternoon in LA.) Schneider said having a shutout at this level was “a good milestone and something to build on,” though he also mentioned that at this point in the season the win was more important than reaching this milestone. All the Canucks spoke highly of Schneider. Daniel Sedin even said “we don’t see him as a backup, he’s shown that he can play on any given night.”
Though the Canucks were the visiting team at Honda Center, you wouldn’t have known it from the crowd noise or the number of Canucks jerseys (especially in the lower concourse). Ducks fans started chanting “Let’s go Ducks” at the beginning of the game, but were quickly drowned out by the “Go Canucks go” cheer. At least from the TV broadcast it was probably difficult to tell the difference between Ducks and Canucks…
Ellis didn’t play badly and he’s 3-2 since coming to Anaheim, but after allowing 3 goals in only 16 shots (only .813 save percent), one has to wonder if Emery will be making an appearance in a game for Anaheim.
Since the western conference is still very tight, had the Ducks won tonight’s game, they would have moved into 8th place in the conference, but since they lost in regulation and Minnesota lost in overtime, the Ducks moved down to 10th. Clearly, the playoff race will be interesting until the end of the season.
Tags: Canucks, Cory Schneider, Dan Ellis, Daniel Sedin, Ducks, fans, Hockey, Honda Center, Kings, NHL, playoffs, Ray Emery, shutout, standings
In the beginning of the season (though many seem to have forgotten about this part), the Kings were doing great and in solid playoff standings (even #1 in the entire NHL on and off for a while) and the Ducks were struggling to stay out of last place in the NHL. Then, Jonas Hiller (the Ducks’ #1 goaltender) started to steal games for the Ducks. The Ducks still weren’t playing well, but they were winning and climbing the standings steadily. The Kings went through a rough patch and found themselves low in the standings and in a place where their fans were questioning their certainty that their team would be in the playoffs for the second year in a row in 2011.
Now that most teams in the NHL have 20 games or less remaining in the season, the Kings are in 5th place (just one point behind the 4th place Coyotes and they have a game in hand). They’re 5 points ahead of the 11th place Ducks (only 2 points out of the playoffs, but only 3 points ahead of 13th place). Jonas Hiller is injured (with symptoms of vertigo) and Ducks GM Bob Murray has already signed Ray Emery and traded the former backup (Curtis McElhinney) for Dan Ellis, who lost to the Wild in overtime last night. If I were the Ducks, I’d be making sure Hiller is seeing every specialist out there. I know a few people who suffer from vertigo and one way or another, the end of their symptoms is almost always the same. They see the right specialist or take the right medication and they’re back to normal until something else sets off their vertigo. I don’t know how the Ducks are handling the situation with Hiller, but he’s clearly still not healthy, which has already been very bad for the team. Hiller seems to be getting a bit more of the credit for the Ducks’ success earlier, but what good is that if he’s not able to play and the Ducks are sitting at home in the post-season again? The western conference remains tight. Only 5 points separates 4th place from 10th. The Kings have won three games in a row, in spite of giving up their 4-0 lead in today’s game and only beating the Avalanche by one goal. They’ve won 11 of their last 15 games and got points in 3 of the 4 they lost.
I find it interesting that the two southern California teams haven’t done well at the same time this season. I think it would be great for southern California hockey to have the Kings and the Ducks in the playoffs at the same time, but it looks like 2011 won’t be the year for that.
In spite of the struggling Anaheim team, somehow GM Bob Murray got a four year extension to his contract yesterday (an act that almost made one of my friends who’s a fan of the Ducks cry). I haven’t talked to anyone who believes Murray has been doing a good job as the General Manager of the Ducks, but clearly those most important in the decision believe in him. I think this will bring more mediocre hockey to the Ducks fans in the near future and the owners will wish they’d found a new GM, but time will tell. The trade deadline is coming up Monday at noon (PT), but so far the most shocking transaction was the Ducks resigning Murray. It doesn’t have to do with a player directly, but this development could have a longer impact on the team than most of the trade deadline moves on their teams. Many trade deadline moves result in a player transaction that only affects a team until the end of the playoffs that year. Very few of the moves affect a team for four years.
Tags: Avalanche, Bob Murray, contract, Coyotes, Curtis McElhinney, Dan Ellis, Ducks, general manager, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, Kings, NHL, playoffs, Ray Emery, trade deadline