Colby Robak

Ducks, Murray dealing with shot-blocking conundrum


Following Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout win over Philadelphia, Anaheim further established itself as one of the NHL’s best shot-blocking teams, sitting sixth overall with 398 on the year.

And in a related move, GM Bob Murray had to go out and get another defenseman today.

Technically, it was a D-for-D swap — Murray moved Jesse Blacker to Florida in exchange for Colby Robak — but Robak’s a year older than Blacker and has 42 games of NHL experience to Blacker’s one, suggesting this was a move to insert a healthy body, now.

And with good reason. All that shot blocking has paid a price: Francois Beauchemin is out with a broken finger and newly-acquired Eric Brewer is out with a broken foot, both busted while getting in the way of frozen rubber discs.

“Seems like a new guy every day,” Boudreau said, per the L.A. Times. “But when you block 28 shots [Monday, vs. Boston] and pay the price, you usually win.

“That’s what good, character guys do. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the sport.”

This brings up a familiar debate: Is blocking tons of shots a good thing, or a bad thing?

Grit-n-sacrifice narratives will tell you it’s vitally important for good teams and, to a certain degree, they’re right. The Stanley Cup playoffs are often littered with testimonials about blocked shots leading to victory; during the ’12 postseason, John Tortorella’s Rangers team forced one prominent voice to declare that shot blocking was taking over the NHL playoffs.

There is a counter-argument to this, of course — that teams blocking a lot of shots are, y’know, giving up a lot of shots. Which is a bad thing.

The Ducks currently sits atop the Western Conference and second overall in the league standings but, by advanced shot metrics, aren’t dominant. They’re a middle-of-the-road team in terms of shots for/shots against statistics, masked by the fact they have several d-men that excel at blocking pucks: Sami Vatanen leads the team and sits 17th overall in the NHL this year; Beauchemin finished 11th in the league last year, Ben Lovejoy 25th.

Add it all up, and the chance for injury is high. Murray’s seen it first-hand this year, and few teams have undergone more changes on the defense: In addition to the Brewer and Robak deals, Anaheim also traded away veteran Bryan Allen and was forced to rely on pair of AHL farmhands in Josh Manson and Mat Clark.

All this has kept Murray busy. He’s been one of the league’s most active GMs over the last 30 days, wheeling and dealing to replace injured bodies and keep his Cup-contending team afloat.

“I’d hate to have [Murray’s] job right now,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said, per the O.C. Register. “He’s earning his money this month and he’s got a lot of work to do. All we can do is keep playing.

“We’ve got a lot of depth in our organization. We’ve proven it over the years. Whatever group we put on the ice, we feel pretty comfortable going out there with a chance to win.”

Trade: Ducks acquire Robak from Florida for Blacker

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The Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks partnered for a flip of young defensemen on Thursday, with the Panthers sending Colby Robak out West in exchange for Jesse Blacker and a conditional draft pick.

Robak, 24, is the more vested of the two, having played in 42 career NHL contests (all coming with Florida). He’s appeared in seven games for the Cats this season, scoring no points while recording two PIM.

Blacker, 23, made his NHL debut with the Ducks this year and, to date, it remains his first and only big-league game. Like Robak, Blacker is a former second-round pick (Robak was taken 46th overall in ’08, Blacker 58th in ’09); he was originally selected by Toronto, but moved to Anaheim last year as part of the Peter Holland trade.

On the surface, the move seems to address Anaheim’s need for a NHL-ready defenseman. Francois Beauchemin, Mark Fistric, Ben Lovejoy and the recently-acquired Eric Brewer are all shelved with injuries and, as such, the Ducks were rolling with a thinned out defense against Philly last night, featuring Clayton Stoner, Cam Fowler, Mat Clark, Josh Manson, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm.

Kulikov to undergo second MRI, will miss Florida’s next two games

The Panthers will be without one of their minutes leaders this week for a pair of home dates against the Sharks and Isles.

Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, third on the team at 22:26 TOI per game, won’t play in tomorrow’s tilt against San Jose or Friday’s against New York because of a knee injury suffered over the weekend, per head coach Gerard Gallant.

More, from the Miami Herald:

Gallant said Kulikov is scheduled for a second MRI, but the team doesn’t think the injury is serious.

Kulikov watched Monday’s practice without crutches, but Gallant said he wouldn’t play the next two games at minimum.

“He won’t play the next two games and hopefully we know more by the West Coast road trip,” Gallant said. “We should know more later in the week.”

With Kulikov out, Colby Robak — who’s been playing as a forward — will be paired with Brian Campbell on defense, leaving rookie Aaron Ekblad to skate with captain Willie Mitchell. Erik Gudbranson and Dylan Olsen make up the other unit.

It’ll be interesting to see how Florida fares without Kulikov in the lineup. The club is playing .500 hockey — 4-4-4 through 12 games — but has a really tough stretch coming up after the Islanders game, with four consecutive road dates in Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Nashville.

Video: Could Panthers’ rookie Robak be looking at suspension?


Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Colby Robak could be the next NHL player getting a call from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, after an incident Saturday night.

Robak was assessed a major penalty for cross checking, and a game misconduct, when he hit New Jersey Devils forward Tim Sestito from behind into the boards during the third period.

Sestito, according to, appeared to suffer an injury to his upper back or shoulder. Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said Sestito would be fine.

The incident with Robak and Sestito came not long after the Devils’ star forward Ilya Kovalchuk left the game with a shoulder injury, although the extent of his injury is not yet known.

Those responsible for handing out supplementary discipline in the NHL have been busy this past week:

  • Canucks defenseman Alex Edler was suspended two games for colliding with Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.
  • Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul was suspended two games for a head shot on Tampa Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.
  • Panthers forward Eric Selleck was suspended two games for leaving the bench to get involved in an altercation.
  • Rangers forward Rick Nash was not suspended for a controversial hit on the Panthers’ Tomas Kopecky, but the league did release a video explaining why there was no further discipline.

Devils’ Kovalchuk injured Saturday


New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk left Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers due to an injury.

According to, Kovalchuk lost an edge and went hard into the end boards behind the Panthers’ net.

Devils forward Tim Sestito also left the game not long after Kovalchuk was injured.

Sestito took a hit from defenseman Colby Robak, who was given a major penalty for cross checking and a game misconduct.

Panthers forward Shawn Matthias also left the game temporarily, after taking a puck above the left eye. As per, he did return at the start of the third period.

The Devils won the game 2-1.