Anaheim's playoff hopes are roasted

We’re coming to the point in the season where the bubble teams will
start falling by the wayside one by one. Technically there are still a
number of teams in the playoff hunt, but each passing game opens up the
divide that much more between the pretenders and the legitimate
contenders.

The Anaheim Ducks may be finished.

The Ducks
haven’t won since the Olympic break and goaltender Jonas Hiller, who
played so well for Switzerland,
is stumbling right along with the rest of the team.

“We
didn’t seem to trust each other and everybody tries to do some of
the work that the other guy’s supposed to do,” Hiller
said.
“We don’t trust. That’s just not how it works.”

Said
Todd Marchant, “It’s something that is very difficult to comprehend at
this point. Like Randy said, we’ve got to … go back to work and be
ready for that game on Friday.”

They
sit just seven point back of eighth place in the West, but even if the
Ducks go on a tear down the stretch they face something like a 30%
chance of slipping into a playoff spot. And this is a team that’s been
on the decline for a couple of seasons now; perhaps a year out of the
playoffs will afford them a chance to rebuild and reload a bit.

“The
easy thing is to give up and get down, and that’s what we’re trying
to stop now,” Getzlaf said. “Get our momentum going back the other way
and get our swing going like we did before the break.”

Ahh
yes. You have to respect the attempt at positivity, but I don’t know
what else you’d expect the players to say. I thought this was
interesting:

“The most frustrating part for our
coaching staff is when you go
through practice and you see our execution level at a much higher level
than in the games,” Carlyle said.

“That’s
what’s so mind boggling right now.”

That’s
the big challenge for all coaches; how to make the team perform in a
game at the same level they do in practice. The Ducks could be the best
practicing team in the NHL but win just one out every ten games. Is that
on the players or the coaching? I’ve always been a believer that the
ultimate onus is on the coaches; after all their job is to coach the
players and prepare them for the game.

But at some point the
players have to be held responsible, and perhaps the Ducks are at a
point where some major changes are in store. There a number of potential
UFA’s on the team, including Scott Niedermayer, Aaron Ward, Teemu
Selanne and Saku Koivu. The cap room for next season is manageable at
this point but not great. Is that enough room for Anaheim to retool for
next season?

Scroll Down For:

    Eichel makes everyone look silly, Varlamov gets the early hook

    Leave a comment

    You know, with Connor McDavid hogging so much attention, it’s about time that Jack Eichel provided us with another awesome goal.

    That tally came at the Colorado Avalanche’s (and especially Semyon Varlamov‘s) expense as that was the Buffalo Sabres first shot of the game.

    Patrick Roy apparently felt like this just wasn’t Varlamov’s afternoon, as Colorado’s head coach decided to pull him after Varly allowed two goals on as many shots. Evander Kane nabbed the other goal for Buffalo.

    You can watch the goal in the video above, which reminds us that “Eichel Tower” might not be a unique pun.

    Another shot of it:

    Check out Kane’s goal, too:

    To be fair to Varlamov, Calvin Pickard has already allowed a goal as well. The Sabres are currently off to a 3-0 lead, and maybe a small roll considering how well they played against Montreal on Friday?

    NHL on NBC: Red Wings, Bruins fight for Atlantic positioning

    Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) keeps Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) from the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    AP
    Leave a comment

    Both the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins are finding new ways to win these days, and while they might not be as obvious contenders as they once were, each team can still be dangerous.

    Sunday’s NBC game proves enticing for plenty of reasons, yet the most obvious is that if the postseason began today, these two squads would face off in an intriguing first-round matchup.

    The Bruins have taken the first two games between these teams in 2015-16, but they might be forced to face the Red Wings without crucial forward Patrice Bergeron, who may have been injured during an unlikely fight with Blake Wheeler.

    Detroit features Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as usual, although Dylan Larkin is a new, ultra-speedy forward who is worthy of plenty of attention in his own right.

    While Jeff Blashill continues to establish himself following up Mike Babcock, Claude Julien recently hit a milestone with his 500th win and earned plaudits from CSNNE.com as one of the best coaches in the league.

    (Speaking of milestones, Brad Richards is expected to play in his 1,100th game.)

    Boston currently holds the second spot in the Atlantic with 66 points in 55 games played, but Detroit is right behind them with 65 in as many contests. With the Tampa Bay Lightning hovering nearby, each team likely recognizes this as an important game.

    Goalie nods: Backups battle as Kinkaid faces Enroth

    Los Angeles Kings goalie Jhonas Enroth, of Sweden, deflects a shot off the stick of a Colorado Avalanche player in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
    AP
    Leave a comment

    The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings prefer to lean on workhorse goalies Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick respectively, but Sunday presents a change of pace.

    In the Kings’ case, Jhonas Enroth is playing in part because of (what Los Angeles hopes is) a minor injury to Quick.

    It’s true that the under-sized goalie sports a mediocre 4-4-1 record, but he’s given the Kings legitimate chances to win games considering his impressive (especially for a backup) save percentage of .925. Perhaps he can earn a few more reps if he plays well in what may be a tight game?

    Speaking of earning more reps, Keith Kinkaid must continue to work to prove that he’s able to make the jump from AHL goalie to at least an NHL backup. The Kings aren’t likely to make it easy for him, either.

    Elsewhere …

    Avalanche at Sabres: Semyon Varlamov vs. Robin Lehner

    Bruins at Red Wings: Possibly Tuukka Rask vs. Petr Mrazek

    Blues at Lightning: Best guess – Brian Elliott vs. Ben Bishop

    Flyers at Rangers: Steve Mason vs. (possibly) Henrik Lundqvist

    Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

    2 Comments

    Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

    Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

    (Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

    Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

    It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.