Goaltender Jonas Hiller #1 of the Anaheim Ducks stands in the crease prior to the start of the game against the Calgary Flames at Honda Center on March 2, 2012 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Flames 3-2.
(March 1, 2012 - Source: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America)

Anaheim Ducks at a goaltending crossroad

10 Comments

Goaltender Viktor Fasth was one of the 2013 campaign’s most pleasant surprises. He made his NHL debut at the age of 30 and got things off with a bang by winning his first eight NHL starts.

Although he did have some rough outings along the way, he didn’t slow down significantly and ended up with a 15-6-2 record, 2.18 GAA, and .921 save percentage. Meanwhile, Jonas Hiller bounced back from a poor start, but after playing in 73 contests in 2011-12, he’s not the clear starter going into 2013-14.

Anaheim might even trade Hiller and put their faith entirely in Fasth, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them start the season with both goaltenders. After all, Fasth only has 25 games worth of NHL experience and as good as they have been, that’s an awfully small sample size to put your trust in.

In the short-term, it might make more sense for them to let Hiller and Fasth battle for playing time, but by the end of the 2013-14 campaign, they will be forced to make a decision.

Hiller’s entering the final season of his contract and if it’s a good one, he might seek a raise from his current $4.5 million annual salary. If they finish the season feeling confident with Fasth, then they might let Hiller walk if they haven’t already dealt him. If Fasth has a rough campaign though, the Ducks will be in a bit of a challenging situation.

They already have close to $42 million committed to 13 players in 2014-15, according to Cap Geek, so giving Hiller a raise might be painful. It will help though that Fasth’s contract with its $2.9 million cap hit expires in the summer of 2015, so if they opt to re-sign Hiller, then there will only be one season of overlap before their netminding costs get more reasonable.

In either scenario, you can expect Fasth or Hiller to be gone within the next two seasons. If one of them falters, then it wouldn’t make much sense to keep that one when Anaheim has some promising young goaltenders in the pipeline in John Gibson and Igor Bobkov. Even if both of them excel, it won’t be cost effective to retain both of their services for long given their contract situations.

So this is a key season for both Fasth and Hiller. Not only are they battling for the starting job, but they’re also fighting for their next gig, be it with the Ducks or another team.

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

113 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

ovicrosbynbcsn
NBCSN screen
18 Comments

Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

16 Comments

Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
4 Comments

Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.