Thursday, July 31, 2008

Teemu Selanne Finnish-ed in Anaheim?


With Selanne now a month late on letting Brian Burke know of his decision, Ducks fans must begin to wonder if the Finnish Flash is finnish-ed in Southern California. Possibly Teemu has been working out to get back into hockey shape and lost his cell phone, or is enjoying his free time in Finland while Brian Burke is busy fretting over Kevin Lowe, but probably not.

The Ducks and Burke have given Teemu the time needed for such a decision and have received nothing, not even a “screw you guys, I’m goin home…” Instead the most beloved hockey player in Anaheim hockey history is choosing much like Brett Favre to taint his legacy.

But there is one major difference, Brett at least made up his mind, and changed it. Teemu can’t seem to do either one. It’s gotten to the point he may not know if he I coming or going. Do I dare say senility may be setting in for the Ducks leader? It could be possible an onslaught of dementia has the 38 year old forgetting to pick up the phone to give a “shout-out” to Brian Burke.

If Teemu is going to return, it’s a month past the “deadline” imposed by Burke. Before people jump me for pointing out he is a free agent, move on, your nagging isn’t needed as I’m the definite source on Bleacher Report who knows that. My point I this “deadline” was less of a deadline and more about manners. The Cap issue lingers in Anaheim because Burke doesn’t know what to do, everything now rides on Teemu.

Furthermore, if Teemu chooses to hang up the skates, the Ducks would be left out to dry in sorts, as the only option would be to trade for a replacement. Luckily they do have the goods on the table to acquire someone worth it, but the loss of Selanne would hurt.

Personally, I love #8, he skates effortlessly, and scores goals at 38 I can’t score at 21. The man has plenty of miles left on the tires and he is still regarded as one of the top scorers in the NHL, regardless of his age. With all this considered, I would ask Brian Burke and the Ducks to move on, make the trades needed, acquire someone talented and get under the cap and prepare for training camp. The insanity of waiting for Teemu has drug on enough.

When school ended in spring, talk of Teemu was in full swing, as I prepare to return he is still the talk of Ducks hockey. Maybe the Ducks can save face, and make a trade for Andy McDonald, that would ease the pain of losing Teemu, for one of joy to have a real franchise player*, who lived for the Ducks back.

Lastly, Burke, put the nails in Teemu’s coffin. It is quite possible the Ducks could be terrible this year without him, but I would rather lose with players devoted to the team than a player who can’t make up his mind. Enough is enough, as is my bantering on this subject.

*Franchise player – someone selfish who sticks by team through thick and thin. Fans know this player would choose the team over selfish idea’s any day.

For definition of selfish please see Teemu Selanne.

Image: Courtesy of The Hockey News

Ken Armer is a Senior Ducks Writer and a Community Leader for the NHL and Anaheim Ducks. You can contact him on his profile or via e-mail at karmer@bleacherreport.com

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finnish Flash to Phoenix?


The likelihood of this happening is slim to none. I am not going to make it sound like this is actually going to happen considering it probably won't. But a rumor was whispered that the Coyotes may be in the hunt for the services of former Winnipeg Jet Teemu Selanne. 
Yes, the man who set the franchise for goals and points in a season and the record for most points and goals by a rookie in NHL history with 76 goals and 132 points. Selanne has scored 40 or more goals in a season 7 different times and has broken the century mark in points on 4 separate occasions. 
So why would Phoenix want him? Don Maloney has a self imposed age cap on the team of somewhere in the low 30s which Selanne is not because he is 38. If signed, he would be the oldest player on the team.
But an even bigger question would be why would Selanne want Phoenix? Teemu has won his Stanley Cup so it isn't going to be for that reason. Does he want to be a mentor to a young team? That is definitely a possibility and Phoenix is definitely a good suitor for that. A 1 year contract for Teemu with Phoenix wouldn't hurt the Coyotes in their cap future considering they are barely at the floor. His signing might also put a few more butts in the seats which is never a bad thing. 
Not to mention, the Coyotes just acquired fellow Finn Olli Jokinen who could be some kind of lure to the team. 
So is this a realistic possibility? If you take in all the conditions I could certainly see it happen. I would be absolutely shocked if it did but thinking about it, the move for Selanne shouldn't be that big of a shock. It would be more of a shock because the Coyotes are spending past the self-imposed cap they have and Maloney broke his age cap. 
The fact that can't be ignored is that Teemu would certainly add leadership to one of the youngest teams in the league, going by the ages off the Coyotes roster on the website and adding in Mikkel Boedker, at 26 years old. Obviously Selanne would drive that up a tad but his value to the team could not be ignored off the ice and on the ice. Before this past shortened season, he had 2 consecutive 90+ point seasons and was almost at a point per game pace in the shortened campaign. 
So like I said, I am not expecting anything to happen with this. In fact I am willing to guess that this is never mentioned by anyone ever again but it is always interesting to look at how players will affect a team if they do indeed sign with the team. Selanne would certainly have a profound effect on the Coyotes and would bring his career full circle. 
Now if he could break those totals he set in his rookie year...

Image found via Google Image search here

Monday, July 28, 2008

My First Post

Greetings All! I'm Scott, "The Big Geek" Fowler, from OC Sports Geeks, and I'm a new Ducks writer here on Battle of the Pacific.

I recently had a chance to interview Greg Wyshynski, aka Puck Daddy from Yahoo! Sports hockey blog on the Ducks current offseason work. I also threw in a Mats Sundin/Leafs question, just because I'm that guy. Here's what he had to say:


The Big Geek: Brian Burke. Great Hockey Visionary, Blowhard Attention whore, or both? Your thoughts?

Puck Daddy:First off, there’s no shame in being an attention whore if you know how that game works. Burke is shrewd; Kevin Lowe came off like a dim-witted ex-jock trying to pick a fight in an ill-fitting varsity jacket.

I wouldn't say great hockey visionary. What's rather amazing about Brian Burke is that he's considered the gold standard for general managers when he’s actually hockey’s greatest hip-hop producer: He’s a remixer who knows what to do with samples, not someone who goes to the studio and builds a song from scratch.

He kept some beats in Vancouver, traded in some others, and then added samples like Ed Jovanovski from other teams. When he picked up an instrument and tried to play something on his own, he ended up drafting guys like Nathan Smith and Fedor Fedorov; one is most famous for showing off his twig and berries while streaking through Scranton, and the other … well, he ain’t exactly Sergei.

In Anaheim, he won with a roster primarily crafted by previous general managers. But the Ducks aren’t winning without Burke adding Pronger, Niedermayer and Selanne, so credit is due.

There’s no shame in taking pieces and creating a masterpiece. It’s just that he’s Timbaland, when a guy like Lou Lamoriello is John Lennon.

