Jonas Hiller has been one of the biggest reasons the Ducks are surging in the second-half. In several games, the Anaheim netminder has played well enough to earn the shutout, but things just haven't panned out that way. Tonight, however, Hiller stonewalled the Panthers all night, and the Ducks provided just enough offense to secure two more points on their current road trip.
The Ducks have now picked up points in their last nine games and currently sit five points (Ed. Note: Robby misspoke in his Gameday post) out of a playoff spot. Tonight's contest wasn't necessarily the prettiest, but at the end of the day, the Ducks kept the ball rolling and continued their march toward the eighth spot in the Western Conference.Good
- After looking somewhat ineffective for the past few games, the second line was easily Anaheim's best tonight. They generated several scoring opportunities and accounted for the Ducks' only 5-on-5 goal when Teemu Selanne slid home a rebound from a shot by Bobby Ryan. Saku Koivu nearly recorded a goal on a similar player earlier in the first period, but it took a miracle stick save by Jose Theodore to deflect Koivu's shot to the post and keep it out of the net.
- The PK continued to play well, surviving a four-minute Florida PP that resulted from an inadvertent Lubomir Visnovsky high stick. The PK was dangerous short-handed, generating several strong rushes up ice that disrupted the Panthers' effort with the man advantage.
- The third line continues to impress. They played hard all game and created some scoring chances of their own. If, IF, the Ducks make the playoffs (Ed. Note: knock on good-magumbo-infused wood-- wood from Giguere's 2003 paddle), I think the third line could be a secret weapon of sorts for us. They don't always show up on the scoresheet, but they have a good habit of starting fire drills and creating general chaos while they're in the offensive zone.
- Niklas Hagman had a hell of a game. After missing some time in the first period on a hard shoulder-to-shoulder check, Hagman worked his tail off and was eventually rewarded with some top-line time late in the game. He was on the ice as the Ducks were fighting to hold onto their 1-0 lead and chipped a loose puck into an empty Panthers net to ice the game with 15 seconds left.
- What was up with that camera angle tonight? If you watched the Prime Ticket broadcast, the camera seemed that it was about 10 rows off the ice, which made for a very flat viewing angle. One of the problems with watching hockey on TV is that it's difficult to pick up plays away from the puck on the ice. Tonight's camera angle magnified this problem considerably.
- The PP continues to struggle. The Ducks only had two PP opportunities tonight, and they did record some PP SOG, but the inability of the Ducks to claim the advantage when they have it is making these games unnecessarily close.
- The Ducks really seemed to lose their steam midway through the second period. I know it's been a long road trip, and they did survive, but the Ducks have to find a way to remain defensively resolute, even when they don't have any energy left. Hiller's stellar play certainly helped to mitigate this to a degree, but it could have been worse.
- I now officially hate red metal. I swear, we must lead the league in shots off the post or crossbar. I think we hit two key posts tonight, although in fairness to Koivu, Theodore made a crazy play to deny him the goal on that sequence. Regardless, much like the PP, this team has got to bury its chances when it gets them.