Posted on: November 12, 2011 2:36 pm
By: Adam Gretz
A pair of Pacific Division teams suffered a some rather large injuries on Friday night that will certainly test their depth on the blue line. The Dallas Stars will be without Alex Goligoski for a month due to a broken thumb, while Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky will be sidelined for a similar length of time due to a busted finger.
Goligoski suffered his injury on Friday night during his return trip to Pittsburgh, against the team that traded him last season in exchange for James Neal and Matt Niskanen, after playing just six minutes during a 3-1 loss. Following the game Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said he expected Goligoski to be out for an extended period of time, while the defenseman's hand was heavily taped.
In 15 games this season Goligoski has scored two goals to go with four assists, and it's a big loss for a Dallas team that allows a significant number of shots on a nightly basis. His 21 minutes per game is the fourth highest average on the team, trailing only Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley and Sheldon Souray.
Meanwhile, the Ducks announced on Saturday that Visnovsky is expected to miss four weeks after he was struck by a puck late in the third period of their 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Visnovsky had a career year for Anaheim last season, leading all NHL defensemen in scoring with 68 points. So far this season he's scored just one goal to go with three assists in 16 games.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle recently told Eric Stephens of the OC Register that he thinks Visnovsky is taking too many chances and needs to let the game come to him. Unfortunately, he's going to have to wait a few weeks before he has a chance to do that.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 5:36 pm
You know it's bad when we're still early in November and the Anaheim Ducks call a closed-doors meeting. It stinks almost as much as the Avalanche calling Thursday's tilt against the Islanders a "must-win game." They did, barely (4-3 in OT).
But desperate times call for desperate measures. And right now, things are getting close to desperate in Orange County. The Ducks are the coldest team in hockey having lost six in a row. In a world without the overtime loser point, Anaheim is 5-10. That is not good.
"You have to eliminate any confusion, any doubt before you can take the next step forward," Carlyle said about the meeting.
"A lot of times coaches are talking and nobody says a word and you go to the ice and say, 'Well, I don't think that's work[ing]," Teemu Selanne offered. "It's important that the players can give their input also about the situation. It was really good. It was really honest conversations. I think it was a huge step forward."
They better get things figured out quickly. With Dallas playing as well as it is and San Jose in the division, the Ducks could dig themselves a hole too tough to get out of. They have the fewest goals scored and the most goals surrendered in the Pacific Division. In 15 games they have 29 goals, that's less than two goals per game.
I can't help but think it's the lack of power of the mustache. Since the month of Movember came around and the Ducks all began growing out their best 'staches, the team hasn't won a game. This is making me rethink my entire stance on the world. Here I was holding the mustache in such high esteem.
Or maybe it could be more rationally explained by figuring out where Lubomir Visnovsky has gone? The defenseman who had 18 goals and 50 assists last season has just four points (1-3=4) in 15 games and is a minus-9. Him finding his game would go a long way in helping the Ducks remove the ugly from their game.
So who do they get to try their presumably new tactics against first? How about the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night? Just the team for a struggling squad to face (the still-not-invented sarcasm font was on there).
But that's not all for the weekend. On Sunday the Ducks welcome the last team they beat, the Minnesota Wild. Of course since that win, these two teams have flipped their fortunes. The Ducks have become the coldest team this side of Columbus while Minnesota has been red hot.
SoCal struggles, Part II: This was supposed to be the season the Los Angeles Kings stepped forward, made a run for the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship. It obviously still could be, the season is only a short way in. But right now they could use a swift kick in the rear to get in gear.
Los Angeles has followed a 5-1-1 start with a 2-5-2 stretch, including a five-game losing streak that has people wondering if the boot isn't being polished up before delivering the kick. After all, the Kings have not scored more than three goals in 13 of their 16 games. For a team that acquired an offensive talent like Mike Richards to go with a solid group already, that's not going to cut it.
So do you put the blame for the struggling stretch on coach Terry Murray? After all, head coaches are always the first scapegoat. I find it hard to blame Murray. He's trying all that he can, mixing and matching the lines to try and create a spark. But as they always say, you can't really fire the players. I mean you can, but it's a lot more difficult.
One of the issues right now is the play of Jonathan Quick. Remember that shutout streak back in October? That's a thing of the past. In his last six starts, Quick has zero wins. He is giving up nearly three goals per game in that stretch.
