The reigning MVP shined during the Breakaway Challenge during Saturday's Skills Competition at Scotiabank Place. He led off his first of two attempts with a lacrosse move where he carried the puck on his blade before losing it at the last moment and backhanding it past goalie Brian Elliott. On his third try, he revealed something even more creative -- and downright funny.
Just as it looked like he was going to skate in on net, Perry stopped, threw away both gloves and his stick, and pulled a mini stick out of his gear. He then bent way low to move in on Elliott, hilariously deking right and left before Elliott graciously bailed out of net as Perry sent it through from his knees.
Here's the video of both moves:
Unfortunately, Perry was beat out by Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, who boldly donned a Superman cape and Clark Kent glasses (although everyone knows you don't wear those at the same time). Kane then slid headfirst on his belly before tapping the puck past a playing-along Elliott (here's that video). Kane ended up winning with 47 percent of the fan votes.
Yesterday, Perry's goal in the third period was one of three quick ones in the third that helped Team Chara to a 12-9 victory in a typically laid-back, high-scoring All-Star Game.
Check out all the photos of Perry from the weekend here.
Also during the packed weekend for Corey, he managed Friday to meet up with some family and friends at a relative's house not too far from Scotiabank Place. You can read about that in Eric Stephens' nice piece in the OC Register, which includes this from Corey's dad Geoff.
"To the guys around, he's just Corey Perry," he said. "He's just one of the boys. Yeah, he's won a Hart Trophy but we don't dwell on it. He won that back in June and that was for last year. That's the way he goes about things. Just takes them in stride and goes forward."Corey just wants to be Corey. He doesn't want any special treatment. The Corey Perry that left here to go play junior hockey is the same person."
As far as getting back to regular Ducks hockey, the team is headed to Phoenix, where they play the Coyotes tomorrow night.
|Perry reportedly created those lights with his mind.
Like last year, the draft will divide the 38 All-Stars and 12 rookies into two teams for the game on Sunday. Team Alfredsson is led by captain Daniel Alfredsson of the All-Star host Senators and assistant captain Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers. Team Chara is led by captain Zdeno Chara of the Bruins and assistant captain Joffrey Lupul of the Leafs.
In last year's draft, Perry was taken in the 15th of the 18 rounds by Team Staal. But coming off a Hart Trophy season in 2010-11 and the fact that good buddy and former teammate Lupul is helping with the selecting for Team Chara, you can bet he'll go higher this year.
From the NHL: The teams will compete in the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition™, at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m., ET, and the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL® All-Star Game, at Scotiabank Place on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 4 p.m., ET. Live television coverage of both events will be provided by NBC Sports Network in the United States.
A coin toss will decide first pick, with Alfredsson and Chara, joined by their assistant captains, alternately drafting the 38 remaining All-Stars through 19 rounds. Each team will consist of three goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards. To ensure that the final draft picks are true selections and not simply predetermined due to position requirements, each team's three goalies must be picked by the end of Round 10 and each team's six defensemen must be picked by the conclusion of Round 15.
The 12 Rookies participating in the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition will be divided by the National Hockey League into two groups of six. At the completion of the 15th round of the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft, one NHL Rookie will be selected to choose which All-Star team his group will join for the skills competition.
|"Moneyball? Are you kidding me?? You obviously haven't seen The Descendants."
A somewhat fluky goal by the Stars and an incredibly stingy goalie overtook sixty minutes of dilligence by the Ducks in a gut-wrenching 1-0 loss to Dallas that snapped a five-game winning streak for Anaheim. Jonas Hiller only had to make 15 stops as the Ducks left little space on the ice in front of him, but one Dallas shot got by him in ugh fashion. Late in the first, Alex Goligoski's one-timer was headed way wide of the net, but it deflected off Cam Fowler's hip and skipped past Hiller.
"What are you going to do?" Fowler told the OC Register. "Blocked a shot right off my pants and over Hillsy's shoulder. You just shake you head and ask why sometimes. Why do those things happen? It's a part of the game."
That was the only puck that found the net all night, as Kari Lehtonen was a wall with 27 saves and his first shutout of the season. But not all the credit goes to the one Finn Ducks fans weren't rooting for last night. The Stars did their best Ducks impression by blocking 27 shots, and a number of Anaheim chances were launched wide of the cage. But the Ducks went down scratching a clawing for a goal until the final horn, including the final moments when they sent Hiller to the bench for a sixth dude in the Dallas zone.