The Big Geek:Brian Burke, 2009-10 season: Toronto Maple Leafs GM?

Puck Daddy:Nothing is ever guaranteed with Burke, who reminds me of basketball’s Larry Brown in both his fickle nature and his insatiable desire for new challenges. But destiny does seem to smile on this potential marriage.

Like I said in your first query: Burke isn’t exactly the guy who rebuilds from rock bottom. So if the ego does land in Toronto, it’ll be interesting to see what he’s able to do to turn that franchise around in short order..

The Big Geek:Think Teemu's coming back? Lots of rumors flying out there...And if so, what do you think his level of contribution will be?

Puck Daddy:My money’s on his return, especially after Niedermayer decided to stay off the couch and come to camp.

As far as contribution, he had 48 power-play points in 82 games two years ago and 12 points in 26 games last season. He’s a remarkable weapon on special teams, and a complete difference maker with the man advantage. He could skate like Hurley from “Lost” 5-on-5, but if he’s putting up a power-play point once every two games, it’s worth having him back.

The Big Geek:What do you think the trade potential for D Mattieu Schneider is?

Puck Daddy:Ron Hainsey just signed for, like, eleventy-seventy billion dollars with Atlanta. So yeah, there’s a bit of a premium on offensive defensemen.

The Big Geek:This is un-orange county, but I'm curious cuz I'm also a Leafs Fan. Sundin, playing in 08-09? where?

Puck Daddy:I’ve stopped guessing on Sundin. The only inside information there is would be the information inside his big bald Swedish noggin. I’ll say this: If someone loves you $20 million and you don’t jump, maybe you’d prefer to kick back with some Absolut and meatballs for the next 30 years.

The Big Geek:Brendan Morrisson has shown that he's a great forward, when healthy and contributing. Think he's another Bertuzzi/Weight type of Bust or does he stand the best chance of making a difference on the second line?

Puck Daddy:He won’t be a bust, but the ultimate test for that is going to be chemistry with his wingers. I’m still rather stunned he didn’t take Columbus’s offer and score 60 points skating with Rick Nash. Maybe he’s allergic to Buckeye country, as any Wolverine would be.

The Big Geek:And finally, just generically, anything you're hearing out there in rumors other than Teemu regarding the Ducks?

Puck Daddy:Not a damn thing.. But Anaheim’s action usually comes at the trade deadline. That’s when the rumors start flying faster than Ryan Getlzaf driving to practice.

That's all for this round of questions, but a special thanks to Puck Daddy for his Insight, his time, and his flava. :) Thanks, Greg.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sharks Forward Analysis

I was hoping to put off writing the second of my two-part analysis of the San Jose Sharks units until the Sharks were able to re-sign multi-dimensional forward Ryan Clowe. After all, we heard back in June that the two sides were near an agreement.

However, at this point one must really question whether this deal will get done. The team has little room left in the budget, and Clowe should easily command more than defenceman Christian Ehrhoff, whose deal was reported to be $9.3 million over three years.

Ehrhoff, while a favourite whipping boy of Sharks fans, is a solid young defenceman who was asked to do more than he should have been by coach Ron Wilson. He is a great skater who can move the puck and is already above average in terms of positioning on both sides of the ice. He has even worked on his physicality.

What he lacks is poise in front of his own net, and no doubt is responsible for a lot of turnovers under pressure. He also could not hit an empty net with a shot unless he was within several yards of it. And in his mind he has never committed a penalty.

These problems alone make him worth less than Clowe, who is physical and willing to put his face on the line to back up teammates, scores a variety of ways, and a major asset on both sides of the ice. The only thing he lacks is speed, and the Sharks have plenty of that.

One must assume that the Sharks made him less a priority is that he plays a position they are deeper in. Because he (like Ehrhoff) is a restricted free agent, teams will have to surrender draft picks to take him away from the Sharks. Presuming he will be worth anything more than Ehrhoff, that means giving up a first and third round pick; if he is signed to just under $4 million/year, compensation would also include a second round pick.

This leaves only Clowe and 2004 first round pick Lukas Kaspar on the restricted free agent list. Kaspar should be a cheap re-sign because he has played in only three games in his NHL career, all last season, and is -2 with no points.

But that doesn't exactly engender confidence, so the team is likely looking for someone else to step up. They have already said they are not re-signing Curtis Brown. This is probably because at his age and for what he costs with the team's budget, he is not considered a good long-term investment.

It is unlikely the team will be able to sign any significant free agent if they deemed Brown out of reach. One exception may be former Shark Mark Smith, who may want to return given his connection to the Bay Area, which includes being a guitarist for Bay Area band the Vinyl Trees.

Barring getting someone at a bargain, the team is short of NHL-level forwards to fill in. Leading candidates include 2007 first round pick Logan Couture and sparingly-used forwards Mike Iggulden and Tom Cavanagh (one game each in 2007-8) under contract.

There is also the potential the team may be able to re-sign unrestricted free agents Tomas Plihal or Graham Mink because they will not command much on the open market, either. Plihal has played in 25 games (22 last season) and is +4 with two goals, one assist, and four penalty minutes for his career. He also played in four playoff games in 2008, finishing +1. Mink has only five games of experience with Washington, with a minor penalty, no points and a -1 rating.

It is also unlikely the team would want to dress seven defencemen as former coach Ron Wilson frequently did, since any injury would leave them desperately thin at the position. Thus, there is likely to be at least one starting player who is a question mark going into the season and may require another forward to do some double-shifting. Moreover, the unit will be desperately thin in the event of injuries.

But most teams rarely play their fourth lines, and the Sharks top two lines will be as good as any in the league outside of perhaps Detroit and Pittsburgh; here's how I project them:
  1. Michalek-Thornton-Cheechoo: continuity and talent make this line one of the top five in hockey.
  2. Marleau-Pavelski-Setoguchi: two centres, two speedsters, and three scorers make this a dangerous line.
  3. Shelley-Mitchell-Grier: this would be one of the better checking lines in the game, with great defense and physical wingers.
  4. Couture(?)-Goc-Roenick: whoever plays left wing will likely not be relied on much, but there are still two centres, one with speed and another with scoring ability and experience.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Preparation For Podcast Interview Thoughts

While preparing for a podcast show live from Toronto (at 9am Eastern, ugh!) I came across this video in preparing for the fact I could easily get a Burke going to Toronto question. Thought Duck, and Pacific fans would find it interesting, since Canadian papers still think Burke is going to the frozen north. Also, don't forget Battle of the Pacific, The Puck Drop, and Bleacher Reports own mallard on "Leafs Talk Today". If you don't catch the show live, you can always hear the recording.

Brian Burke is awesome...best quotes in the NHL...