About the only thing going well right now for L.A. is the play of Drew Doughty. His game has been on point recently with five points in the last three games.
Like their SoCal neighbors in the O.C., the chance to get on the right track will come against the Wild, Saturday night at Staples Center. Oh, Minnesota enters the game having won five of the last six.
What the ....? You know who's not struggling? The first-place Florida Panthers. Yes, you read that right, first-place Panthers.
Dale Tallon threw together a team that everybody anticipated would struggle to jell, but it came together like jell-o. The Panthers have tallied a point in six consecutive games, including back-to-back wins on the road in Toronto and Winnipeg.
If they want to make it seven straight, they will have to get through the Flyers, who are in Sunrise on Sunday.
This is where I'd like to spread a little love on Kris Versteeg, the forward who is on his fourth team in a two-year span -- the one before the Panthers being the Flyers. He has apparently found the right fit and is scoring at a pace of better than a point per game, leading the Cats with 17 points in 15 games. Brian Campbell hasn't been too shabby either with 15 points in 15 games.
The surprises are all around on one of the NHL's biggest surprises this season. Jason Garrison is a sniper from the blue line? Who knew? But he's tied with Nicklas Lidstrom in the NHL lead for goals among defensemen with six. Jose Theodore can still be effective as a No. 1 goalie? Just talk to the folks in the Washington press box to see how hard that is to believe.
There's no telling how long this will last. First place in a division with the Capitals is asking a lot. But with a start like this, they can at least dream of ending that 10-year playoff drought in Florida.
Texas two-step: Want to know if the Dallas Stars are really as good as their 11-3-0 record indicates? Other than the fact that you are what your record says you are, as Bill Parcells would say, the Stars are in the midst of about as tough a three-game road stretch you can conjure up in the NHL.
They already went through the Capitals, handing them their first loss in D.C. this season. Now they have back-to-back games starting Friday in Pittsburgh. The game was viewed as a potential return date for Sidney Crosby, but that's not happening now. However it is still the top two teams in each conference and James Neal vs. the team that traded him.
If that's not enough, Dallas will take the trip to Detroit where the Red Wings await on Saturday.
I'm not sure how many more tests the Stars have to pass before this start and this team is believed to be for real by the masses. It might be already. I know I'm a believer. But just to be safe, a few more points in this weekend double-dip couldn't hurt.
The Bruins got their groove back: It only took a month, but now the Boston Bruins are showing the form the hockey world expected. After all, ask Boston fans and they will tell you last season was just a whole heaping of bonus -- this was the season when they were expected to be legitimate Cup contenders.
The team that in the early going couldn't score now can't stop scoring. Especially in bunches. Five times in the month of November the Bruins scored two goals within 49 seconds of one another. Five times!
Without a doubt, the most impressive player has been Tyler Seguin. The sophomore is showing why there was such a debate between himself and Taylor Hall before the 2010 draft. He is so quick and always seem to get his stick on the puck near the net.
The above items considered, it should come then as no surprise that the Bruins have won four games in a row and are streaking into their game against Northeast Division foe Buffalo.
The question there is which Sabres goalie will be entrusted with slowing down this now potent Bruins attack? That’s the question every day now in Buffalo where at the moment -- and I stress at the moment -- the goaltending job is a 50/50 proposition between Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth. If Miller gets the call, it could be a tough situation to find a slump-busting performance.
The Tampa Bay defense, specifically the 1-3-1 trap that coach Guy Boucher loves to use, is the topic of the week in the NHL. The crux of the issue: people want to see more scoring, less stalling.
With Ken Hitchcock now on the St. Louis bench and his preference to play a defensive-minded game, it could be a pretty slow and plodding game. Nothing as bad as the scene on Wednesday night, but still not offense friendly. In the two games under Hitchcock, the Blues have given up two goals.
Of course after all this you can now expect for the teams to hit the over.
Photo: US Presswire
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Bobby Ryan, Boston Bruins, Brian Campbell, Brian Stubits, Buffalo Sabres, Corey Perry, Dale Tallon, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Drew Doughty, Florida Panthers, Guy Boucher, James Neal, Jason Garrison, Jhonas Enroth, Jonathan Quick, Jose Theodore, Justin Williams, Ken Hitchcock, Kris Versteeg, Los Angeles Kings, Lubomiv Visnovsky, Mike Richards, Minnesota Wild, Movember, Nicklas Lidstrom, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Randy Carlyle, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Miller, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Teemu Selanne, Terry Murray, Tyler Seguin, Vancouver Canucks, Weekend Preview
Posted on: November 2, 2011 1:02 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 7:53 pm
WASHINGTON -- This was going to be a story about the ageless wonder that is Teemu Selanne when the game was 4-2. If you had to name the best player on the ice in D.C. on Tuesday night, it would be the 41-year-old Finn. He had two goals. He assisted on Anaheim's other two. Simply put, he is still sensational.
