Lubomir Visnovsky, Jonas Hiller

Ducks will have to overcome nightmare schedule to compete

With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Anaheim Ducks schedule analysis

Total mileage: 50,296 (third most miles in NHL and second most in the Pacific Division)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

Where to start? The Ducks have a 7-game road trip that runs between October 25 and November 5—a trip that eventually ends up in the Northeast. A couple of weeks later, they have an eight game stretch where they’ll play seven games on the road. While both sound difficult on their own, the Ducks have an even tougher stretch to deal with in February. The eight game road trip that runs from February 11 to February 23 has the potential to destroy a season. The start in Detroit, travel to the Northeast for a couple of games, before flying south to play a few Southeast Division teams.

Oh yeah, they also start the season in Europe for a pair of games against Eastern Conference opponents.

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, they finish with a three games on the road. If the Ducks are battling for a playoff spot, three games on the road to finish the season could be a huge deal.

Easiest periods

Believe it or not, there are a couple of easier stretches for Anaheim. Starting on November 17, they’ll play eight out of nine games at the Honda Center. The competition may be tough, but the Ducks have proven over the last few years to be a much better team at home than they’ve been on the road.

They also get a six-game homestand starting on December 29 and running through January 10. Even though they’ll have to deal with the Sharks and Canucks during the homestand, they’ll also get to see the Avalanche, Islanders, Blue Jackets, and Stars. There’s no question they’ll need to have a strong homestand and collect the points while they can. For good measure, they have a seven game stretch in March when they never have to leave California.

Overall outlook

The Ducks are one of only three teams who will be forced to travel over 50,000 miles this season. Their travel is the third toughest in the NHL and only trails I-5 rival Los Angeles for toughest travel in the Pacific Division.

By the time they get back from their 8-game road trip in February, they should have a idea if the playoffs are a realistic possibility. Over the course of the season, they’ll have long road trips scattered around long homestands. They’ll need to maintain their focus—whether it’s during extended homestands or long road trips if they want to collect enough points to make the playoffs.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.