NHL News: Bob Murray Steps in as Ducks Head Coach

Ducks General Manager Bob Murray Steps In As Head Coach “To Find Out Problems”

The Anaheim Ducks continue to circulate the media world for all the wrong reasons though. If this is new to you the Ducks have been one of the worst teams in hockey the last two months.

Anaheim’s Last 21 Games…

Th Ducks have won just two games since December 18th 2018, went on a 12-game losing streak December 18th to January 15th after winning back to back games and their only two wins in the last 2 months. They are on a current 7-game losing streak and being out scored drastically in this 7-game span. The Ducks have scored 8 goals in seven games while allowing 37 goals against in seven games. Looking at the bigger picture of the Ducks 21-game disaster they have allowed 82 goals against, while scoring 34 goals for. The Ducks have been shutout five times, average 1.62 goals for per game over the last 21 games, 3.9 goals against per game. In this 21-game span they have a record of 2-15-4 a -48 goal differential, -105 shot difference, 12.7 percent power play and 78.9 penalty kill.

Clearly things have not been well in Anaheim and their small pre-All Star break/deadline moves did not do anything. It was inevitable that the Ducks were going to can Randy Carlyle, a head coach of his stature, Stanley Cup experience (winning one with Anaheim) etc. not getting the job done the end decision was firing him before the season ended. We are all surprised he lasted this long though, either way we all knew he was going to get fired. Stuff has been sh*tty to be blunt. I don’t think anyone expected the Ducks to have their GM Bob Murray step in and be the head coach though. Murray has no NHL coaching experience and this will be the first time we will see a GM behind the bench and making executive decisions at the same time.

Murray Feels It Is Necessary To Be Behind The Bench

In a recent article on NHL.com with Mike Zeisberger, Murray addressed a lot of concerns fans have. He said he feels as if this is the best way to figure out what is going on and get to the bottom of the problems right now. He agrees that he should be “in the trenches” with the team during this rough patch. He also said he does not think it is fair to bring someone at this point in the season and how rough it is in Anaheim right now.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf said he understands why Murray is coming to coach and supports his decision fully. He believes it may be beneficial to see what the locker room is like and hopefully give them a spark.

The Ducks play the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night. Murray will have two and a half days to fully prepare for what his first day behind the bench will look like. Wednesday night vs Vancouver could end the Ducks dry spell, we have seen new coaches come in and be successful their first game and following weeks after it. (Ken Hitchcock in Edmonton, Doug Weight in New York) I would not be surprised to see a Ducks win Wednesday night. Things cannot get much worse for Anaheim than having tickets being sold for as low as $17 and fans wearing brown bags to games.

Anaheim Ducks Trades

Anaheim Ducks In Full Retool Mode Among 12-Game Losing Streak

The Anaheim Ducks are on full blown retool mode as their 12-game losing streak carries on and is put to the test again Thursday night vs Minnesota. The Ducks have lost their last twelve games, they have not won since December 17th. Therefore today marks the Ducks 1-month anniversary without winning a game.

There losing streak all started with the New York Rangers in Anaheim. The Rangers won 3-1 and from that moment on it has been all down hill for the Ducks. They have scored 20 goals over the course of their losing streak (1.6 goals per game), have allowed 43 goals against (3.6 goals against per game). Two of the Ducks 12 loses have come in overtime, so at least they have picked up two points in the last 12 games.

It is obvious that things are not well in Anaheim right now, head coach Randy Carlyle is calling reporters jerks, they shipped out a veteran Andrew Cogliano who spent the last eight seasons with Anaheim, traded a young upcoming forward prospect Pontus Aberg as well as Luke Schenn and Joseph Blandisi but they were not big factors on the roster.

The Ducks have since trading these players received in return, Michael Del Zotto (Luke Schenn deal), Derek Grant (Blandisi deal), Justin Kloos (Aberg deal) and Derek Shore (Cogliano deal)

The Ducks next four games until the All-Star break are the Minnesota Wild, Devils, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues. Aberg who was sent to Minnesota gets to play his old team for the first time since the new trade. 

I’m a big believer in shaking things up but I do not think this shake up/retool is going to benefit the Ducks a whole lot.

How one game changed Pittsburgh’s and Anaheim’s seasons in unexpected ways

It was Monday night, December the 17th and the Pittsburgh Penguins were hosting the Anaheim Ducks in PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The Ducks came back from a two-goal deficit to win the game 4-2. Nothing serious happened you would say, but this game turned out to be potentially season-changing.

Let’s take a look at what happened next. The Ducks lost seven straight games and the Penguins won eight in a row. And now that’s something. But it wasnt just a coincidence, not at all. Going into that game in mid-December, the Ducks were streaking hotter than any other team in the league and the Penguins were not.