After his four-point game, he now has 14 points in 12 games. Again, he is 41. I was getting my "Teemu Selanne is so awesome ..." jokes warmed up. Seriously, we haven't seen this type of production from somebody over 40 since Gordie Howe.
But then his team lost its lead and, well, it sort of changed the feeling in the room. (Good thing, my jokes sucked anyway.)
It was a game the Ducks had in their grasp. It was right there for the taking, all they had to do was hold off Washington's third line from scoring in the final minute. Instead they ended up losing 5-4 in OT, their sixth loss in seven outings.
"We began to self-destruct," coach Randy Carlyle said after the game.
That's just how things are going for the Ducks right now. They finally get some offensive production but the defense doesn't hold up its end of the bargain.
"We just seem to find a way to lose right now," goaltender Jonas Hiller said after the game. "We definitely have to forget about it and concentrate on the good things and I know everybody can play better. I have to start first with myself."
After Tuesday night, that was certainly a fair starting point. This was the second time in his last five starts that Hiller gave up five goals. The time, against Phoenix on Oct. 23, he was pulled.
"He's paid to stop the puck," an angry Carlyle said. "Simple as that."
The play in particular that was most egregious -- or most telling of Anaheim's recent "luck" -- came in the second period with the Ducks up 3-1. In what looked like a breakaway for the offense turned into a push from Caps goalie Tomas Vokoun the length of the ice, stopping just behind the goal line next to his crease. A few seconds later, Dennis Wideman was firing a laser shot into the net.
"What I think what happened was he was indecisive to go," Carlyle said. "I thought he should have played the puck above the goal line, get out of the net and just stop it."
"I thought when our guys were coming back ... I thought one of our guys was coming back because it was an icing," Hiller explained. "I thought 'well, we'll take that icing call' and then I was surprised nobody was there. But that's what I'm saying. Being in the wrong position at the wrong time."
So that was the problem on Tuesday night, goaltending. But it hid one other problem, the lack of offense. Let me explain.
Here are some numbers from the game that really drew my attention: 6-5-4. No, those weren't the daily pick-em lotto numbers, those were the number of shots per period by the Ducks. Add a bagel for the two-plus minutes of overtime and you have 15 shots in 62 minutes.
Entering Tuesday's game, the Ducks were tied with the Islanders for the lowest goals per game at 2.00. Through 12 games now, the Ducks are the third-lowest in the league with 24.8 shots per game. Only three times have they outshot their opponent. On Tuesday, Washington outshot them 40-15. None of those are recipes to winning.
Look at the production from this team, Tuesday included. As a whole, the Ducks have 25 goals on the season. Exactly one of those have come from a forward not on the top two lines on Tuesday; that was Maxime Macenauer's tally. Every other goal has come from a top-six forward of defenseman.
Obviously the top two lines are supposed to do the bulk of the scoring, but there needs to be balance in there.
Andrew Cogliano was just moved off the center position to the wing and bumped up to join Selanne and Saku Koivu on the second line. It looked like a perfect fit, it was clearly Anaheim's best group of forwards on Tuesday. They also have a pretty darn good top line in Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf.
"We were playing our game for the first half of the game and we were up 3-0," Perry said when I asked if they were creating enough offense. "We were scoring on our chances. It says a lot right there. When we're skating and moving the puck -- chipping it in, chipping it out, no turnovers -- it's effective.
"We got to look at what we're doing right and take the positives out of the game. A little down right now, but if we bounce back and play the way we did in the first half of the game, we'll be OK."
"All you can do is work harder and battle a little more," Hiller added. "At some point those bounces will go your way but it seems like we aren't trying. Everything seems to bounce against us and that's definitely tough but you can't blame whoever, whatever for that. At the end it's us who are playing out there and it's up to us to work harder to get those bounces.
Maybe they can just double Selanne's shifts?
"He's done his part and he continues to," Carlyle said of the ageless wonder. "Other people have got to step up. Simple situation is we can't accept that from this group."
