The 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.
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.