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sharks Complete Coaching Staff

New Sharks coach Todd McLellan has now hired his assistant coaches: Trent Yawney, Todd Richards, Jay Woodcroft, Corey Schwab, and former Sharks favourite Mike Ricci.

Trent Yawney, 42, is the biggest name on the list. He was head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks for more than a season, posting a 33-55-15 record. According to the San Jose Mercury News, he will be in charge of the penalty kill and defence.

He also played in 593 games as defenceman for the Chicago Blackhawks, accruing 129 points and 783 penalty minutes. This included the first three seasons of current Shark Jeremy Roenick’s career. He was also captain of Team Canada in the 1988 Winter Olympics—no small feat.

Richards, 41, has spent the last six seasons coaching the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Milwaukee Admirals, reaching the playoffs all six times. His teams were finalists three times, and the Admirals swept his future team at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2004 for the title.

Since he is listed by the Mercury News as the other coach joining McLellan behind the bench, it can reasonably be assumed that he will take over for Tim Hunter, who was in charge of forwards last season. Hunter and Rob Zettler officially joined former coach Ron Wilson's staff in Toronto Wednesday.

Schwab will be the goaltending development coach, a role that has been filled by Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas since the health of uber-coach Warren Strelow deteriorated to the point where he could no longer fill that role in 2006.

According to sjsharks.com, Thomas will still work closely with Schwab, who played under Strelow and is excited to get a chance to extend his former mentor’s legacy.

Woodcroft is just 31, and served with McLellan last season in Detroit as video coach, preparing both video scouting reports and in-game analysis. “He will take on more responsibilities” this season, McLellan said.

Ricci is coming down from the front office as an advisor to be the team's Development Coach.

Lowe-Blow: Brian Burke's Rubber Duck Stolen By Oilers GM, Feud Continues

*This article was originally posted on Bleacher Report and appears here with permission of the writer.*

Written by Greg Gallagher

EDMONTON, Alta. — Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe has struck back again at Brian Burke.

After being subject to the outspoken Anaheim Ducks general manager's constant negativity through the press following last year's controversial offer sheet to restricted free agent Dustin Penner, Lowe finally struck back recently during an interview on Edmonton sports radio.

When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the two to stop, both men did—but Lowe still wanted a piece of Burke.

Realizing that Burke could easily handle him in a fight, Lowe instead engaged in a covert operation and stole Burke's rubber duckie last week.

"The duck illegally put the Ducks over the salary cap," claimed Lowe, who is allegedly holding the duck hostage at Rexall Place. "Brian is hurting our league with these rogue, fowl signings."

However, Brian Burke surprised the media when asked for comment.

"I would advise Kevin to keep his hands off my duck," he said. "At the last GM meeting, I took his entire 1994 POG collection from his hotel room, and I will smash it all to bits with my cast-iron Burke Salary Cap Slammer if he threatens my duck."

Burke also said his rubber duckie signing fell within the rules.

"You are clearly allowed to sign one duckie over the cap under the Bird Exception," he said about the duck, which reportedly prefers to "play the wing."

When informed that the Bird Exception actually referred to the NBA's salary cap rule, and not a rule allowing rubber birds on a team named after a bird, Burke was unrelenting.

"Kevin Lowe tried to sign an oil rig this summer," said Burke. "I bet it could play better defence than he ever did."

Lowe, for his part, is trying to take the high road.

"If he had just asked, I would have given him the POGs," said Lowe. "Otherwise, he'd better hope his Salary Cap Slammer has a darn good chick magnet in it so he can attract something other than rubber duckies to go on a date with."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Coyotes Defense: A Great Mixture



When the Coyotes acquired Olli Jokinen from the Florida Panthers at this years NHL Entry Draft they created a huge hole in their defense by trading both defense-man Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton.

Ballard was a great offensive defense-man who also wasn’t afraid dishing out some of his trademark hip checks. He was loved in the dressing room as he was a great teammate.

Boynton on the other hand was a pure defensive specialist and a great leader on and off the ice. He was the type guy who would stick up for a fellow teammate no matter what the situation.

With these guys gone it was now GM Don Maloney’s time to replace them, which wasn’t an easy task. Maloney’s first step in replacing them was signing free agent Kurt Sauer previously of the Colorado Avalanche.

Sauer is a very good defensive specialist who is known for playing against some of the leagues best players like Joe Thornton and Jarome Iginla on a night in night out basis.

After Maloney obtained Sauer he then got UFA defense-man David Hale signed to a contract. Hale is probably known most for currently holding the record most games played by an active player without scoring a goal at 215 games.

That fact doesn’t really matter because Hale is not paid to score goals, he is paid to defend and that is exactly what he does.

Sauer and Hale join a defensive corps that all ready includes an all-star defense-man in Ed Jovanovski, a great defender in Zbynek Michalek, an excellent veteran presence in Derek Morris, and a young offensively gifted defense-man in 21-year-old Keith Yandle.

Add up all of these defense-man together and you got a great mix of veteran and young players who are capable of guiding the Phoenix Coyotes to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Anaheim Ducks Come to Terms with Ken Armer

Written by Greg Caggiano of Bleacher Report, reposted here by Ken Armer.

In this breaking news story from TSN, it has been announced that the Anaheim Ducks have agreed to terms with un-drafted free agent winger Ken Armer.

Armer, who works as a writer and editor for the online sports Magazine Bleacher Report, will be following in the footsteps of his favorite NHL player of all-time, Doug Weight. We spoke to Chris Hoeler, Ken’s agent about the signing.

“He’s very excited to be a part of the team he knows and loves,” Hoeler said, “and especially the fact that he’s replacing Doug Weight just adds to the feeling he has right now.”

We then were able to speak with Ken Armer just a few minutes later and he told us, “Of course I’m happy. It’s a dream come true. I especially have to be thankful to by agent ‘Gootz’ Hoeler who contacted Brian Burke about me getting a tryout.”

When asked about his agent, Ken smiled and said, “He’ll be with me for a long time. I’m no Mike Danton you know, I’m not going to kill this kid any time soon.”

We also had to pry him about what it meant to him in replacing Doug Weight. "It's an honor and a privilidge," Armer said. "Dougie was one of the best playmakers in NHL history and had so much speed and pizazz, it's going to be tough for me to replace him, but I think I can manage. I just hope the fans will be patient with this simple kid from Texas."

Armer will join the team for training camp in September and will more then likely make the team right off that bat.

“Armer’s signing has saved us a lot of money. We no longer have to piss away millions at Teemu Selanne to try to force him back this season.” Ducks’ GM Brian Burke told me. “I just hope that the son of a bitch Lowe doesn’t try to steal him from me once he becomes a free agent in three years.”

