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
Is it just me, or is it sad that NHL.com is one of the worst places to find information on the NHL? I don’t know about most fans, but I think TSN.com covered the trade deadline the best (as usual). Their live tracker had trades posted within minutes. NHL, on the other hand had the countdown clock. That’s it. Apparently, they thought having a countdown to the last second was more important than having trade updates, since their “Complete list of NHL trades, since Feb. 3” was always updated about 2 hours after the trade happened (TSN’s site listed the time of each trade as the trade was posted just minutes after it took place).
MLB.com does a good job of keeping up on baseball. I don’t see why the NHL can’t do the same. The NHL could really use some help from MLB’s marketing department, too. Though I don’t watch commercials, I notice baseball commercials as I fast forward through them when watching other shows on many channels. Conversely, I only see NHL commercials on NBC during their NHL game of the week or on Versus during hockey games. Versus could show NHL commercials all the time and they probably do. However, like most people I’ve polled, I only watch Versus, or even know it exists, because of hockey. Some fans I polled also watch the Tour de France, but that takes place in the summer during the NHL off-season, so NHL commercials then wouldn’t make too much sense. There is no reason NHL commercials have to be limited to NBC and Versus. They should be on during American Idol, CSI, and all the other popular shows.
I have a lot of female friends who don’t follow hockey, but they know Sidney Crosby’s name because he’s an attractive kid. There’s no reason well-done advertising and focusing on some of the other attractive NHL players couldn’t get women like them (and teenagers) to start watching hockey occasionally.
The trades started out pretty slowly this year, but have certainly picked up in the last hour. Enjoy the last few hours of the trade deadline madness!
Tags: fans, Hockey, MLB, NBC, NHL, Penguins, Sidney Crosby, trade deadline, TSN, Versus
I’m a big fan of the NHL in HD and although I don’t think Versus covers the games as well as ESPN did or as NBC, CBC, TSN, MSG, or most of the FSN & other sports stations that air NHL games, I love the fact that Versus has the games they show on in HD – every single one of them. Between them, NBC, the NHL Network, and Center Ice’s HD channel, there’s almost always a game on in HD.
That being said, I thought it was pretty sad that the only HD game (in fact, the only game) in the NHL today was the last place teams of each conference (Colorado Avalanche at New York Islanders). I’m sure when Versus picked this game for national coverage they never imagined it would be the two last place teams against each other. However, it seems like they might want to consider NBC’s way of choosing what games they’re going to put on national TV. I’ll watch almost any hockey game, but even I didn’t actually care about today’s game.
The Islanders are still 10 points behind the Avalanche after tonight’s game and seem to have last place in the NHL sewn up, since they’re also 5 points behind the Atlanta Thrashers.
It’s still a very tight competition in the western conference this season. The last place Avs are only 10 points behind the 8th place Ducks, though they are the only team in the conference that’s played as many games as the Ducks so far this season.
Clearly, the next couple days will be exciting. It’s always interesting at this time of the season and the crazy rumors seem to be flying around as usual. Every fan wants to believe their team can end up getting that essential player without giving up anyone important, but we all know that’s not how it works.
Enjoy the trade deadline madness.
Tags: Avalanche, CBC, Ducks, FSN, HD, Hockey, Islanders, MSG, NBC, NHL, rumors, Thrashers, trade deadline, TSN, Versus