Posts Tagged ‘Viktor Fasth’

Viktor Fasth represents the most serious challenge to Jonas Hiller since he showed management they could shed the salary of former Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe award winner J.S. Giguere.

Now it isn’t just Viktor Fasth that Hiller has to beat out. He also has to create a margin of such significance as to justify the $1.6m  difference in their salaries. The main reason Hiller has to excel is Ducks appear to have another quality backup in Frederick Anderson and a future star in John Gibson.

It’s a fascinating confluence of pressure points heightened by the fact Hillsy is entering his contract year.

Thus far in his NHL career Jonas has met every challenge from the mysterious and little understood vertigo to his 73 game iron man performance in 2011-12.

This year he’s challenged by his health, quality competition on our Ducks depth chart to a very thin market for goaltenders, despite the obvious need of many teams.

It is just as easy to imagine Hiller traded on or before the deadline or leaving as a UFA, as it is to imagining him taking on all comers and having a career year.

It isn’t wise to bet against a guy with such a track record of rising to and thriving on challenges. While this one is daunting, I still would bet against Jonas Hiller.

Just like Hiller proved and a wonky hip proved we could move on from Giggy; it’s up to Fasth, Anderson and Gibson to prove we can move on from Hiller.

This is the brutal part of the business of hockey. You come to appreciate and respect a guy, like most of us did Bobby Ryan, and there comes a time when the best interest of the team is arguably, to move on.

Note: This post was drafted and published after reading this at Pro Hockey Talk. Factual reporting errors aside, I just didn’t think the story gave Hillsy his due. Wasn’t going to link it but google alerts is hyping it.

In another example of the newly discovered organizational depth achieved under GM Bob Murray, our Ducks have announced the promotion of Dwayne Roloson from Norfolk Admirals of the AHL to goaltending consultant with the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL.

Rollie the Goalie as he was known during his 14 year playing career will replace the recently retired Pete Peeters. The pair have a history dating back to the Oilers 2006 Stanley Cup Final appearance. Roloson was the Oilers starting goalie and Peeters his coach.

Roloson joined our Ducks organization on February 13, 2013 where he became familiar with Fredrik Andersen who beat out Sergei Bobkov for the No. 1 job in Norfolk. He doesn’t have a history with either Ducks goalie, Jonas Hiller or Viktor Fasth.

During his playing career Rollie earned a reputation for clutch playoff performances. In addition to back stopping the Oilers to the SCF in 2006, Rollie was credited with carrying the Tampa Bay Lightning to the ECF in 2011. He ended his career with a playoff record of 28-18, 2 shutouts, 2.54 GAA and a .918 SP.

I’ll speculate that Pete Peeters had something to do with choosing Roloson as his successor. This is more respect than our Ducks showed Francois Allaire when he left to join Brian Burke in Toronto.

The noise is coming from fans and Gossip Girl websites so it’s not serious at this point. I get it though. Corey Perry had an off-year and playoff so we should trade Bobby Ryan. Viktor Fasth had abdominal injury so what’s the first thing folks want to do? You got it, trade Bobby Ryan.

The so-called logic here is that we’re fine at forward and need help on the back line. I love declarative statements because there’s just no ambiguity in the shortsightedness. I’m not sure any team in the NHL can afford to lose two top six forwards in the same year.

The other top six forward we’re going to lose is Teemu Selanne. Even if Flash returns he won’t be coming back as a top six, first unit PP, 25 goal scoring near point a per game player. Father time took that Teemu Selanne away from us.

If you’re seriously proposing trading Bobby Ryan you must hope that the promising but still unproven Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri will replace the 55-60 goals that we get from Ryan and Selanne.

Far too often teams make the mistake of weakening an area of perceived strength to improve an area adjudged to be weak. Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi for Ryan Whitney was such a trade. Usually this type of trade only works to the extent you get beat a little differently. The team doesn’t improve overall.

Not only are those pounding TRADE BOBBY RYAN NOW on their keyboards using flawed logic, it’s really dangerous if for whatever reason Etem and/or Palmieri don’t move forward and Teemu shows his age.