The contract Armer currently has is a three year deal worth about $6.25 an hour. He will be by far the most underpaid player in NHL history, but he told us he was fine with that. “It’s not about the money. I’m not like Sean Avery or Marian Hossa. I’m a real hockey player who plays because he loves the ice, not the green.” Armer told me.

And when asked about what he plans to bring to his game, he said, “I’m going to bring grit and heart every night. I’m not going to score fifty goals a season, but I’m going to be a team player. I’ll also try my best not to whine, like Sidney Crosby. I can’t wait until the first game we have to play against the Pens. I’m going to flatten the kid out.”

We then spoke to Brian Burke again and he said, “Armer is going to help us beat our number one enemy in the battle of the pacific division...” When I asked him if that ‘number one enemy’ was the San Jose Sharks, Burke shot a glare at me and said, “The Sharks? I don’t give a hootin’ hell about no Sharks. But I do like Mahi-mahi. I hope Ken likes it too, because there will be a piece of sushi waiting for him after each goal.”

And with that, a great story has ended. One of an ordinary kid with dreams of playing in the National Hockey League, only this time, the dream has come true. Stanley Cup, meet Ken Armer!

Photo Credit to Earl Sleek of "Battle of California".

(For those who don't know, Ken Armer can't stand Doug Weight because of the Weight for Andy McDonald trade.)

Randy Carlyle Signs Contract Extension With Anaheim Ducks


On Wednesday the Anaheim Ducks announced they have signed head coach Randy Carlyle to a two-year extension. Carlyle had one year remaining on his original contract and is now the Ducks bench boss through the 2010-2011 season. Per club policy, financial terms were not disclosed.

“In our view, Randy is one of the top coaches in the NHL,” said Executive Vice President/General Manager Brian Burke in the Ducks press release. “We’ve had an aggressive, hard-working club each of the past three years, largely due to his influence. He’s clearly been paramount to our success since taking over the reins.”

Carlyle was named the seventh head coach in the team’s history on August 1, 2005. In 2007 Carlyle led the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup championship, Pacific Division championship, and a franchise-record three consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Only the Detroit Red Wings, Stanley Cup champions this past season have matched the Ducks playoff success since Carlyle has taken over behind the bench. He has the most wins and highest winning percentage in Ducks history, compiling a 138-74-34 record for 310 points in 246 career NHL games (.630 winning percentage).

“Working in Orange County for owners such as the Samueli’s is a privilege, and I’m honored to be able to continue representing the Ducks,” said Carlyle in the press release. “I’m thankful for the great relationship I have with Brian Burke and our hockey staff and expect more success in the future. We fell short of our goal last year and it’s time for us to respond.”

Carlyle is more than just a coach; he is the life blood of the team. His passion and hard-nosed style get carried onto the ice by his players, who over the past two seasons have become one of the most physically bruising in the NHL.

In Carlyle’s first season in 2005-06 he helped lead the Ducks to the Western Conference Finals, but in his second season Carlyle and the Ducks would become the first California team to win the Stanley Cup.

In his third year with the Ducks this past season, Carlyle helped the Ducks achieve their second consecutive 100-point season. Before Carlyle the team had never held such regular season success.

For a guy that never really smiles, his fans and the team have a lot to smile about today after locking up such a successful coach.

For more news on the Anaheim Ducks or any other Pacific Division team be sure to check out Battle of the Pacific, a collaboration of Bleacher Report writers discussing their favorite teams in a blog forum.

Original Source: Courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks website

Image: Courtesy of one of the greatest Ducks wallpapers I have ever seen

Battle of the Pacific Logo News

With a temporary logo in place, one of which I am very excited about but I get even better news, that the artist is making it EVEN BETTER! At any rate, the blog is coming along very nicely, all we need now are more steady viewers, so tell your friends!

Special thanks go out to Bryan Larson, the creator of the logo, and who is continuing work on it to "improve it". How it can get much better I do not know, but my hat goes off to the guy. Also thanks to all our readers who keep coming back, and to Gootzman, for not only setting up the logo thing with Bryan, but also believing in the idea.

There is no where to go now...but up!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Anaheim Ducks Busy Signing Day Yields Possible Depth For Affiliates

*Pictured: Josh Green with the Canucks, and Eric Boguniecki of the New York Islanders*

On Tuesday the Anaheim Ducks announced the signing of four players, all of whom will probably be minor leaguers. This is merely my own analysis and only after training camp will we really know.

The Ducks signed 23-year-old left wing Ryan Donally from the Las Vegas Wranglers, the ECHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames. In 53 games with Las Vegas Donally recorded 37 points, a plus-13 rating, and 176 penalty minutes. He also appeared in 10 regular season games with Quad City, Calgary’s AHL affiliate. In those 10 games he was scoreless with an even plus/minus and 21 penalty minutes. Donally was drafted in the 2003 Entry Draft by Calgary in the third round (97th overall). Donally was signed to a two-year contract.

The Ducks added another 23-year-old left wing by signing Troy Bodie to a one-year contract. Bodie appeared in 62 games with Springfield, Edmonton’s AHL affiliate last season. Bodie recorded 15 points and recorded 108 penalty minutes with the team. Bodie was Edmonton’s ninth-round selection (278th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Adding one more left wing, the Ducks signed Josh Green, a 30-year-old veteran NHL player who played last season in Austria. With Salzburg EC he recorded 42 points and 100 penalty minutes in 43 games. Green’s most recent NHL time was spent with the Vancouver Canucks in 2006-2007, collecting seven points in 57 games.

The final Ducks signing was 33-year-old center Eric Boguniecki. The 5-8, 192-pound Boguniecki appeared in 178 career NHL games with Florida, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and the New York Islanders, earning 76 points, and 105 penalty minutes with a plus-14 rating. In 16 games with ERC Ingolstadt in Germany last season Boguniecki scored 18 points.

Boguniecki is the most probable of the four to be seen with the Ducks, the rest are most likely signings for the Iowa Chops, the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate. Either way the Ducks acquired some experienced players, and got some good young players.

In other Ducks news, rumors have begun to surface that Teemu Selanne has decided to return to the Ducks. I heard this from a reliable source who heard it from a reliable source, so I’m only continuing the rumor. Either way it is nice to keep hope alive.

Original Sources:

Ducks, Anaheim (2008, July, 22). Ducks Sign Left Wings Donally & Bodie. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from Anaheim Ducks Website Web site: http://ducks.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=368880

Ducks, Anaheim (2008, July, 22). Ducks Ink Forwards Green & Boguniecki. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from Anaheim Ducks Website Web site: http://ducks.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=368881

Image: Courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks website

Bad Boy Back In Town: Carcillo Resigns


Daniel Carcillo has signed a multiyear deal with the Coyotes. Money has not been disclosed but I will post it here whenever it becomes available. Check out the Coyotes website for more information on this great news here.
The Coyotes are set for this upcoming season as it seems the team is in place and Don Maloney is happy with what he has got. Its now up to Gretzky to get these young guys to mesh together and create a team that will be dangerous every night.

