Jonas Hiller

Brutal February will reveal if Ducks are for real


The playoffs are still far out of reach right now (the Colorado Avalanche team they beat tonight are ahead by 11 points), but you can’t blame the Anaheim Ducks for starting to believe.

The Ducks are on the kind of run that might remind some of their blazing drive to the playoffs in 2010-11. Anaheim’s 3-2 win over the Avalanche is its fifth win a row, improving the Ducks’ January record to 8-1-1.

If any player is adhering to hypothetical New Year’s resolutions, it’s once-wayward goalie Jonas Hiller. His Sunday performance is a tidy microcosm of his turnaround month. Hiller stopped 43 out of 45 shots to win a game that seemed quite one-sided in the Avs’ favor.

That was most clear as Hiller shut out Colorado in the first period even though the Ducks were out-shot 15-2. (Meanwhile, Hiller’s former teammate Jean-Sebastien Giguere only set aside one of those Anaheim shots.)

Colorado won the shots battle in all three periods but the Ducks came out on top as their big guns made the difference. Bobby Ryan scored two goals, Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist and Teemu Selanne collected a helper of his own.

A quick look into the Ducks’ future

The next month or so will be an excellent test regarding how serious the Ducks might be. January’s last two games are away from Anaheim, followed by a four-game homestand and then they face a staggering eight-game road trip. Their schedule is a little more balanced toward the end of the season, but they’ll have a pair of three-game road trips after that bombshell eight-gamer.

By the time the trade deadline rolls around, it should be pretty clear how legitimate these Ducks really are. Do you expect them to survive that journey or become sellers once the big-time swapping heats up?

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?