Author: Joe Yerdon

Joe Thornton

Poll: How does San Jose bounce back in 2014-15?


We’re sure San Jose Sharks fans have heard enough about how last season ended. Getting bounced from the playoffs in the first round in seven games by the Los Angeles Kings after being up 3-0 in the series is a cruel memory for a fan base that’s dying to get to the Stanley Cup Final.

How to respond to such a gut-wrenching loss is what’s proving to be more dramatic for the Sharks. The offseason started with rumors of big changes coming only to see not much change at all. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau weren’t traded, Martin Havlat was sent out of town, and John Scott was brought on board to play sheriff.

So just how are the Sharks going to rebound from last season’s brutal exit?

Will Antti Niemi rebound or will Alex Stalock take the job in goal and carry them to the promised land? Will they run into the Kings again in the playoffs? Will they even make the playoffs? Your job is to tell us in the poll how you think things will turn out for Todd McLellan’s team.

Under Pressure: Bruce Boudreau

Bruce Boudreau

“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Anaheim Ducks we pick… coach Bruce Boudreau.

Let’s get one thing straight here before we get rolling: Bruce Boudreau has been a great coach for the Anaheim Ducks.

Ever since he replaced Randy Carlyle behind the bench in Orange County, all he’s done is get things turned in the right direction. In his two-and-a-half seasons, the team has only steadily gotten better under his watch. During the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Ducks won the Pacific Division and were one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Last season they were the best team in the West in the regular season.

As we know, the playoffs are what pays off and that’s where things have gone bad for the Ducks.

Two seasons ago they were bounced out by the seventh seeded Detroit Red Wings in seven games. This past season, they survived the first round against the eighth seeded Dallas Stars in six games only to lose in the second round to their hated rivals – the Los Angeles Kings – in seven.

If the story line about having dominant regular seasons only to come up short in the playoffs sounds familiar for a Boudreau-coached team, just imagine how he feels after his time with the Washington Capitals.

On the upside, it seems like Boudreau hasn’t taken the loss to the Kings as poorly as he did the Caps’ failure against the Montreal Canadiens in 2010, but with great success over the 82-game schedule comes expectations that playoff success will follow. After seeing L.A. win the Cup twice in three seasons, the pressure is even higher for the Ducks to win it again for the first time since 2007.

The Ducks have the talent to compete for the Cup. With Ryan Getzlaf playing like an MVP, Corey Perry scoring goals in bunches, a young defensive corps that will get better each year, and goaltending coming out their ears, everything is lined up to win.

The problem Boudreau has is he’s in a brutal Western Conference where success doesn’t come easily. He has a very good team to work with, but figuring out how to beat the likes of L.A., Chicago, St. Louis, and San Jose is what he’s got to do if he’s going to ever win that elusive Stanley Cup.

Tavares to have number retired by junior team

John Tavares

New York Islanders star John Tavares is receiving an honor that puts him in some special company.

The Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League announced they will retire Tavares’ No. 91 in a ceremony on Sept. 28. He’ll be the fourth player to have his number retired by the team and he’ll have his banner alongside those of Bobby Orr, Eric Lindros, and Red Tilson. As you might expect, Tavares is humbled by it all as Cory Wright at the Islanders’ website shared.

“To be up there with the three other guys that are there … it’s hard to really believe it,” Tavares said. “It’s something I’ll be pinching myself about for a long time. I really appreciate that people believe that I am a part of such a great history like that.”

During his three-and-a-half seasons in Oshawa, Tavares piled up monster numbers. In 223 games he scored 183 goals and had 383 points. He’s first all-time in Oshawa history in goals and second in points to Marc Savard.

It’s Anaheim Ducks Day at PHT

Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry

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.

‘Hawks sign Minnesota Frozen Four hero to minor-league deal

Justin Holl, Seth Ambroz

We’ll close out Blackhawks Day on PHT with news of a signing for their AHL team in Rockford and he’s got some Frozen Four cred.

Jason Gonzalez of The Star Tribune reports the Blackhawks have signed former University of Minnesota defenseman Justin Holl to a one-year deal to join the Rockford IceHogs.

Holl, 22, was a 2010 second-round pick by Chicago and will forever be remembered by Golden Gophers fans for helping defeat hated rival North Dakota in the 2014 Frozen Four semifinal. His goal with 0.6 seconds left gave the Gophers a 2-1 victory and a spot in the national championship game against eventual champion Union College.

In four seasons at Minnesota, Holl tallied eight goals and 38 points. He joins what’s become a crowded pack of young defensemen in the fold with the Blackhawks that includes former college players Stephen Johns (Notre Dame), Adam Clendening (Boston University), and Trevor van Riemsdyk (New Hampshire).