Image found via Google Search Here

Monday, July 21, 2008

Coyotes Goalies Situation: From Non-Existence to Rock-Solid


The Phoenix Coyotes goaltending situation has done a 180 in the past year. Flashback to the beginning of last season, remember the “Three Headed Monster” the Coyotes had in goal?

The three heads consisted of Alex Auld, David Aebischer, and Mikael Tellqvist, which was quite a scary monster, but not in a good way.

The Coyotes had no clue which goalie would take the ball and run with and in the process become the franchises number one goalie. As it turned out, neither of these three goalies or David Leneveu, another goalie waiting in the wings, would take that ball nor become that number one goalie that the Coyotes so desperately needed.

Mikael Tellqvist would start the season in goal for Phoenix and would get the win in the season opener against the St. Louis Blues. The Coyotes then passed the ball to Aebischer, who played in only one game, a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0.

Finally the Coyotes gave Auld a chance to make his mark and it looked like he was going to take that ball and run with it for a long time. Auld would manage to keep a .500 record with a shutout in his first six games after that it would be all-downhill, as he would lose his next three games in poor fashion.

It was 15 games into the season and the Coyotes goalie situation was the same if not worse than it was to begin the season. The Coyotes got rid of Aebischer, loaning him HC Lugano of the Swiss league for the remainder of the season.

Then out of nowhere a gift fell right out of the sky right onto the Coyotes’ lap. The Coyotes opened it up to find a number one goalie by the name of Ilya Bryzgalov who was put on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks because they already had two great goalies in J.S Giguere and Jonas Hiller.

For the first time since Nikolai Khabibulin and Sean Burke, the Coyotes had a true No. 1 goalie capable of taking them to the playoffs and beyond. The Coyotes season went from being in the race for Steven Stamkos to being in a race for a playoff spot, all because of Bryzgalov’s spectacular play in net and a lot of hard work from the players in front of him.

The Coyotes finished with 38-37-7 record good for 83 points, eight points shy of a playoff spot, a 16 point increase from the 2006-07 season. None of it would have been possible without the gift from the Ducks.

Back to the present, heading into the 2008-09 season the Coyotes not only have a No. 1 goalie for the foreseeable future, but also have but three great options in backup goaltenders. First you have Mikael Tellqvist, the only goalie left of “Three Headed Monster,” who was the backup for Bryzgalov last season and did a very solid job in doing it.

Next you have Al Montoya who the Coyotes acquired from the New York Rangers at last year’s trade deadline. He played all of last season in the AHL with both Hartford and San Antonio. Montoya was once again stellar posting a 24-14-3 record with 2.54 GAA and .912 save percentage.

Finally you have an up-and-comer Josh Tordjman. The 23-year-old posted similar stats to Montoya sporting a 22-14-4 record with 2.65 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. All three of theses goalies will get a chance to battle it out for the backup job come training camp in September.

As you can see there has been a significant change between the pipes for the Coyotes. They not only have a great goaltending tandem for the present, but one that can continue to shine for many years to come.

Is Teemu Selanne back?!

According to sources near the Ducks, Teemu Selanne is back!

Teemu Selanne, the veteran leader of the Anaheim Ducks according to information will NOT retire from hockey, after retiring and returning last season and contemplating the decision again this year.

No formal announcement has been made, and until that point this is all rumor but it is at least good news.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Winter Warriors: The Struggle to Survive the Offseason


When it comes to die hard sports fans, there is always a time of year that they dread. For hockey fans, that time is just beginning now as the free agent frenzy dies down into the doldrums of summer. 

I have been asked a lot about what my summer vacation will be. Summer does have good things. Time off from school. Alot more time to hang out with friends. 
To us die hard hockey fans, summer is the worst. We sit and wait and wait until the doors of our favorite arena open back up to welcome us home (no matter what the price is). We eagerly wait for the familiar voices to come over the radio or television to give us play by play. 
But we await to see our boys on the ice. That first home game where each player is introduced to the raucous crowd that is your home team. Familiar team favorites are welcomed back with applause and and a roar as they salute the crowd. Guys that maybe weren't the favorite last year are given another chance (even if it isn't a big one).
The new faces get introduced to their new home crowd, usually met with thunderous applause. As the puck drops you begin to forget about the last season because you are so caught up in the moment of the first game thinking about the long season ahead. 
It is anything but long to hockey fans. The season zooms by like a speeding bullet. Before you know it, the All Star game approaches and then the trade deadline. Then the stretch run to that second season, all passed by in an instant. Teams move up and down the standings. 
And then, it is the playoffs. 
When all is said and done, odds are that your team isn't the champion. Even if you are the Detroit Red Wings, there is that inherent fear that your team won't make it all the way, even though it seems like they are destined to do so. And when it happens, it is the worst feeling, knowing you won't see your team again until the fall. 
So we come to this point where the real grind starts here in the latter half of July. Hockey news seems to vanish except for a whisper and a murmur here or there. Fans on the internet message boards begin to talk about the most random things to help quell their insanity. And then, when a small scrap of news happens, it is pounced on and looked at from every single possible angle within a matter of minutes. 
But then, it is back to the dull existence of a summer die hard hockey fan. Sure there is the beach, pools, late night stay ups, and a lot of fond memories made. Holidays are celebrated with family and barbeque smells fill the air wherever you go.
Baseball is in full swing (no pun intended) and is the only thing on ESPN (not that any hockey fans watch it).
To everyone, you can have your beaches, your warm weather vacations. You can have all the barbecues you want. Baseball can take those baseball bats and shove it. 
We die hards want to be in a cold rink where years of beer spillage and cheap hot dogs fill the air with the greatest smell ever. We want to sit in our favorite chairs that many of us have sat in since we were just kids. You see old friends who you know only through hockey games but are some of the best friends you have. As your favorite team takes the ice for the first time, its like seeing your best friend for the first time in months. 
But for now, we hockey die hards must wait. And wait. And wait some more through the boring baseball days, the warm weather, the sun burn, and the barbecues. 
I want bitter cold winter while just wearing a T-shirt and a hockey jersey. Give me weather so cold I can see my breath and when you go outside for the first time, your hair freezes from just coming out of the shower. I want winds that are so brisk, that you have to turn your face away.
Frozen hands and feet are a welcome feeling to me all for one reason. I know hockey season is starting. 
You know why the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year? Because its hockey season. 
But for now we diehards wait. And I keep saying die hards for a reason. Hockey die hards are everywhere. Some follow other sports during the season and offseason which is great because they become a broader fan of sports. But for those of us that have no real interest in other sports, especially during the offseason, it is worse.
We are the ones who eagerly wait for schedules to come out so we can circle all the games we will be able to go to. We keep track of player numbers and order that new jersey for the new season. And then we wait. Every night we go to sleep is the best feeling, knowing it is one day closer to hockey season. One day closer to going home. 
For those of us that write on hockey, this time of year is tough as topics to keep our readers entertained are few and far between as the predictions are written up. But every now and then we do find something good to write about.
So for my fellow die hards, I wish you well in surviving the grueling month of August that is certainly going to be a bear as we wait as our good friend Kari Lehtonen is waiting on top of his goal. If it helps, just go to your air conditioner and put your hands up to it until you can feel that numbing cold and maybe, just maybe, you will get a little bit of that feeling of happiness back as your hands become numb. 
Image found via Google Image search here

