Ducks like what they see from GM Bob Murray, hand him four-year extension

It cannot be easy to follow Brian Burke, even if you’re not just talking about amusing facial expressions and often outspoken moments with the press. Yet that was the task at hand for Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray, who took over for Burke when the American GM left the Ducks for a be-careful-what-you-wish-for dream job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Ducks apparently like what they’re seeing so far from “Bar Stool Bob” as the team handed him a four-year extension today. This adds onto his current contract, which was set to expire after the 2011-12 season. (You can watch video of his reactions here.)

Ducks fans seem to have mixed feelings about Murray (a slight majority voted that the team made a bad choice by extending his contract in a poll at the OC Register), but that might stem largely from decisions he was forced to make because the team has a tight budget.

Murray had some bad luck (Scott Niedermayer’s retirement) and made some tough decisions (most notably trading Chris Pronger because the team didn’t want to give him a long-term extension), but the team’s future is still pretty bright. They have a young, talented core in Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry on offense and some promising pieces in goalie Jonas Hiller (if he can deal with his disconcerting health issues) and rookie defenseman Cam Fowler. He didn’t call the shots on every move that set up their impressive nucleus, but he navigated a trying negotiation process with Ryan and scored a steal when he drafted Fowler in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

The key will be to surround those players with competent players. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne have shown that they can still contribute at times, but it’s obvious that the team needs to improve the team’s supporting cast or at least make it younger.

Overall, Murray is making the best of a challenging situation in Anaheim. He might not always make flashy or “easy” decisions, but it looks like the Ducks are in good hands going forward.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.