Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry

It’s Anaheim Ducks Day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team?  The Anaheim Ducks.

For more entries in this series, click here.

The 2013-14 season for the Anaheim Ducks may have struck fans as being eerily similar to the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

The Ducks finished on top of the Pacific Division and this time around they had the best record in the Western Conference to go with it. Instead of being upended in the first round, like they did in 2013 to the Detroit Red Wings, they were bounced in the second round at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.

Having a tremendous regular season only to come up short in the postseason has become an all too familiar trait for Bruce Boudreau coached teams, but you could give a pass on last season as the Kings were just beastly once they got going. That won’t do much to calm down fans who had to watch their hated rivals celebrate their second Stanley Cup in three years.

On the upside, the Ducks got another incredible season from Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Getzlaf led the team in scoring with 87 points while Perry was tops in goals with 43. Getzlaf’s effort was good enough to put him second behind Sidney Crosby in Hart Trophy voting. Perry joining him on the top line gave Anaheim one of the most potent first lines in the league.

Anaheim got career-years from Nick Bonino and Mathieu Perreault and an offensive resurrection from Andrew Cogliano. Teemu Selanne had an up-and-down final year in the NHL scoring nine goals with 27 points in the regular season and feuding with Boudreau to shining again in the playoffs with two goals and six points before riding off into the sunset… We think.

The Ducks also saw their defense step up big offensively led by Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen. Fortunately for them, they’re all young.

Youth was key late in the season as well as forwards Kyle Palmieri, Devante Smith-Pelly, Emerson Etem, and Jakob Silfverberg all played key roles. They also saw Patrick Maroon emerge as a power forward as well.

In goal, things were a bit of an adventure as they went from Jonas Hiller to Frederik Andersen to John Gibson in the postseason. Gibson’s performances in the playoffs and Andersen’s during the season essentially made Hiller expendable. The Ducks even dealt Viktor Fasth to Edmonton at the trade deadline to further clear up their glut of goaltending.

Offseason recap

Adding Ryan Kesler in a deal with the Vancouver Canucks was an inspired move to help them keep up with the Kings and Sharks up the middle. Losing Nick Bonino to do it was the proper price as who knows if he’ll have another season as good as his 2013-14 season again. Of course, who knows if Kesler will return to his Selke Trophy-winning form. He has to stay healthy.

We’re pretty sure Selanne is going to retire. At the very least they’re going to hang his number in the rafters in January. At worst, he’s going to play one more year in Finland. Either way, he’s out of the equation and they’ve moved on by signing Dany Heatley to a one-year deal. If he can produce more than Selanne’s 29 points from last season, it’s a win.

They locked up Vatanen to a two-year deal and also added Clayton Stoner from the Minnesota Wild to a bizarrely lucrative four-year deal. The Ducks did lose Jonas Hiller to the Calgary Flames and forward Daniel Winnik to the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agnecy but with their young players all graduating, they’re not crushing departures.

If things go awry this season, at the very least all Ducks goalies have pretty sweet masks to look at.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.