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Phoenix Coyotes' Road Ahead


The Phoenix Coyotes schedule is an interesting one as the league changes the format from the division oriented schedule to a more league wide format. Here are a couple of dates for the Coyotes that could be big for the club.

October 11th vs Columbus: The home opener and first game of the regular season is always important. The young Coyotes will look to start the season the right way vs a different Blue Jackets squad.

October 15th @ Chicago: The first of 4 meetings between 2 teams that could be at the top of the Western Conference in the future with so many great young players on their rosters. 

October 23rd and 30th vs Capitals and vs Penguins: Ovechkin and Crosby come out to the desert in their only meetings of the season with Phoenix. Look for the Coyotes to try and show their stuff against teams that have found success following the same path they did.

November 15th vs Dallas: Daniel Carcillo vs Sean Avery. Any questions?

November 24th @ NYR: Of course this game is important....Why wouldn't it be on this list? Another day where my 2 favorite teams go at it and I sit in Section 420 not knowing who to root for.

December 13th vs Detroit: The Stanley Cup Champs come to Phoenix and the Coyotes will be looking to make some noise against them. Definitely a measuring stick game.

January 8th vs Tampa Bay: Radim Vrbata and Rick Tocchet make their returns to Phoenix with their new team while this year's top draft pick Steven Stamkos makes his debut in the desert.

March 5th @ Boston: Coyotes visit Blake Wheeler and his new team after snubbing the Coyotes. Look for a little bad blood between the Coyotes and their former prospect.

Those are the biggest games of the year besides the usual divisional games which I decided not to put on here. The Coyotes will be looking to make some serious noise this year and get a serious bid at making the playoffs. With alot of young players and leadership, they should be able to. But with a schedule like this, it won't be easy.

Image found via Google Image search here

Eric Boguniecki Magically Appears on Ducks Roster

Surfing AllDucks.com provided someone mentioning Eric Boguniecki is now an Anaheim Duck. Of course being the journalist I am I went to the Ducks website to see a confirmed press release and there is nothing, but he is on the Ducks roster.

I have no details on his signing, length, or even possible amounts of money. Could he possibly be the Teemu replacement? It seems more logical he is filler in Iowa, but I don't know much about the guy...

I'll post more as I get it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ducks Looking for "Power Players" and possible replacement for Teemu Selanne




There are few things that make hockey players and hockey fans blood run to the "lower extremities" like the addition of cheerleaders to hockey. It was probably the most inventive idea for the game since the goalie mask or the mullet.

Now putting my own hormone induced lust aside, what is the purpose? Minor ice maintenance..really? Now the promotional side of things is genius, but do we really need them on the ice? Oh well, they have their place in the game now.

The Ducks also proceeded with tryouts for the new Teemu Selanne. Hell, the Ducks would take for a Brett Favre type phone call from him. Brett made up his mind twice, Teemu hasn't even done it once.

On the latest Ducks Blog on the O.C. Register website there has been quite a debate over the true talent of J.S. Giguere, the possible trade options for the Ducks, and whether Ducks fans even want back Teemu.

The minority is that Teemu should either make up his mind, or stay away. I am of that minority, although I greatly defend Teemu and like the fact that at his age he is a point a game player, but the whole ignoring the team thing leads to be expecting a Brian Burke replacement.

Who this replacement could be is a damn good question. If he can find a trade for Schneider and Marchant (the other expected member on the trading block) possibly Burke can bring in someone capable of filling the void and be cheap.

I hate to be rude, and say i told you so but I told you so, but Burkie, I did. I knew from the get go you should have traded Schneider and held on to Andy McDonald, and still to this day your looking to recover his skill (in acquiring Morrison) and his $3.3 million is manageable on the team now.

Maybe we can train a Power Player girl to fill Teemu's void...If we wait much longer to replace him that might be our only choice.

As my father would say to Teemu: "Shit, or get off the pot"

San Jose Sharks Blueline and Goalie Analysis


In part one I am examining the blueline and goaltending currently on the Sharks roster. I hope to provide an analysis of the team's forwards once we find out whether they can re-sign Ryan Clowe.

The backbone of every team is its goaltending, and the Sharks are strong in this unit. Not only should Evgeni Nabokov have won the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie, leading the league in wins (46) and games played (77-tied with Martin Brodeur, who did win the trophy), but he was only .03 goals per game worse than Brodeur.

There are a handful of goalies I would take over Nabokov despite his career year. I believe that while Nabby deserved the award last year, Brodeur is probably still better than him if for no other reason than playoff experience. I also think that Miikka Kiprusoff is a more tested commodity, and there is no question Jean-Sebastien Giguere has the pedigree and consistent performance to surpass all his peers.

Roberto Luongo is probably better, but a less proven commodity, especially in the playoffs. The same can be said for Henrik Lundqvist. That leaves Nabby as unquestionably a top six goaltender, in the top 20% of the league's starters.

Brian Boucher saw limited action last season, playing mostly in the minors. Despite being the league's record holder for consecutive scoreless minutes in net, he struggled some a couple years back and was out of the NHL for about a year.

However, Boucher played very well in the time he did get, he is still fairly young, and he has playoff experience. This makes him a mixed result projection: could be very good, could be shaky; therefore, he must be considered average.

Moreover, the team has Thomas Greiss as an emergency #3 goalie if there's an injury. He has limited NHL experience and was considered good enough to back up Nabokov a good part of last year.

The #1 goalie needs to be the strongest, so overall this unit is outstanding. Perhaps only Anaheim has a better goaltending unit, since Jonas Hiller is at least as much a sure thing as Boucher and Giguere has an edge on Nabokov. Other teams either lack the outstanding #1 and/or have lesser back-ups.

If net-minding is a team's backbone, the defensemen are its legs. If you have even a mediocre blueline in the West, you will be exposed as the Sharks have been the last couple years in the playoffs. All three teams they fell to had better defensemen on the whole.