"You don't like to end something like we've got going on a situation like that," Bruce Boudreau said. "You could tell early on that Lehtonen was really on his game and it was going to take something special. Again, we had open nets and we missed the net. We get those chances and we put them in, no matter how good the goalie is, we're going to probably win the game. Didn't happen that way."
It didn't, and it's a rough way to go into the break, when any momentum Anaheim might have had will be hopefully not be slowed by the week between now and their next game -- Tuesday night in Phoenix. That game, followed by a rematch with Dallas the next day at Honda Center are going to prove vital for the Ducks, who fell back to 12 points out of a playoff spot last night.
For now, the only Ducks hockey we'll be seeing over the next several days is Corey Perry in the All-Star Game on Sunday. Tomorrow night at 5 p.m. Pacific, we can see who Perry will be playing with as the NHL is bringing back the popular Fantasy Draft format for the game.
Add this to the You've Got to Love Bruce Boudreau file:
Boudreau was talking to reporters yesterday morning about the surprise bowling outing he set up for the team after the Ducks arrived in Dallas on Monday. Apparently, the bowling took a lot out of the Ducks coach.
“I’m out of shape,” he said. ”When you’re sore after bowling, something’s wrong. I was in the high 200s of course." (He later admitted that he rolled a 138 and 110 and that Francois Beauchemin had the high score with 202. The Finns won the team competition.)
"I woke up at midnight and I thought I needed a hip replacement and I couldn’t understand what was going on. [Assistant coach] Bob [Woods] says, ‘You bowl left-handed. It’s your right hip, right” I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Well, you idiot, it’s sore because you’re doing lunges every time you come down.”
- - -
In case you haven't gotten enough Casino Night coverage, below is a video feature from KDOC, which I'm including partly because the host is rather striking (and British, no less).
Also, just when you think the Ducks have run out of things to autograph and offer the fans, you can now bid on the Vans the players wore with their all-white suits during the night by clicking here.
|More of this tonight, please.
“You and I know where we are,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “Every game is important. It’s important to finish strong before the break and come out of the gate the way you want to. It’s a big emphasis on Tuesday’s game and get ready for the break.”
We've said it before in this space, but it's fun to repeat: The Ducks are riding a wave in which they've won five in a row and eight of their last nine. And a team that once had gone through a terrible time on the road has put together a nice little run of three wins in the last four away games. The only outlier was a 1-0 overtime loss in Calgary, in which Anaheim still managed a point.
That string will be on the line tonight in Dallas, where it's Steve Ott Bobblehead Night (I've got to get me one of those). The Stars are in a little bit of a tailspin, having lost five in a row to fall to 11th in the Western Conference (the Ducks are seven points behind them in 13th). And to add injury to insult, top scorer Jamie Benn has been out since January 15 after undergoing an appendectomy, and captain Brendan Morrow was played on IR with a neck issue. Mike Ribeiro, who has been a bit of a nuisance for the Ducks in the past, will be in there tonight after missing seven games with a knee injury. Ribeiro, by the way, scored two goals apiece in the two games before going down with the injury.
Toni Lydman, who missed Sunday's win over Colorado with the flu, will be back in there tonight. Here's the expected lineup:
The Ducks know full well that despite the progress they've made this month, there is still a heck of a way to go before they truly get back into contention.
“Our goal going into this was to win out before the All-Star break,” Bobby Ryan said. “We talked about it. That was something we were setting our sights on. So to be three-quarters of the way there with one game left is an important feeling.
“I think we’re starting to narrowly push at it. We’ve got a tough task ahead of us. Every two points going forward is going to be monumental.”
Bruce Boudreau, in a quite enjoyable interview on Ducks Weekly on SiriusXM, said of his team, "They're starting to believe in themselves. It's good to see them coming to the rink smiling every day. We've still got a huge mountain to climb. We know it's a long shot, but if you just keep winning…eventually you can look up. We've won a lot recently, we just want to continue it."
Boudreau also had some pretty satisfying things to say about how Ducks players tend to get overshadowed, notably Jonas Hiller not getting recognized by the NHL for his play of the last week. "Just being out here for a short period of time and being in Washington for four years, it's easy to see that the Eastern teams get a definite advantage when it comes to publicity. Anaheim is not exactly in the limelight, so you sort of overlook guys who have done really well."