Luca Sbisa is a horse of a different color. With Vatanen and possibly Lindholm moving up the depth chart, Luca could easily slip to 7th or lower. No team wants to pay an AHL player $2.175MM.

If we move a top nine forward, the guy most likely to go is Andrew Cogliano. I think that will prove regrettable but Murray will need the cap saving if really does intend to bring Selanne and/or Koivu back.

Via Ducks Audio

Just the facts Ma’am highlights:

Coach said it was very difficult to motivate the team during the slump because of their position in the standings. The idea settled in that they weren’t catching Chicago and had too big a lead on the teams behind them.
Given how quickly they turned it around when the Kings reached striking distance, Gabby might be right.
I don’t think anybody ever knows what causes slumps. You’re sure glad when it’s over though.

Teemu has the night off against Vancouver and may or may not take it. Coach said “some of our high-profile guys will sit out.” Bobby Ryan, who’s dropped some weight with the flu, is expected to go Saturday in the season finale.I don’t know what Vancouver will do but teams tend to give out games off after wining their division.

As to who will be playoff goalie, Coach seemed to indicate that he will go with the hot hand. Hiller is the likely starter but that too is subject to change. Hilly draws the Canucks. Fasth the Coyotes. The rotation would go back to Hiller to start the playoffs.
Worthy of note, Boudreau said that the goalies are very supportive of each other and more importantly, Coach thinks it’s genuine.

Notes: Ducks also have a logjam of players competing for spots on the fourth line. Steckel will center ahead of Matthew Lombardi. Etem, Belleskey, Dvorak and Staubitz battle for the wingman spots.
Luca Sbisa is the odd man out on the blue line.  As he did earlier in the season for Cam Fowler, Bryan Allen is providing a stay@home steadying influence allowing Sami Vatanen to play a little rover D. Don’t look for Vatanen to come out unless he slumps badly.

 

Through 40 games corporate media and the blogosphere have proven beyond all doubt that they just don’t get our Ducks. The best they can do at explaining how these Ducks have produced the third best record in the NHL is to rework clichés like great goaltending, timely or depth scoring, coaching and the ever bland, “finding ways to win games.”

Our Ducks have received great goaltending from the tandem of Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth. Yes,  we get timely scoring from unexpected sources. Bruce Boudreau is a great coach. We don’t though, keep finding new ways to win games.

You win hockey games by scoring more goals than the opposition. There ain’t no other way to win.

Our Ducks aren’t finding new ways to score goals. Virtually every single goal that is scored, other than EN’s of course, is executed by either screening the goaltender and/or forcing the goalie to move or commit prior to the release of the shot. This is true regardless of where the shot, tip or tap is coming from.

So ignore everything you read about our Ducks, “finding new ways to win.” It’s flat-out bull-pucky.

Our Ducks are winning because they are winning the majority of the one on one battles that occur during a hockey game. They’re winning what’s called the game within the game.

Did you read the Drew Doughty comments following the Kings most recent loss to our Ducks. Doughty was whining and bloviating about how the Kings totally out-played us but they just didn’t get rewarded for their efforts. Doughty, poughty.

Our Ducks are winning because they can win any way the opposition want to play the game. Ducks can grind or free wheel with anybody. What they do better than their opponent on a given night, is that they dominate in the one area of the ice where it matters most, from the end zone face off dots to the end boards in each of the defensive and offensive zones.

This is why a Poughty Doughty can fool himself and others into thinking his Kings outplayed our Ducks. The is why many Red Wings fans will go to their graves believing the Wings outplayed our Ducks in the 2007 WCF.

They don’t get it.

If you want to beat these Ducks you have to beat them around the nets and at the moment of truth. In other words if you can’t execute a near perfect play, at both ends of the rink, you aren’t going to outscore these Ducks.

This is true in both low and high scoring games. It’s true if the opposition elects to grind it out or play a high tempo finesse game. These Ducks win 2-1 and 4-3.

These Ducks aren’t finding new ways to win. These Ducks get ‘er done.

Anaheim Ducks were flat but effective in beating the spirited but ineffective Calgary Flames 4-0. Viktor Fasth was outstanding turning aside 29 shots.