So this year general manager Doug Wilson made bold moves to upgrade the unit. In the end, the team was minus tow defensemen who played key roles: gritty leader Craig Rivet and young offensively skilled Matthew Carle. However, Carle could not crack the lineup on a consistent basis, and Rivet's lack of speed was getting exposed from time to time.

In their place, the unit now boasts four Stanley Cup rings. Stay-at-home defensman Brad Lukowich has won two. His old defensemate Dan Boyle, who is among the best in the league at offensive and puck-handling skills that the team needs to play the new style favoured by coach Todd McLellan, has one. Rob Blake, still among the most dangerous power play defensemen in the game, also has one.

Meanwhile, the team was able to re-sign Christian Ehrhoff, who was key defending teams on the move last season, and is improving his physical play and puck-handling. McLellan will also be able to rely on marathon defender Marc-Edouard Vlassic, who is coming off a bit of a sophomore season let-down but still is reliable in his own end.

The unit also features two returning heavy hitters, Kyle McLaren and Douglas Murray. McLaren has struggled to stay healthy the last three years but is a solid seventh defenseman who should see some time with or without injury. Murray has improved greatly in terms of his positioning and even getting the puck out of the defensive end, and is an intimidating presence that keeps opposing forwards from skating boldly into the zone.

One thing the Sharks do not have is more depth. Currently, the next defenseman listed on the depth chart is Derek Joslin, a 21-year old fifth round pick in 2005. He is 6'1" and 210#, but has not played a single NHL game. With the team tight against its budget a key player yet to be signed, it is unlikely there will be any additions to this unit. Thus, I project the pairings to be as follows:

  1. Boyle-Lukowich puts two players who know one another together with different skill sets, Lukowich can be counted on to be in positions and provide a physical presence while Boyle can be counted on to advance the puck and provide the secondary scoring when the opportunity presents itself. Luke will play on the penalty kill and Boyle the power play. This would be one of the top ten first pairs in the league.
  2. Blake-Vlassic puts the most experienced player with the least in this unit. Blake provides the offensive capabilities (especially on the power play) and the size to have to be accounted for. Vlassic provides the skating ability and endurance to keep the pair from getting caught flat-footed, and his steady play makes him seem more experienced than he is and a perfect choice for the penalty kill. This would be one of the top five or six second pairs in the league.
  3. Murray-Ehrhoff puts another hitter with another fast skater, and both have enough experience to be reliable in key situations including helping on the penalty kill. Ehrhoff will also likely see power play time, and that alone shows this would be one of the best third pairs in the league.
  4. As for the reserves, McLaren may be among the best defensemen not dressed, but obviously since it gets very shaky after that. Therefore, I would have to rate this level of the unit in the bottom half of the league. Fortunately, it is unlikely they will be called on much.

Overall, the Sharks are in the top five of the league in this unit as well. Obviously Anaheim and then Detroit have better bluelines. The Flames and the Rangers have comparable units. The Stars are in the same league, but I think a shade below.

(This article has appeared on The Cold Shoulder on MVN.com and Bleacher Report.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In need of Los Angeles Kings bloggers

* I nominate these girls!!*


Ken: Know any Kings fans?
Ian: They have fans?

Yes, that is quite how it seems here at Battle of the Pacific. We have all the teams represented but the Kings. So we want you Kings fans! All you need is a hockey mind and the want to cover the kings for us. If interested in writing regarding the Kings, or any other Pacific Division team e-mail Ken at karmer@bleacherreport.com.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Phoenix Coyotes Building a Stalwart Defense in the Desert


The Phoenix Coyotes blue line went through a major overhaul this offseason when Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton were traded to Florida as the main pieces of the Olli Jokinen trade.Going into free agency, Don Maloney was certainly going to be looking at a deep defensive crop.

However, speaking to him at the Coyotes Rookie Open House, he said that he would not be going after the big name free agents rather focusing on what he called "value" players. Guys that would be able to replace Boynton and Ballard and eat up the minutes they played and take over their role. 

Maloney certainly did that this offseason. The first defenseman he signed was Kurt Sauer. Kurt is a big kid at 6'4 220 pounds and is only 27 years old. He has played with Colorado for the past few seasons where he has excelled as a shutdown defenseman.
In a great article on Hockeybuzz, Daniel Tolensky broke down the number of minutes among Colorado defensemen going up against the big offensive producers in the Western Conference.
Tolensky was trying to show that the Toronto Maple Leafs had signed the wrong defenseman when they signed Jeff Finger to an outrageous contract and that they should have signed Kurt Sauer.
If you don't feel like reading it, it shows that Kurt Sauer was the man out there against those big name players like Iginla, Thornton, and Sedin. The points scored by these players on the ice against Sauer is not told, but the fact that Sauer was out there for these kinds of minutes shows the kind of skill and trust that was placed on him. He isn't a big point producer but he will definitely help prevent points from being scored.
The other defenseman that the Coyotes snagged was David Hale. He is another young defenseman at 27 years old who played for Calgary. While not a big point producer, Hale is a good depth defenseman who will play a safe style knowing that in his case defense is more important than offense. He is still looking for his first NHL goal.
It would be nice to see him get it this year but as long as he does his job as a lower pairing defenseman I will be happy with this acquisition. 
These two players join Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, Zbynek Michalek, and Keith Yandle (maybe) on the blue line. Jovanovski finally played a full season this past year and set a career high in points with 51 (12 goals, 39 assists).
He finally looked like the defenseman that the Coyotes signed to that big contract. This year he will be looking to not only improve on his point total but also provide leadership on a blue line that is relatively young with an average age of 27 when the season starts. 
Derek Morris is coming into a contract year this upcoming season and will also be providing leadership as one of the alternate captains to captain Shane Doan. His defensive play improved greatly this year even though his offensive production has been better than recently.
The Coyotes will be looking for that same defensive play along with a bit more offense to help stabilize the defense. 
One of the most unknown yet best young blue liners in the game is Zbynek Michalek. He spent much of last year playing with Jovanovski primarily as a defensive partner rather than in an offensive role.
He is a young guy who is learning how to be a solid defensive force on the blue line while also learning the offensive skills needed to become an effective puck moving defenseman. Hopefully he can move off the pairing with Jovanovski and show his abilities that he showed when playing his first few seasons with Keith Ballard, scoring 20+ points each year.
The last spot on defense is sort of a mystery. Matt Jones just signed a one way contract that could give him the spot if he can earn it. However, young defenseman Keith Yandle is certainly making a run at it. He played 43 games with Phoenix last year tallying 5 goals and 7 assists.
Not much right now but he has the skills to become a very good puck mover in the NHL someday and the Coyotes are counting on him to be that considering their lack of prospect depth on defense relative to the rest of the team (Chris Summers is a name you will be hearing soon).
He had some defensive lapses this past year but if he is paired with someone like David Hale who focuses on defense most of the time, then Yandle should be able to loosen up the grip on his stick and play a simpler game rather than trying to do too much at once. 
The Coyotes certainly lost 2 big names on the blue line in Ballard and Boynton. Keith Ballard is a great young defenseman whose hip checks are second to none while Nick Boynton brought grit and a bit of an edge to the back end. But the additions of Sauer and Hale along with the growth of Michalek and Yandle, and the leadership of Morris and Jovanovski will be plenty to let this blue line really improve from last year and be an effective defense for the team to be supported on. 
Things are really looking up in Phoenix. 
Image found via Google Image search here

