Anaheim Ducks at a goaltending crossroad

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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.

WATCH LIVE: Canucks vs. Kings from Shanghai, China

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The Vancouver Canucks and L.A. Kings will make history on Thursday.

The two teams will face each other in an exhibition series in China, marking the first time NHL teams will play preseason games in that country. The two-game set gets underway with Thursday’s contest from the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.

Set your alarms, wake up early (especially if you’re on the west coast!), put on a pot of coffee and catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 a.m. ET) or online with the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for today’s game:

NHL hopes to make inroads in China with exhibition games

It was a little on the foggy side for Canucks practice in Shanghai

Canucks-Kings exhibition series in China highlights preseason schedule

NHL preseason games in China are ‘the biggest deal’ for local fans

NHL looks to China to ‘expand the sport’

 

Video: Flames goalie makes incredible behind-the-back glove save

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A save of the year candidate in September? It’s possible.

Jon Gillies of the Calgary Flames made an incredible stop during Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Vancouver Canucks.

The camera angle from directly above the net is the best, as it clearly shows how Gillies appeared to bump the puck back toward the goal line, then suddenly reach back with a no-look, behind-the-back glove save to prevent a Canucks goal and stop play.

That is one incredible save.

Drouin shows ‘commitment’ to community with donation to Montreal hospital

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Jonathan Drouin has yet to play a regular season game for his new team, the Montreal Canadiens.

But after getting traded to the Habs in the summer, Drouin has already made a sizable contribution in the community, donating $500,000 over 10 years to the University of Montreal Hospital Centre and planning to help in the fundraising activities to raise an additional $5 million, according to The Canadian Press.

From Sportsnet:

“I think all of that had some impact on his overall decision making,” Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh told Sportsnet. “One day when he’s retired and 50 years old, that hospital [which will begin serving patients for the first time this coming October] will still be here and he’ll have played a role in its development. That means something to him.

“But I think more than anything else he wants to help people. If he can help people—the hospital is going to be the largest hospital in North America and there’s a tremendous need for it in the city—and if he can use the fact that he plays for the Montreal Canadiens to do that, I wish more players felt that kind of responsibility to their communities.”

As noted in the Sportsnet piece above, Drouin is following in the footsteps of Saku Koivu and P.K. Subban, who made generous donations in the community during their time in Montreal.

The Habs acquired Drouin from the Lightning in June, sending prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay. They then signed the 22-year-old forward — who was born in nearby Ste-Agathe, Que. — to a six-year, $33 million contract.

It won’t be long before the pressure falls on Drouin’s on-ice ability, especially playing as a potential No. 1 center in Montreal and essentially being a hometown player for the Habs. But without even playing a meaningful game for his new team, he’s already giving back to an important cause in the city.

“And when you look at that, if you make $6 million and you give $50,000 a year, it’s not a big deal and you get tax receipts,” he said, per the Montreal Gazette. “But it’s a commitment, and being involved in the community and doing something for your community I think it’s something that you have to do.”

Lupul apologizes, takes ‘full responsibility’ after calling out Maple Leafs on Instagram

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Joffrey Lupul made headlines earlier this week after appearing to make accusations against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Instagram.

The comments — which have since been deleted but caught on a screen grab — came after the Maple Leafs announced Lupul failed his physical prior to training camp for the second year in a row.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per the screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

On Wednesday, the 33-year-old forward, who hasn’t played since the 2015-16 season, posted a statement on his verified Twitter account, saying his Instagram comments were an “inappropriate response.”

Here is his entire statement:

What’s also significant is that he stated he will not seek a second medical opinion regarding this failed physical. As previously noted, that option was available to him, although, per reports, the deadline for this was 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Lupul is in the final year of his five-year, $26.25 million contract.