OK, here is one of those bad Selanne jokes: Teemu Selanne is so awesome, that he made a metal wall cry. (Or maybe that was just from the water bottle he threw at the wall after the game. But I'll choose to believe he made that wall cry. I told you they were bad. Sigh.)
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 9:50 am
By: Adam Gretz
BETTMAN ON Oilers ARENA Gary Bettman has invited Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and Oilers owner Daryl Katz to his New York office to discuss the ongoing talks for a new building, mainly because he's a bit concerned with the progress, especially with an Oct. 31 deadline on land purchase. Said Bettman, via the Edmonton Journal, "I invited them in because I'm concerned that the framework for a deal hasn't been agreed upon and isn't there yet. Since time is now of the essence, I want to see if I can be helpful in getting the parties to speak the same language."
Panthers GET INSPIRATION FROM 12-YEAR-OLD CANCER SURVIVOR C.J. George, a 12-year-old that is currently in full remission from Lymphoma Blood Cancer, gave the Florida Panthers a pep talk following their Thursday practice. Said George, from Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel: "I told them to keep their eye on the goal and even if they get frustrated and don't want to go to practice like I didn't want to go to another doctor's appointment you have to push through."
CARLYLE DOESN'T MIND PERRY FIGHTING Most coaches don't want to see their top goal-scorers dropping the gloves. Carolina Panthers coach Paul Maurice, for example, said Jeff Skinner's preseason bout was the last one he wanted to see this year. Randy Carlyle, head coach of the Anaheim Ducks, on the other hand has no issue with Corey Perry, the NHL's leading goal-scorer last season, taking part in the rough stuff after his minor confrontation with New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky. Said Carlyle: “I see nothing wrong with two guys at the same level if they chose to drop the gloves.When there’s a mismatch as far as the level of player…Dubinsky’s a pretty good player, and so is Corey Perry. If it’s a different level of player fighting a more skilled player then I look at it differently.”
THE STANLEY CUP MADE A VISIT TO THE PATRIOTS GAME Finally, several members of the Boston Bruins -- as well as the Stanley Cup -- made a visit to Sunday's Patriots-Jets game, which the Patriots won 30-21. Gregory Campbell, Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid didn't seem to have the best seats.
Photo: Bruins Twitter
Posted on: August 9, 2011 10:33 am
MOTIVATING MEMORY: You might remember the story of Mandi Schwartz, the Yale women's hockey player who became an inspiration to many in her fight against leukemia before eventually succumbing to the disease four months ago. Her brother Jaden is one of the Blues' top prospects and he is dedicating his season to his late sister, saying she is the biggest inspiration as he tries to make the Team Canada roster for the World Juniors. "From here on out, this tournament, this camp -- everything is for [my sister]," Schwartz told NHL.com following the opening day of Canada's development camp. "While I'm obviously trying to do this for me, my family and for Canada; most of all, it's for her."
STILL GROUNDED: Chris Pronger continues to move along in his rehabilitation efforts, trying to get back in playing shape to join the Flyers this season. In an interview with Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post, Pronger talked about his continued efforts to get back on the ice, but the snag at the moment is that he hasn't lifted weights in six months and strength is sort of important for a hockey player, especially a physical presence on the blue line. Back problems usually slow that process down. Pronger also has some thoughts on the offseason overhaul for Philadelphia, liking the move to defense first.
LEBDA STILL IN NASHVILLE: When the Predators acquired Brett Lebda in a one-sided traded with the Maple Leafs that saw the Preds ship Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson away, it seemed clear that it was a salary shedding move by Nashville and Lebda would be on his way to another team after going on waivers. Well that might not happen (via Pro Hockey Talk) as Lebda cleared waivers untouched yesterday. Now the Preds might be stuck with him and his $1.45 million salary that is on a one-way contract. It will be interesting to see if he will stay in the NHL or be stashed in the AHL.
DUCK IN A SHORT ROW: If Randy Carlyle makes it to the end of his new contract, he will have been the head coach of the Ducks for nine seasons. In today's NHL, that might as well be three decades. Eric Stephens of the O.C. Register looks at the long tenure of Carlyle in Anaheim and how rare a stay it is.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: For those that follow Eye on Hockey on Twitter, note a change in the account name. If you followed before, nothing has changed. If you weren't following, why not? Either way, for housecleaning purposes, the new address is @EyeOnHockey.