Whether he's getting the recognition league-wide or not, Ducks fans know how huge Hiller has been. He sets up between the pipes tonight having posted a .955 save percentage and 1.33 goals-against average the last six games. He hasn't lost in 2012, a year that has been friendly to the Ducks, and will hopefully get even friendlier tonight.
You may have already noticed it on our news stories on the website, but now fan commenting has been added to this blog, as you can see below. You may recall it was tested previously through Facebook, but it caused some technical difficulties. Now you can make comments by signing in with your Facebook account, Twitter account, NHL.com account or a number of other methods.
(If you're not seeing it below, click the headline of this blog post above and you'll see it.)
I encourage you to leave your comments about the blog, the Ducks or whatever. Let me hear ya!
|"I'm sure a little club soda will get that right out."
Since then it's been a whole new Ducks team, one that is on a ride they don't want to get off anytime soon. Anaheim has gone a staggering 8-0-1 run that has been as good as any team in the NHL. Coming off a fifth straight win last night against Colorado, the Ducks flew to Dallas just 11 points behind the Avalanche, with three games in hand. The Ducks have won seven of the last eight and six straight at home.
Anaheim's 17 points in January is tied for most in the NHL with St. Louis and Ottawa (who the Ducks took down Saturday night). Meanwhile, the team that once ranked near the bottom of the NHL in goals, has averaged an impressive 2.70 this month, second in the league to Boston.
Their standings points streak of nine games equals the longest active one in the NHL (with the Blues) and is the franchise's longest since a nine-game run from Oct. 21 to Nov. 5, 2008. The Ducks have outscored opponents 36-16 during that string.
The wins lately have come in a variety of ways. There was a 5-0 stomping of the Oilers back on January 13, and a 6-2 rout of the Coyotes on the 18th. And then there was this weekend, where the Ducks eked out one-goal victories and leaned heavily on Jonas Hiller, who is as hot as any goalie in the NHL right now with a .955 save percentage and 1.33 goals-against average the last six games. (He actually wasn't given one of the NHL's Three Stars of the Week today.)
Last night was the extreme, as the Ducks were outshot 45-18 and Hiller stood tall with 43 saves as the Ducks got some revenge on their old goalie, J.S. Giguere.
The Ducks' intimate knowledge of Giguere seemed to come in handy when Bobby Ryan scored two (two!) breakaway goals on him to help the Ducks to a 3-0 lead. The first came early in the game, when Ryan picked up a lost puck near the red line, skated in and fired it under Giguere to make it 1-0. The other one came in the second period, as Ryan Getzlaf made a jaw-dropping 150-foot pass out of his own corner to hit Ryan's tape at the Colorado blue line, allowing Ryan to head in alone and beat Giguere high glove.
Ryan actually had a third breakaway in the third period, but this time Giguere came out far enough to force Ryan to move to the forehand, and Giguere stopped it.
"I don't think I've had three breakaways in a season in a long time," Ryan said. "I'm not exactly built for speed on breakaways.
"I scored five-hole on the first one. I think he was just kind of waiting. He realizes that's one of my favorite places to shoot, so I just tried to make a quick move and get it out because I know he drops his glove. I tried to be patient with it."
Colorado scored soon after Ryan was denied on that third breakaway, and scored again on a power play with 3:32 left to make things a bit tense. But the Ducks held on, notably in the final minute and a half when the Avs sent Giguere to the bench for an extra skater.
Bruce Boudreau, he of the frequent non-hockey references, used a boxing term to reflect on how the Ducks escaped. "We were doing our best imitation of Muhammad Ali tonight," he said. In other words, it was a "rope-a-dope" style in which the Ducks allowed themselves to be hit over and over again (45 shots) but waited for mistakes and took advantage.
This month, unlike the previous three, it seems the mistakes are coming from the opponents, rather than the Ducks themselves.
"Anyone who's been here has known that we've started slow in a lot of years and this is the worst," Getzlaf said. "But we've just got to keep playing. Every day is a new day for us and a new day that we can play and try and get back in this thing."
How upbeat are the Ducks these days? First of all, they're spending their day in Dallas not practicing, but having a team bowling outing, for while George Parros reportedly brought his own ball.
