The Ducks might be wishing that GM Bob Murray put everyone on notice a lot sooner than he did.
Anaheim fired Randy Carlyle and brought in Bruce Boudreau to try and change things around but it took the threat of housecleaning via trade to get the Ducks to snap out of their season-long funk. The Ducks are 5-0-1 in their last six games and have looked a lot more like the team many thought they’d be at the start of the year.
Jonas Hiller is healthy and playing strong in goal while the Ducks’ top players in Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf have caught up to how well Teemu Selanne has played all year. Even Selanne’s Finnish countryman Saku Koivu is showing up more on the score sheet.
The guy that has really made the difference of late though? Jason Blake. Since returning on January 4 from injury, Blake has three goals and three assists and has given the Ducks a healthy amount of balance in their lines. Blake’s return to action gives Anaheim three balanced lines to work with, something they struggled doing for most of the season.
The problem for Anaheim is that they’re in the Western Conference and that means life is harder trying to get back into the playoff picture. As of this morning, they’re 14 points back of eighth place Minnesota and while the Wild could be in line for a fall from grace, hopping five or six other teams in the standings is hard to do in the charity point era. The Devils showed last season that keeping the dream alive all season is possible, but the Ducks will have to keep this winning trend up a lot longer to be serious playoff contenders.
Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.
It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.
His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:
These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”
Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.
Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.
It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.
Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.
It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.
Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.
You can see and hear his full comments below:
If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.
Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.
Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.
Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.
It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.
The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.
It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.
Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.
Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.
Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.
The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:
The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.
Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.
The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.
The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.