Daniel Winnick got things started at 1:15 of the first attacking the low slot and snapping a feed from behind the red line from Andrew Cogliano.  It was Winnick’s sixth goal of the season and first in 18 games.

Our Ducks would then play a passive defense shell for the next 35 minutes. The Flames took territorial control and out shot our guys 10-4 in the first.

Not even a dance invitation from former Duck Bryan McGratton to Brad Staubitz was accepted. It was the smart play by Staubitz. McGratton was only trying to fire up his teammates. By refusing, Staubitz denied them the opportunity, not they needed it.

In a similar play to Winnick’s goal, Ryan Getzlaf raced to a loose puck along  the right mid-boards and whipped it behind the net to Corey Perry. Pears spotted Ryan racing into the left slot shooting lane to complete the tic tac toe score. It was Ryan Getzlaf’s 500 career point, all with our Ducks.

Note: Video links of the first two goals are included to show set plays and also note how both Winnick and Ryan one-timed the pass.

Sheldon Souray put the home squad up by three just 2:12 following the Ryan goal. With Peter Holland providing the screen, Souray blasted a Brad Staubitz pass into the Calgary net.

Ryan Getzlaf put the game out of reach at 16:18 of the third when he took a no look redirect from Bobby Ryan and pushed it behind Kiprusoff.

Coach Boudreau summed it up pretty well, “We sure were outplayed in the first half of the game,” he noted. “Thank goodness for Viktor. Once we scored the second goal, we started to get our legs and started to do the right things, and I think they were frustrated. A win is a win.”

It was the tenth consecutive home win for Anaheim.

In a game of follow the leader the L.A. Kings picked it up a notch after captain Dustin Brown went top shelf on Viktor Fasth to tie the game at two. The Kings would score twice more during a during a nine minute barrage whereupon they simply raised the tempo and physical compete level.

Our Ducks didn’t match. We didn’t get a bounce during the onslaught. We got into penalty trouble. We got caught running around in our end. Kings just flat-out took over and didn’t let up.

Slava Voynov got wide open in the left face off circle when Matt Beleskey made a bad read and chased the puck. Voynov ripped one 5-hole on Fasth that just had enough velocity to get over the goal line.

Kings continued to dominate beating the Ducks to most if not every loose puck. Kings defender Jake Muzzin took a feed from Anze Kopitar, stepped in from the blue line a few feet, showed some mis-direction faking a cross ice pass to Justin Williams and placed a wrist shot that again beat Fasth high glove side.

A week or so ago, either here or Twitter I began questioning Fasth’s soft 5-hole and top shelf exposure. Tonight the Kings showed that they saw it too and exploited it. Now and going forward we’ll begin to learn if Viktor Fasth is real deal or not. Great goalies improve in their weak areas. you can expect Fasth to be tested 5-hole and top shelf during at least the next few games.

This was also a game where our best players were not the best players on the ice last night. We got the secondary or depth scoring from Cogliano and Koivu but nothing from the big four and nothing from blue line. Kings got 3 assists from Anze Kopitar and goals from Brown and Jeff Carter.

In the middle of 5 games in 7 days, Ducks have absolutely no time to dwell on this one. Next up are the Nashville Predators who are struggling of late.

Viktor Fasth is earning converts with every game. Every goalie competes with the guy at the other end of the rink. Last night Fasth was one shootout save better than Pekka Rinne, arguably the best goalie in the world right now.

Fasth is a perfect 8-0, 1.78 GAA and a SP of .933. Good enough to share the league in wins with Montreal’s Carey Price. Good enough for a league 7th best GAA among goalies who have played 4 or more games. His SP is 8th best among goalies who have played 4 or more games.

Obviously he’s become a solid Top Ten goalie in the NHL from the get go. He brings intangibles such as a calm composure and patience. Among the first things all goaltenders are taught is to wait for the shooter to make the first move. This gives him preemptive save ability. He pressures the shooter to go first.

I’ve noticed of late opposing teams are starting to go upstairs consistently on him. This is also true of all great goalies of this generation. It also plays into our Ducks NHL 7th best shot blocking record. It’s much easier for a player to block a high shot than a lower shot.

Last night was all about Fasth and the no-quit effort of the team in front of him.

