Who are some of the hottest teams in the league right now? The Penguins have won five straight. The Predators have won nine of their last 11 game and the St. Louis Blues have only lost once in regulation over their last 10 games. But the hottest of all may be the Anaheim Ducks. Yes, really—the Ducks.
With their 2-1 win against the surging Ottawa Senators, the Ducks have now won four straight games and have earned points in eight straight games (7-0-1)—including a five-game winning streak at home. It’s not just that they’re winning; they’ve been incredibly impressive as they’ve outscored their opponents 33-14 in their last eight games.
Where was this team during the first three months of the season?
The problem for the Ducks is that they dug such a hole at the beginning of the season, they’ll need a historic run over the next three months to make the playoffs. Going into the evening games, they’re still 11 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. They’ll need to continue their hot streak and play like the Devils did last season just to make it interesting. Until then, Western Conference playoff teams will continue to root for the Ducks to knock off other contenders; it’ll take a while before the competitors start taking them seriously.
But if they can continue this hot streak for another few weeks, other teams will be forced to sit up and take notice. Until then, we’ll just be left wondering how a team can look this good for two weeks after looking so poorly for the previous two months—and how many of these players will still be on the team after the trade deadline.
Despite all of the garbage thrown in Roberto Luongo’s general direction recently, sometimes people forget he’s been a pretty successful NHL goaltender. After setting the Florida Panthers’ franchise record for wins at his last stop, he’s now replicated the feat while wearing a Vancouver Canucks jersey. With the Canucks 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, Luongo past Kirk MacLean on the all-time wins list for the Canucks.
It’s only appropriate that we pump his tires today after he earned his 212nd win for the Canucks. After all, that sounds a little more impressive than the 108 wins he had for the Panthers.
Luongo deflected the praise after the game. “It’s a great honor,” Luongo said. “We’ve had a great team here since I’ve been here. Looking forward to winning many more” That’s true—the Canucks have had some stacked teams since Luongo arrived in British Columbia in 2006. But whenever a goaltender is averaging 40 wins per season over the first five seasons with a new team, he’s probably doing something right.
Even last season, he and Cory Schneider won the Jennings Trophy in the regular season and he put up four shutouts in the playoffs. Of course, there are still fans that are going to question Luongo’s feats until he brings a Stanley Cup to the Pacific Northwest. But for a day, we’ll take a step back and pay respect to a man who’s performed at a pretty high level over the last five seasons.
It’s no secret that things aren’t going well for the Sabres. “Poor play” is one way to describe it. Other people might say the team is “reeling.” There are even columnists that say this is “the worst Sabres team in a decade.” Then there are some fans in Buffalo that might use a little stronger language to describe the Sabres’ recent play. That’s what happens when a team gets outscored 19-5 in the first four games of a winless road trip.
Today, Sabres sniper Thomas Vanek had some equally strong words for his team’s recent play. “It’s embarrassing,” Vanek said Saturday afternoon. “Since day one when I got here, I always prided myself — and it’s what I learned from the older guys — to be a good road team which I thought we’ve always done a great job at. Right now it’s a mistake and it goes south for us.”
It’s not just that the Sabres are losing; it’s the way the team is losing. Once things start to slide for the team, the opposition is able to put on the pressure and destroy the Sabres without much resistance. The struggles have been on full display as they’ve lost their last three games to the Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Jets by a combined score of 15-3.
“Mentally, it’s tough. I’m not going to lie here and say we’re doing just great because we’re not.”
Good to hear that he’s not going to lie, because they aren’t playing well. It doesn’t get any easier tonight as the stumbling Sabres face off against the red-hot St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.