In the hockey world, that battle turned out to be sport imitating life as Nashville disposed of Anaheim in six games after winning 4-2 in Game 6. When you drop a playoff series there’s a host of things that could’ve gone wrong for Anaheim, we’ll take a look at four things that made the Ducks fly south for the rest of the season.
1. Defensive nightmare
Anaheim was a chic pick for some to get through the first round and cause trouble later on in the playoffs. One part of their game that was a bit too overlooked, however, was how questionable their defense was. With Ray Emery and Dan Ellis having to hold down the fort in goal, the Ducks D had to be on top of their game in a big way. They weren’t.
Taking a peek at the team’s plus/minus ratings in the playoffs (yes it’s a flawed in its ways, bear with us) you’ll see that the Ducks blue line didn’t fare too well. Cam Fowler and Francois Beauchemin were the only two players on the plus side with a +1 each. Regular season plus/minus monster Toni Lydman was a -2, Luca Sbisa was a -4, and Lubomir Visnovsky was a -2 as well. That ain’t getting it done and Emery and Ellis paid for the loose defensive coverage with their goals against average. Emery’s was a 3.23 while Ellis’ in limited duty was 5.85.
2. Power play goals or bust
It’s no wonder that Ducks GM Bob Murray was campaigning for more calls against Nashville earlier in the series. The Ducks power play was their one consistent source of offense. Of the 20 goals scored in the playoffs by Anaheim, eight came with the man advantage. They also had one empty net goal and a shorthanded goal. The point being here: Anaheim got killed at even strength. Nashville outscored Anaheim 16-10 at even strength in the series. If you’re not keeping up with your opponent when there’s the same number of players on the ice you’re going to have problems.
3. Face off failure
We’re going to point the finger squarely at Ryan Getzlaf who finished the series winning draws at 48%. For the guy who’s the top line center he has to be better at winning the puck to his teammates. On Shea Weber’s late game-tying goal in Game 5 it was Saku Koivu who was unable to beat Mike Fisher to win the puck. Those kinds of failures shouldn’t happen considering the class of player we’re talking about with both of them.
4. No supporting help at all
We love what the line of Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry brings to the table and they answered the bell in a huge way. As for the rest of the lines, things fall off a quickly fast. While Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu got their points, guys on the third and fourth lines struggled to get any offense going consistently. The Ducks lack in depth scoring and it showed in a big way throughout this series as Nashville kept bringing wave after wave of pressure from all their lines. Most of Nashville’s players might not be well known but they showed the Ducks the blueprint of how to succeed in the NHL without even trying.
The Ducks have some moves to consider in the offseason as well as getting Jonas Hiller back and healthy. They’ll be tough again next year but we can’t help but wonder how much tougher this series could’ve been if they’d adopted a handful of some of those old 2007 Stanley Cup winning tactics.
Chicago Blackhawks fans, start your engines!
Yes, according to MotorSportsTalk, the Blackhawks have become the main sponsor of CJ Wilson Racing’s No. 35 car, a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, for the upcoming IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge event at Road America next month.
That’s a sweet ride.
The partnership will officially launch at the United Center on Wednesday, August 3, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m in advance of Saturday’s race. Fans will have the opportunity to get up close to the car, meet the drivers and Blackhawks Ambassador Denis Savard, and have their picture taken.
The race takes place Aug. 6 at Road America in Wisconsin.
Since being selected by the Coyotes at 13th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, Brandon Gormley has had a difficult time breaking into the league on a full-time basis.
On Thursday, the 24-year-old Gormley joined his third NHL team, signing with the New Jersey Devils on a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level, the club announced.
Despite his draft status, Gormley has yet to play a full season in the big league, although this deal could give him an opportunity to end that. For the Devils, the deal adds more depth to the blue line in the organization and for a friendly price.
Last season, Gormley split time between the Colorado Avalanche and its farm team, the San Antonio Rampage. Despite some high expectations about where he could fit on the Avs’ blue line, he was eventually put on waivers in January.
He ended the season with one assist in 26 games with the Avalanche, and hit the open market after Colorado didn’t give him a qualifying offer.
After ongoing contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and restricted free agent defenseman Matt Dumba, the two sides have come to a deal.
The Wild announced Thursday that they had signed Dumba to a two-year deal, worth a total value of $5.1 million.
A breakdown of the new deal:
— In 2016-17: $2.35 million.
— In 2017-18: $2.75 million.
Selected seventh overall by the Wild in 2012, Dumba had his most productive campaign this past season, with 10 goals and 26 points in 81 games.
Known for his offensive skills — he had 20 goals and 57 points with Red Deer in the WHL in his draft year — Dumba also brings a coveted right-shot to the Wild blue line, which features four players with contracts of four or more years of term remaining.
As per General Fanager, the Wild still have $2.168 million in projected cap space, but they have secured all their remaining restricted free agents.
The New York Rangers announced that they’ve re-signed Marek Hrivik to a new contract. The term and financial details of the deal were not released.
Hrivik signed with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in May 2012. The 24-year-old made his NHL debut in 2015-16 and ended up playing five games for the Rangers. He had one assist and a plus-3 rating during his time in the NHL.
The young forward was an important part of New York’s AHL affiliate in Hartford. Hrivik finished his AHL campaign with 12 goals and 29 assists. He tied for the team lead in assists and finished third in points.
If you go by Hrivik’s tweet, it appears as though he signed a one-year contract:
Now that Hrivik is re-signed, the Rangers have no more free agents of any kind, per General Fanager.