Notes: Matt Beleskey has been giving Ryan Getzlaf a mid-slot passing target of late and it is paying off. Let’s hope The Twins have finally found a winger. Right now the job is Matty’s to lose, though Gabby is quick with the hook…Peter Holland is looking closer and closer to making the squad as a top six forward. He didn’t look out of place during two games with Ryan and Selanne….Ducks have 9 players with 4 or more goals 13 games into the season. More to come…

 

One marker in a successful season is when a team begins to do things it hasn’t done of late. In other words, successful teams begin exorcise their demons. Until tonight our Ducks hadn’t won a game in Detroit since February 10, 2008. Our Ducks teams have been a woeful 2-25-1 in our last 28 games at the Joe.

As has begun to define these Ducks in this special season it was a come from behind win. Jimmy Howard stood on his ear while stopping 14 Ducks shots in the first twenty minutes of play. The Red Wings responded with six shots. The difference, eight shots, is indicative of the wide territorial advantage our Ducks earned throughout the game. Howard was particularly sharp while robbing Ryan Getzlaf point-blank with a stunning glove save.

Detroit scored first at 3:01 of the second when Joakim Anderson wristed one over Viktor Fasth’s elbow. Our Ducks responded 26 ticks later when Matt Beleskey took a no look behind the back feed from Ryan Getzlaf and blew one past Howard.

Ducks continued to press but Howard stood tall. With Peter Holland in the sin bin for delay of game, Tomas Tatar swung into a juicy rebound that rested six feet out center slot.  Detroit’s second lead would last for 1:05 when a Matt Beleskey rebound deflected off a Detroit player’s broken stick that Corey Perry snagged and tucked in around a sprawling Jimmy Howard. It was Perry’s first goal in regulation or overtime in twelve games.

The second would end locked at 2 all.

The no quit Ducks continued to press in the third and got rewarded for the efforts.  At 1:02 Andrew Cogliano tipped in a slick Saku Koivu for his third goal in three straight games. Forty-eight seconds later Bobby Ryan went to his to paste his own rebound through the Detroit netminder.

Ducks then went to work on the clock. They frustrated Detroit by getting to and controlling loose pucks, intercepting first pass after first pass forcing the Red Wings to play deep in its own end.

Andrew Cogliano put the game out of reach when Ryan Getzlaf forced a neutral zone turnover and Corey Perry pushed the puck to Cogs who turned on the jets creating space between himself and Wings defender Niklas Kronwall before scoring into the open net.

The game might have been a laffer if not for the heroic play of Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

Our Ducks take their 4-1 road trip record into Nashville for the final game of Anaheim’s longest away stretch of the season.

Famed and accomplished NFL coach Bill Parcells said, “You are what your record says you are.” By that measure our 9-2-1 Anaheim Ducks are a pretty good hockey team. By every other measurable statistic our Ducks are a very good hockey club.

Ducks are second in the Western Conference trailing the team they beat last night by just two points. They’re first in the Pacific Division. Their 19 points of a possible 24 points available has them third in P% at a scintillating .792 rate. They’re scoring at the rate of 3.25 goals per game likewise places them third overall in the NHL. These Ducks are either best or second best in even strength situations. Our Ducks sport the seventh most efficient PP and next to last PK.

From my perspective Goal Differential is the single most significant measure of a hockey team, aside from total points of course. By this standard our +9 Ducks are tied for fifth overall. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that our Ducks are also fifth in most Power Rankings this week.

While the record is indeed a great one, the numbers don’t tell us how they’ve done it and why we watch. It’s really quite a story.

He might be a late bloomer as a GM. Maybe these Ducks prove the rule, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.” Regardless, Bob Murray has earned credit in more than just a couple of areas. This entire report reflects well on him as a late bloomer or as the metaphorical blind squirrel.
Following the trade of Chris Pronger and retirement of Scott Niedermayer our blue line was in shambles. It’s taken four seasons, perhaps not surprisingly to re-assemble an elite level blue line but our Bob has done it. He also put back the size and snarl into a lineup that just couldn’t match-up physically in recent seasons.
As important, our Ducks have three scoring lines again. Our Ducks are deep and the most complete hockey team since the Stanley Cup edition. Through signing UFA’s, excellent drafts and trades that are beginning to pay off three seasons after they were made, Bob Murray has assembled an NHL elite level hockey team.

