ViktorFasth

Is there a goalie controversy emerging in Anaheim?

6 Comments

Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau has acknowledged that despite his team’s surprising 6-1-1 start — the Ducks sit second in the Pacific Division — he’s been faced with some difficult moments.

Namely, deciding which goalie to start on a nightly basis.

According to the Orange County Register, the Ducks have something of a goaltending controversy on their hands after newcomer Viktor Fasth jumped out to a perfect start (3-0-0, 1.30 GAA, .946 save percentage) while incumbent No. 1 Jonas Hiller has struggled (3-1-1, 3.54 GAA, .871 save percentage).

“[Fasth’s] doing a good job,” Boudreau told the Register. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to do and that’s make coaches make tough decisions. Hilly is the guy that we’ve relied on. He played 73 games last year.

“But it’s a real pleasant surprise what Viktor’s doing.”

Fasth was something of an unknown commodity heading into this season. The 29-year Swede spent the majority of his career playing in Sweden’s lower-tier leagues before bursting onto the scene with AIK in 2010-11.

Since then he’s won back-to-back Honken Trophies, awarded annually to the top goalie in Sweden (the only other multiple winners are New York’s Henrik Lundqvist and former Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist.)

In May, the Ducks signed him to a one-year, $1 million deal which essentially ended Dan Ellis’ time in Anaheim and dispatched Jeff Deslauriers to the AHL.

Fasth’s been great in wins over Nashville, Minnesota and San Jose, but also has just three NHL games on his resume compared to Hiller’s 255.

That’s why Boudreau is taking a wait-and-see approach to the goaltending position for this season.

“You look at Vancouver, who’s done the same thing,” the coach said. “They wanted to go with Schneider and Luongo’s played the last four games. Carolina just switched back to Cam Ward after going with Dan Ellis for a couple of games.

“So it’s an interesting dynamic. But when you have two good goalies, you can afford to do that. And eventually the other guy gets hot and he takes over and does what he’s supposed to do.”

Hockey tough: Mark Stone shakes off skate to face, scores

Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.  The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
Leave a comment

You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”

Nope, not in the NHL, at least.

In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.

Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.

What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP
2 Comments

It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

12 Comments

Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

13 Comments

Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.