And last night, Getzlaf made his postgame remarks while holding his 11-month-old son Ryder (wearing a No. 15 jersey with the C on it) in his left arm. Watch this video as he tries to hand Ryder off to Ducks staffer Ryan Lichtenfels (who actually has a toddler of his own), sees that he's crying and then takes him back for the duration of the interview. While Getzlaf says, "It wasn't the prettiest game we played in awhile," you can tell Ryder agrees.
|This photo seemed fitting since the Ducks play both Ottawa and Giguere this weekend.
Saturday is a rare afternoon (1:05 p.m.) affair with the Ottawa Senators, whom the Ducks vanquished in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. Of course, the Sens have only four players remaining from that team, while the Ducks have five: Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne, Parros and Beauchemin (the latter of whom just signed a new deal).
Sunday the Ducks once again face the goalie from that 2006-07 team, as J.S. Giguere and the Colorado Avalanche return to Honda Center, with Anaheim looking to avenge a 4-2 loss to them on New Year's Eve. (Giguere has played three of the last four for the Avs, and figures to be back in there again on Sunday against his old team.)
The Ducks are an impressive 6-1-1 since that Colorado loss, a mark they'll be testing against an unbelievably hot Ottawa team tomorrow afternoon. The Sens' thorough 4-1 victory in San Jose last night (which came despite losing two forwards mid-game) improved them to a gaudy 13-2-2 since the middle of December. That's pushed them to fourth in the Eastern Conference, and they're riding an 11-game road points streak.
Today, Bruce Boudreau had an interesting take about the young Senators, who are considered among the surprise teams in the NHL after finishing 13th in the East last year.
"They're only a surprise because of where they finished last year," he said, noting that they have several players from the Binghamton Senators team that won the AHL's Calder Cup last year. "If you look at any team that has won a Calder Cup, there are five to seven players on that team that are good players that are going to play in the NHL. That's what's happened there.
"They are young players who were in Binghamton and were brought up last year at the trading deadline when Ottawa realized they weren't gonna make [the playoffs]. They played great last year and it kept going this year. It's not a surprise to me that they're doing what they're doing."
The Ducks held Jason Blake and Matt Beleskey out of practice for the second straight day, as Blake recovers from the lower body injury suffered when he was hit with a Lubomir Visnovsky shot that resulted in a Beauchemin goal on Wednesday night vs. Phoenix. Boudreau said he has high hopes for Blake playing tomorrow, but Beleskey is not as certain with his injured hand suffered when he was hit by a shot Wednesday. Just in case, the Ducks called up veteran Mark Bell from Syracuse, and he was out on the ice today.
"There wasn't a lot of progress for either one, so with the 1:00 game, we had to call up Mark. Blake was still a little sore, but we believe he's going to play tomorrow. We told him to take another day and get better and see how it is tomorrow morning.
If Bell plays this weekend, it will be the 31-year-old's first game since April of 2008.
Boudreau explained the Bell call-up by saying, "You phone down there and you ask the coaching staff, 'Who's the best player for you right now?' We didn't want someone who is in a development stage, we just want the best player who could help our team this weekend potentially. They said Mark Bell was the best player they had, so we said, Let's call up Mark Bell. He fits the criteria right now."
There is a chance defenseman Sheldon Brookbank could move up to a forward spot if both Blake and Beleskey aren't able to go. Brookbank has played some forward for the Ducks in the past and practiced there yesterday and today.
Tomorrow's game will also be t-shirt tiiiiiiiimmmme (and if you don't know that reference, you're a better person than I am), where all fans in attendance will receive a free orange Ducks t-shirt.
|He seems happy|
"I'm really excited to be here another three years," Beauchemin said. "We have a great group of guys and good young players. We're going to have a good team for awhile. It's just a matter of us keeping playing the way we've been playing lately.
"People don't know this, but it is a lot of stress on the players and their families to not know what's going to happen in the future. When you get those extensions, it just feels great. Everyone is a lot more relaxed at home and we can move on and think about the future."
The 31-year-old Beauchemin is Beauchemin has six goals (including two Wednesday night) and is tied with Cam Fowler for the team lead in defenseman scoring with 18 points. He's also playing a team-high 25:44 a game.