By late November of 2011 the once feared Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks had hit rock bottom. Like a drunk experiencing his first day of sobriety, the change from Randy Carlyle to Bruce Boudreau breathed new life into the team. It took a few weeks but as the team bought in they went on a rip that brought them within four points of the playoffs. Just as suddenly and perhaps not coincidentally, the streak ended the day our Ducks moved past the trade deadline.
This shortened season our Ducks are experiencing their first full with an asterisk year under the new coach. System wise, our Ducks do nothing different from what hockey players have known their entire lives. System wise, our Ducks now play support the puck hockey, up and back. This system places a third man high in the offensive zone and brings a third man back to support the D. And yes, we trap in the neutral zone.
Another primary difference between  Coach Carlyle and Coach Boudreau is how each marshals his assets. Randy Carlyle relied upon his best players. Bruce Boudreau gives his depth players more time on the ice. As we’ve witnessed particularly in the past two games, Gabby will shorten his bench as he deems necessary in the third period.
BB is not so committed to tradition that he won’t show some creativity. For example, he surprised this observer by going back to No. 1 goalie Jonas Hiller after new guy on the block, Viktor Fasth earned a shutout. His forward lines are based on twosomes, Getzlaf/Perry, Ryan/Selanne, Koivu/Winnick and Bonino/Beleskey. He’ll move around his third forward based on instinct.
Last night Josh Brewster of Ducks Calls reported Coach referred to Daniel Winnick as his Brooks Laich. The go to player he can send over the boards in any situation.
In a move designed to spread out the scoring, and opposition defenses, he moved perennial 30+ goal scorer off the top line. Additionally, Coach has used Ryan to anchor the 2nd PP unit and has given it more TOI.
On the back-end Gabby has found a No. 1 pairing in new addition Sheldon Souray alongside Francois Beauchemein. This is the most hard-nosed pairing since hey day of Pronger-O’Donnell. New addition Bryan Allen will eventually be paired with the injured Cam Fowler. Toni Lydman and Luca Sbisa round the D pairings.
Not insignificantly our Ducks feature great depth along the blue line. They can call up future star Sami Vatanen or go with experienced hands of Ben Lovejoy, Nate Guenin or Jordan Hendry. Hampus Lindholm figures to get a look-see at the NHL level soon after he becomes available.

On the ice, where the games are won and lost, our Ducks are showing they have all the tangibles and intangibles necessary to compete  with the NHL’s best.
Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have provided winning if not always great goaltending statistically speaking.
The hard-nosed guys, Staubitz, Allen, Souray, Beauchemin and Winnick are sticking up for our skill players. Allen and Souray are doing the job expected of them in the low slot in front of our goalies.
Knowing someone has their backs, the remarkable composure of Viktor Fasth and how Coach is marshaling his assets is having a positive effect on the team overall. These Ducks aren’t quitting and giving up on themselves or giving in to a natural instinct for retaliation, for the most part. The second Vancouver and the Dallas games as the exceptions that prove this rule.
Whether it’s the league’s 29th worst PK limiting the league’s top ranked team to just one shot in nearly 4 minutes of a 4 on 3 or the timely scoring provided by Daniel Winnick and the kids, these Ducks just find ways to win.
Incredibly our Ducks are doing it while their most heralded player, Corey Perry is in a slump and their best puck moving D-man is out on IR.

This isn’t to say that the wheels can’t come off. Anything from a player stepping out with the wife or significant other of another player to injuries can destroy a good or great hockey team.

What we can say is that our Ducks have met every challenge in their way so far this season. As one great coach said, “They are their record.”

Note: Ducks have sent forward Rickard Rakell back to the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. The moves leaves the full 3 seasons remaining on the player’s EL contract. Because no immediate announcement as to Rakell’s replacement is made, expect the Ryan to center experiment to continue with Koivu and Bonino moving up the depth chart if and when Coach elects to shorten his bench in the third period of close games.