Anaheim Ducks trade Steve Eminger to NY Rangers for Aaron Voros and Ryan Hillier

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eminger.jpgThe Anaheim Ducks defense is a far cry from the Stanley Cup winning unit that dominated its way to a championship through both brutality (Chris Pronger) and finesse (Scott Niedermayer). I guess that’s what happens when you lose a Norris Trophy winner per summer.

The Ducks moved Steve Eminger to the New York Rangers for bruiser Aaron Voros and prospect Ryan Hillier. The OC Regsiter shares the reasoning.

While he often logged significant minutes, Eminger was one of the main reasons why the Ducks’ defense struggled mightily as a unit. He was demoted for all but one game over a month-long stretch from Dec. 3 to Jan. 2.

Eminger was scratched 18 times in all and finished with four goals and 12 assists in 63 games. The seven-year veteran had a plus-1 rating but that didn’t indicate the times he was often pushed around in his end and forced into making mistakes under pressure.

The deal appears to further weaken a blue line that’s down to Lubomir Visnovsky, James Wisniewski, Sheldon Brookbank and recently acquired Toni Lydman as far as proven NHL players but it’s also a sign that they’d rather have someone else than Eminger, who is due to make $1.25 million.

General Manager Bob Murray is looking to add another top-four defenseman but the move of Eminger could also be a sign that they may be ready to fast-track the development of some youngsters in the system by opening up a spot.

It’s funny that I’d describe this move as a “sneeze” due to its insignificance since Earl Sleek of Battle of California gave the often-baffled Eminger a disease-inspired nickname. Here are a few thoughts on the defenseman from Sleek.

Now we Ducks fans here at BoC may have been a bit hard on ol’ Eminger — one of his biggest problems was showing up in the immediate departure of Chris Pronger. We had become so used to overall blueline competency that the mistakes of Eminger (and others for sure, Mr. Whitney) became a bit more glaring. His inability to hit the net on his shots, his unwillingness to even pretend to play the body — these failings became his traits, in a way. All we could see was shortcomings.

While the Ducks’ defense is now way up in the air, the Rangers defense corps is just about locked up with Eminger, Wade Redden, Michal Rosival, Matt Gilroy, Mike Del Zotto, Dan Girardi … and possibly RFA Jordan Staal.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.