"He’s playing great," Boudreau said today. "From the first day I got here. He’s a great character guy, can log a lot of minutes, can play different roles for you at any time, big heart. What team can’t use a player like that? To lock him in for the time that Bob [Murray] did, I thought he did a great job. It’s good for Beauch as well."
Said Murray to the OC Register, "“He’s never going to cheat you. He’s an honest, hard hockey player who shows up to play for you every night. He’s not just going to show up. He’s going to compete. And as with all players, as I well know, some nights you don’t have your ‘A’ game. You have your ‘B’ game. You know Beauch is always going to bring it.”
Last night's 15th annual Anaheim Ducks Casino Night Presented by The Klein Family could have been one of the best of the half dozen or so I've attended. Guests came in their most stylish attire to match the Center Ice White Out theme of the night, which for whatever reason drew the most attractive crowd of any I've seen at that event (I'll decline to elaborate).
A few other highlights from the night:
- Me digging out the too-tight white pants and awful white buckled shoes that I wore for the Casino Night two years ago, when it was a '70s theme. That combined with an untucked white dress shirt made me look like I was in pajamas.
- Arriving at the same time as Teemu Selanne and his wife Sirpa, then watching Teemu lunge for the down button just a half-second too late before the elevator doors closed. I said, "I thought they called you The Flash." He snapped his fingers. The elevator doors opened.
- Watching Jonas Hiller dance impressively to "Baby Got Back" (as well as assorted other songs) with his gal and a few other player WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends).
- This photo (I just think it looks cool). Check out all the photos here.
- Although, sometimes the best photos come before the actual photo. (Courtesy OC Register.)
- The assorted dancers covered in full body suites and surrounded by a giant ... let me just show you the picture.
- George Parros being the only guy to wear something different than the white suit and v-neck t-shirt provided to the players, which you can see in this picture, along with Devante Smith-Pelly artfully incorporating the boot for his broken foot with his ensemble.
- Teemu talking in this video about the night's theme: "We have been too many times cowboys, so it's good." (Taking that quote out of context would confuse a lot of people.)
- Jason Blake, asked in this video about which player looked best, opening with "I probably don't even need to wear a suit. I'm all white." Then saying, "I would proably say Teemu. He's 41 years old and he just glows. Every time he steps in a room, he electrifies. He owns it."
- Just watching the guys pose for every picture, sometimes obliging to be the photographer of said pictures, enthusiastically take part in every conversation with every fan, and just generally be good dudes.
Come back here later today for a preview of a unique upcoming weekend for the Ducks.
|Yeah, 8, we're all smiling a lot more these days.
A 6-2 rout of the Phoenix Coyotes last night at Honda Center gave the Ducks their sixth win in the last seven and a fourth straight win at home. Even better, the emphatic victory over a division rival came on a night when the RPG line registered one point, a night where even their own coach admitted his team was less-than-stellar.
"I thought we were pretty sloppy," said the normally optimistic Bruce Boudreau. "I was biting my tongue most of the night. [Phoenix] missed a lot of chances. We took advantage.
"I thought we were a little loose, but I’m not complaining. We still won over a good hockey club and we scored six goals."
And in a game where usual suspects Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan, Selanne and Koivu were relatively quiet on the scoresheet, Anaheim's unheralded third line of Jason Blake, Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano sparkled. They combined for six points, including Blake's fourth in the last three games. Don't look now, but that trio is a combined plus-11 in the last three games. And how about Blake, who missed 34 games with that horrific arm laceration, but came back to play two weeks ago? The Ducks are 8-1-1 with him in the lineup this season.
Now check this out: Dating back to last season, the Ducks are 15-2-0 in games where Blake scores a goal. (Researched that one myself, and I'm pretty damn proud of it.)
That of course includes last night, where Blake's goal late in the second period was the best display of that third line at work. On the rush, Cogliano made a pinpoint feed through a crowd to Bonino who touched it to Blake on the doorstep for the "slam dunk," as Johnny Ahlers called it on the broadcast. (Just had the image of Blake pulling off an actual slam dunk, and it struck me as a little funny.)
That goal gave the Ducks a two-goal lead, and they never looked back. It also was the second goal in a span of four minutes contributed by that third line. The earlier one came on another beautiful feed from Cogliano to Francois Beauchemin, who had a glorious night with two goals. His first came on an accidental assist by Blake, as a Lubomir Visnovsky rocket kicked off Blake's leg to Beauchemin for the punch-in. (Blake looked to be in pain, but didn't miss a shift, thought he was held out of today's practice.)
