Jack and Brick joined coach Milbury for this week’s installment of the Instigators, which looked back at the 2010-2011 NHL regular season as a whole. The topic we thought deserved a little more discussion centered on the biggest surprises of the season. No doubt it was a very eventful year for the NHL (in both good and bad ways), but we will keep our discussion centered on the ice. We were most surprised by how the Ducks could secure home ice advantage in the playoffs without their all-star goaltender Jonas Hiller between the pipes. Hiller was originally injured taking a shot off his mask at the All-Star game and has been sidelined with a head injury ever since.
Yeah, the Ducks might have gotten lucky finishing with 99 points but still held the advantage in tie breaker against Nashville and Phoenix. Dallas finished with 95 points, so the Ducks were not that far from missing the playoffs altogether. Sure the Ducks have absolutely terrific first and second lines (Perry, Selanne, Getzlaf, Ryan, Koivu, Blake), and two of the best defensemen in the conference on the back end (Fowler & Visnovsky), but after that their team gets very shaky.
When successful, the Ducks have been built on goaltending and defense. The mileage they got out of their cast-off goaltending crew was incredible. Ray Emery returning from Russia to go 7-2 down the stretch with a GGA of 2.28? That’s crazy. Dan Ellis coming over from Tampa and going 8-3-1 down the stretch with a 2.39 GGA? Didn’t see that coming. Heck, even Curtis McElhinney chipped in with 6 wins before he was shipped out of town. Corey Perry should definitely be a finalist for the Hart trophy, but we tip our caps to the Ducks’ random goaltending crew. You saved Anaheim’s season, but will almost certainly blow it in the playoffs.