On January 4th, prior to the Ducks game versus the Sharks, Anaheim GM Bob Murray emerged from the fires of Mordor to announce his intentions for the struggling team. In what now has become a seasonal tradition, Murray - again - threatened to get rid of almost the entire roster because he believes they are not playing up to their full potential. (It should be noted that he always blames the players for their play and not the composition of the team.)
I hate that it comes to this every season, but the one thing I hate more is that it works. When Murray announces his garage sale to the media, something finally clicks for the Ducks and they wake up. Since the decree by Murray, the Ducks have gone 4-1-1. Don't get me wrong, I looove that the team is winning; however, I can't stand the fact that it takes a threat - the same one he makes every year - to get things going. Anyone else think that he should make this threat, say, after the first loss of a new season?
On to the game. By far, this is the best game the Ducks have played the entire season. This is the team I've expected to see since day one. I don't know if it actually is a response to Murray's threat or they've finally gotten the hang of Bruce Boudreau's system. If they can play like this against every team, good or bad, they might have a chance at a miracle run. I'm not going to get my hopes up just yet. These are the Ducks we're talking about.
-- Jonas Hiller absolutely owned the Oilers tonight. This game and the yesterday's versus Calgary we finally saw the Jonas we've been waiting for. One thing I noticed is that he didn't get frazzled when a bunch of guys are crashing the crease, leading to really ugly, Goalie 101 goals. The past two games he was steady and confident. On Ducks Live following the game, he said that as long as he has the support of his defenseman in front of him, he can make the stops. Tonight's win marks the 100th of Hiller's career.
-- Hellooooo RPG! Throughout the season, it's been an up and down contribution from Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Corey Perry. Many times one or two of the guys would have stellar nights while the other(s) would shrink away. Tonight was the first offensively dominant game for RPG. They're getting their chemistry back. That chemistry is so important to Bobby Ryan and his goal scoring. He's on a scoring streak right now and will continue to rely on Perry and Getzlaf to keep it going. The Ducks had a total of 15 points from 10 different players. Of those 15 points, Getzlaf had 4, Perry with 2, and Bobby with 1.
-- Francois Beauchemin is a beast. His hits (4 tonight) are not only nasty but legal. He was the best defenseman on the ice. He was even classy enough to not beat the shit out of Sam Gagner when Gagner threw down the gloves. Eric Stephens speculated on Twitter about how Murray will handle Beauch this time around. His contract is up after this season. After a rocky start, he's proven to be an anchor for the defense.
-- The power play went 2 for 2 tonight. It may not be a huge accomplishment considering the state of the Oilers defense, but it's a jump start to a recently stagnant PP. The penalty kill went 3 for 3, as well.
-- I don't know what to say about the second line (Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Niklas Hagman) except that they're awesome. Three of the oldest guys on the team are showing the kids how it's done. They set the bar that RPG should live up to.
-- Is it just me or does anyone else feel like Toni Lydman is severely regressing? He's paired with Sheldon Brookbank, and when Sheldon looks like the better defenseman, you know something has to be wrong.
-- 10 of 18 Ducks had 1 or more giveaways tonight for a total of 18. In many of those instances, Hiller saved their tail feathers.
-- Faceoffs! Koivu was the only one that was above 50% at 57%. The other two main centers, Getzlaf and Andrew Cogliano, were abysmal with 18% and 33% respectively. I don't know how to take a faceoff but I'm pretty sure I could do better than 18% (against a small child).