Beauchemin also an nice assist on Perry's door-slamming breakaway shorty late in the game. On the play, Beauchemin pitch-forked the puck off the wall to a darting Perry, who was right around the Prime Ticket logo outside the Phoenix blue line when you knew he'd pour it in the net.
That sixth goal -- more than enough to trigger some love from Hooters -- added to the Ducks' recent domination in which they've outscored opponents 31-13 in the last seven games. The only outlier during that stretch is a 1-0 overtime loss in Calgary a week ago today. That regulation shutout was just part of a quietly impressive stretch for Jonas Hiller, who has a gaudy .939 save percentage and 1.50 goals-against average in the last six appearances.
And he had this nice quote to the OC Register: "Every decision we make, we know it's the right one and even if it's not, we know somebody has our back," Hiller said. "A month ago we were wondering if they were right decisions, and we weren't sure, and we didn't know."
Last night, with about 30 seconds left and the game all but over, the crowd at Honda Center got louder and rose to its feet, not only commemorating a convincing victory, but the recent stellar place of its resurgent hockey team. With the win, the Ducks climbed out of 14th place in the West for the first time since November 17. They're 13 points behind eighth-place Colorado (who has played three more games) with 37 games to go.
It's a tall task to make up that ground, but if the Ducks keep winning like this, who says they can't do it?
While the Ducks don't play here over the next two nights, they will be at Honda Center tonight for the 15th annual Anaheim Ducks Casino Night, presented by The Klein Family. To fit with this year's theme, the Ducks will join guests dressed in their best white (and if they have it, orange) outfits. (I'm still deciding if the very-tight white pants I have left over from the '70s-themed Casino Night of two years ago is going to be appropriate.)
We'll have good coverage, including some player video, photos and more. Keep an eye on our Twitter page for updates tonight.
|More of this tonight, please.
And yet their coach goes into a game tonight with Phoenix using the word "nervous."
"I told them I'm nervous about this game," said a typically candid Bruce Boudreau, clad in a casual hoody and jeans following the morning skate."We have no right to ever be complacent in the position we're in, but it can always set in to a team that's had a two-week run that's been pretty good. They know they can bury us when they play us twice in the next five games. They can do some damage to our hopes."
Ryan Getzlaf told reporters yesterday that the mood of the team is noticeably better, but they can't stop pushing. “It’s been a long road," he said. "It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to have a little fun. Losing is not fun. But we’re not taking anything for granted. We need to get back on the ice and get back to work.”
Still, something all the Ducks will tell you they have going for them is confidence, something that has become a sports cliche, but a cliche for a reason: It's an invaluable asset to a winning team. “It’s amazing how easy it looks when you believe in what you’re doing," Teemu Selanne said. "Everyone is confident now; you can feel it inside the locker room.”
"We go out there now and we know we can beat (anyone)," said Jonas Hiller. "You can feel it out there. Something has changed."
Hiller has been one of the big reasons for that self-assuredness, having unquestionably his best run of the season with a 1.38 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage in his last four starts. He's been so good, in fact, his coach was claiming he got robbed of one of the NHL's Three Stars of the Week that were announced Monday, despite a stretch in which he went 6 1/2 periods of regulation without giving up a goal.
“When you're out West, you don't get the love you do when you're out East,” Boudreau said yesterday, despite the fact he's only been a West Coast coach for a couple months now. “There's no way that Hiller shouldn't have been one of the three stars of the week. It's amazing how the Ducks don't get the love from those guys."
Hiller will be back in there tonight against a Coyotes team that is 11th in the West after a rough start to 2012. Their 6-1 win at home Monday night snapped a stretch in which they had dropped five of six to January. They are also 0-2-3 in their last five on the road.
Goalie Mike Smith was the first off the ice at warmups this morning, and figures to get the start for Phoenix. Smith has been snakebit lately, giving up just six goals in his last five starts, but only having won two of those as Phoenix has struggled to fill the other net. That wasn't a problem Monday, however, as Smith had 38 saves in a 6-1 rout of Colorado at home.
This isn't much, but it's something: If the Ducks can get two points tonight, they crawl out of the 14th spot in the West for the first time in a couple of months, and will be 12 short of that coveted eighth spot with 37 games to go.