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Joakim Lindstrom Signs with Anaheim Ducks


The Anaheim Ducks today announced they had acquired Joakim Lindstrom from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

The 24-year-old left wing appeared in 25 games last season with the Jackets, scoring three goals and four assists for seven points. Lindstrom also recorded 14 penalty minutes. He spent most of the season in Syracuse, the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate.

In 49 games with the Syracuse Crunch, he scored 25 goals, 25 assists for 60 points and he also recorded 68 penalty minutes. Lindstrom led the team in both points and power play goals (13) while tying the team lead in goals.

With Syracuse in the Calder Cup playoffs, Lindstrom scored four goals and three assists for seven points in 13 games.

Columbus selected Lindstrom in the second round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He is a native of Skellefea, Sweden.

The Lindstrom acquisition looks more like a solid signing for a top scorer to place in Iowa, rather than a Ducks' regular in the roster. With Bobby Ryan expected to move up to the Ducks' second line, Lindstrom could not only replace Ryan in the AHL, but also split time between Des Moines and Anaheim this coming season.

In other Ducks news, the team announced they had signed 2007 first round draft pick Logan MacMillan to a three-year entry-level contract. Per Club Policy, financial terms were not disclosed.

The 19-year-old scored 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points in 46 games last season with Halifax in the QMJHL last season. In those 46 games, MacMillan recorded 77 penalty minutes.

Even though both signings are less than a million dollars a year hit on the cap, these small acquisitions are more nails in the coffin of the impending trade of a Ducks' player, most likely Mathieu Schneider.

With both signings, the Ducks continue to solidify a great team in Iowa. Hopefully MacMillian’s new contract is a sign he will be moving up to the AHL this season.

Original Sources: Courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks website

Image: Courtesy of the Syracuse Crunch website

Ken Armer is a Senior Ducks Writer and a Community Leader for the NHL and Anaheim Ducks. You can contact him on his profile of via e-mail at karmer@bleacherreport.com

Phoenix Coyotes' Crease Set for the Long Haul


When it comes to the Phoenix Coyotes, one of the bigger question marks over the years has been goaltending.

After Nikolai Khabibulin left, Sean Burke took over and later Brian Boucher. And despite the fact Brian Boucher set the record for longest shutout streak in a Coyotes uniform, the Coyotes were still looking for stability.

Following a troublesome time in the Motor City, along came Curtis Joseph who had a few solid years in Phoenix but even the man they call CuJo wasn't the answer, as his age seemed to be catching up with him.

At the beginning of this year, Mikael Tellqvist was the starting goalie with Alex Auld and David Aebischer behind him on the depth chart. Tellqvist was (and still is) a good goalie but he isn't a starting goaltender in the NHL on a night to night basis, which still left a void between the pipes for the Coyotes.

Don Maloney needed to find someone who could be the bonafide number one goalie that the Coyotes have been looking for. They had been looking at Anaheim's backup Ilya Bryzgalov for awhile at this point but Brian Burke was asking for more than Don Maloney was willing to give.

However, Burke had promised Bryzgalov he would get him to a place where he would be the number one guy. Due to a J.S. Giguere's ownership of the crease in Anaheim, Bryzgalov was put on waivers with Burke knowing that someone would take him.

Don Maloney pounced and the Coyotes had the man they were looking for.

Bryzgalov met the Coyotes in LA and played in a game vs the Kings. Not only did he win, but it was a shutout, signaling that the Coyotes had finally found their man.

With Bryzgalov starting and Tellqvist backing him up, the Coyotes made a surprising run towards the playoffs but ultimately fell short.

So with last year in the books, what does the future hold for the 'Yotes new number one netminders?

Bryzgalov is a young goalie at only 28 years old but the Coyotes have always been sure to look to the future and there are three goaltenders that have shown promise and really caught the eye of this team.

The first goalie is Josh Tordjman. Last year's starter in San Antonio (the Coyotes farm team), Josh posted a 2.65 goals against average and a .910 save percentage, along with 22 wins. His stellar play over the last few seasons in the Coyotes farm system has him penciled in as the Rampage's starting goalie for next season.

However a trade at the deadline this past February brought in a Maloney draft pick from his New York days: Al Montoya was acquired by the Coyotes and somewhat of a goaltending controversy was created in the AHL.

Despite Montoya's sub-par year last season, he is a solid goaltender who, with a little help, could get back to his high potential and really become a great prospect again.
His 2006-2007 season was where he really turned things on with a 2.30 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Look for him to seriously battle with Josh Tordjman for the top spot in San Antonio this coming year.

The 3rd goalie that I am talking about is probably someone not many people know, considering he played in Europe in each of his previous professional seasons.

Joel Gistedt has spent the last 2 years in Frolunda, Sweden where he has turned into a goaltender with realistic NHL dreams, and he really impressed me when I saw him at the Coyotes prospect development camp here in Phoenix.

Any Ranger fan who watches him would say he looks exactly like another Swedish goaltender on Broadway who received consideration for the Vezina trophy this past season.

He has unbelievable leg speed and really could turn into a surprise for Phoenix. He was one of the best goaltending prospects at the 2007 draft and really could be something interesting to watch for the Coyotes.

However, with Tordjman and Montoya in front of him now however, look for him to start in the ECHL with the Arizona Sun Dogs who will be looking to repeat as league champions.
For the first time in a long time, the Coyotes goaltending situation isn't a question mark in the present or for the future—it is actually their most underrated position when it comes to the future.

But for now, Bryzgalov could make it something really special, don't you think?

Image found here via Google Image search.

Welcome to Battle of the Pacific

First and Foremost, Welcome!

Yes, we have a Duck's biased main logo but it is only temporary while we work on a logo for the site. During the initial stages we will also be recruiting bloggers and writers who know their teams best.

Inspiration for this project came from the Battle of California, a satirical look to the three team rivalry in the state.

We hope you enjoy the site. If you have any comments or questions e-mail them to karmer@bleacherreport.com. If you would like to submit to become a team blogger send an e-mail to the same address. Look for improvements between now and the season, and remember to keep your stick on the ice!