Once-mighty Ducks have reasons for optimism

duckstrio.jpgEveryone from Ducks beat reporter Helene Elliot to PHT’s own Brandon Worley have written off Anaheim making the playoffs because, frankly, they don’t have much of a chance. At all.

It’s natural for fans to be disappointed with a failed playoff run, especially since the Ducks managed to sneak in last year and make a lot of noise. Looking at their roster, it’s not exactly as if they sport a threadbare group. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Scott Niedermayer and Jonas Hiller are all great-to-elite players (which showed when they represented their countries in the Olympics, along with Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu).

Elliot explains the Ducks’ troubles quite well.

The Ducks are done and won’t make the playoffs this season. And for a lot of reasons.

Their defense is porous, their injury list too often led by key players like Selanne, Saku Koivu and Joffrey Lupul (out 38 games after back surgery and complications).

Indeed, it looks like Anaheim is better off looking at next year and beyond. The good news is that while the Ducks will go into the summer with a host of difficult questions to answer and plenty of holes to fill, they have a promising foundation of young players. The bad news is that the team may be hard pressed to make quick improvements to their troublesome defense with the probable retirement of Niedermayer and (as Earl Sleek will tell you) the team’s self-imposed budget.

Still, the team has the aforementioned rugged trio of Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan to go along with Hiller. If the Ducks are lucky enough to convince Ryan to sign for Getzlaf-Perry money, they’d have those 4 players for about $20 million. That’s not a bad value for such a solid core, all entering the prime of their careers.

I wasn’t crazy about the trade that sent Pronger to Philadelphia, although I can see the logic if Anaheim was being pressured to extend the aging star defenseman. My beef was that Joffrey Lupul is a bad value considering his $4.25 million salary and the fact that he’s never scored more than 53 points. No doubt, though, even with the Flyers making the playoffs, it still was a big deal that the Ducks received two first rounders, well-liked prospect Luca Sbisa and a conditional third rounder.

GM Bob Murray will have to make some great decisions (and draft picks) as the Ducks’ transition from old to young goes from incremental to dramatic. After all, it is likely that Koivu, Selanne and Niedermayer are in their final season with Anaheim (and possibly the NHL). There’s reason to believe that the Ducks might see some long term gains. The question is: how short term will the pain be?

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    Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16

    Sean Couturier
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    When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.

    The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.

    Joy abounded.

    Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.

    Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.

    If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.

    This own-goal captures the start of Dougie Hamilton’s Flames career

    Dougie Hamilton
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    Here’s an understatement: things haven’t gone very well for Dougie Hamilton early in his first season with the Calgary Flames.

    (It must feel like the opposite of Tyler Seguin in Dallas for Boston Bruins fans, but feel free to disagree in the comments.)

    You could look at Hamilton’s meager offensive stats and break down his disappointing work through a very of “fancy” and traditional metrics …

    … Or you could just fire up a projector and show this own-goal on a loop.

    Senators lose Michalek, Zibanejad to injuries vs. Flyers

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    It remains to be seen if the Ottawa Senators can avoid losing against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, but either way, it’s been a costly night.

    The Senators saw two forwards leave the game with injuries, as Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad were banged up on Tuesday.

    Michalek may have gotten hurt blocking a shot while a Radko Gudas hit on Zibanejad left the Senators forward with an upper-body injury.

    Gudas may get a call from the league for his infractions.

    Update: Michalek’s issue could be significant.

    The Flyers ended up beating the Senators 4-2, so a tough night for Ottawa.

    Patrick Kane gets so much time, extends streak to 20 games


    In hockey terms, Patrick Kane was like a star basketball player left alone for an almost strange amount of time to score. Sometimes you miss that opportunity out of the sheer shock of getting that much time and space.

    Devan Dubnyk wasn’t so lucky, however, as Kane beat him to score a 1-1 goal.

    You can watch the whole sequence in the video above, including an absolutely fantastic play by Duncan Keith.

    With that tally, Kane’s scoring streak is now at 20 games, leaving him one game behind Bobby Hull’s Chicago Blackhawks record.

    PHT discusses Kane’s streak and his place among the all-time great runs in the clip below.