Anaheim turned from red-hot to cold soup

Going into that game in Pittsburgh, the Ducks won ten of their last twelve games in the mean time. That comeback win over the Penguins meant their sixth straight win on the road, which tied their franchise record. And they won 11 out of 13 games played. The Ducks, however, didn’t play their best hockey that night and the Penguins players were trying to excuse their loss as they said it was just unfortunate.

Anaheim lost the very next game with giving up a shorthanded goal with just 40 seconds remaining in the third period in Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. The Ducks were miserable that game, still they scored first and were up by one ahead of a final 10-minute stretch of the road game. The Rangers tied it up and won the game while shorthanded with 40 seconds remaining on the clock in that third period.

Maybe the Ducks started to think that now as they are pretty hot and good, they will start to win with low efforts, but that turned out to be huge mistake. They are still in a play-off spot in the Western Conference today, which just documents how much that streak helped them. On the other side, that lost finally woke up the struggling Penguins.

Pittsburgh found blessing in tough loss

The Pens lost 14 out of 23 games going into that game on home ice against the Ducks. They blew a two-goal lead and lost the game, but didn’t feel like they were playing bad hockey. Since then, Pittsburgh won eight straight games and they gave up just nine goals in those eight straight wins, also getting a lot of help from heavily criticised goaltender Matt Murray.

That win by the Ducks in Pittsburgh was probably a lucky one. But no one ever thinks when they win in the NHL, you just need to be lucky sometimes. Luck is just relative and very temporary. If you are headed to the right direction and you still find a way to lose games, just stay with it and you will prevail at some point (i.e. Pittsburgh). Now it’s Anaheim who thinks that they are conceding unlucky losses as of late. But they keep coming.

Tonight, the Ducks host the struggling Oilers in Honda Center, Anaheim, unlike the Penguins face a mighty curse as of now. Pittsburgh faces off against Chicago, a  tea, they have not defeated for nine games in a row. The Penguins will be hoping to end that losing streak and earn their ninth straight win to go to the top of the Metropolitan division.

NHL Power Rankings: From 15th and up…

15. Columbus Blue Jackets: 43-30-9

The Metropolitan division is not as deep as it used to be. The Rangers, Hurricanes and Rangers are not contending teams anymore and the Devils while they had a great year last year are going to need a lot of fire power to repeat that season. I believe Columbus comes in at 4th in their division but middle of the pack for the year. They do not have a great team to be honest, while they have a very competent goalie and two good defenseman they are very thin on the backend. Like many teams though they have a solid group upfront, that is if Artem Panarin stays the full-year in Columbus as of right now basing of their situation it seems Panarin is starting the year with them. Making their first three lines very capable of scoring goals, with a fourth line of Sonny Milano-Riley Nash-Anthony Duclair they have a potential four scoring lines. Hopefully Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson can stay healthy, along with Josh Anderson. But aside from those three the Blue Jackets will be relying on Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alex Wennberg and Pierre-Luc Dubois to have a big year and be a focal point of this offense day in and day out. After another playoff season and falling short in the first round perhaps the Blue Jackets can come over that hump once and for all! 

14. Anaheim Ducks: 45-30-7

I think they creep into that #3 spot, essentially that 3, 4, 5 is going to be a real dogfight in the Pacific next year and with the Kings, Ducks and Flames really all relatively similar in structure and lineup depth, the Ducks team overall may be a little more balanced. Sure Corey Perry is not on-fire lately but with Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Jakub Silvferberg, Adam Henrique and a few other options on the forward end their has to be some spark in Anaheim. Their defense when healthy is a solid group of seven guys honestly, Brendan Montour, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson Hamphus Lindholm, Andrej Sustr and Luke Schenn that is a solid seven if you look at what each line will be doing. If John Gibson and Anaheim’s D can stay healthy it is a major confidence booster for the Ducks offense as well knowing you have puck moving defense it makes the forwards job easier, and looking at four puck moving d on Anaheim it can be a major positive for them. A possible third place finish or if they come out slow like they usually do, it could be a missed playoff chance for Anaheim.

13. Minnesota Wild: 43-32-7

The Wild are going to need another big year out Jason Zucker and Eric Staal without those two forward last year it would have been a different turn out for Minnesota. They have a lot of skill but not much consistency. Zach Praise you can chalk up for about 30 points if that, Mikael Granlund had that one year where he rose to the occasion hen battled injuries last year, same with Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle, two young forwards that have been hovering around that same point total for quite sometime now, they are either due for a breakout year or going to continue on this path. Along with an aging and injured Ryan Suter, all you have is Jared Spurgeon and Matthew Dumba two good defenseman but it is not enough. The Wild are good, they will get away with a lot because of their offensive talent and depth but, where they lack defensive depth is their issue. Same goes for goaltending, Devan Dubnyk is solid but at 32-years-old it is not getting easier for the goalie. This may be one of the last seasons we see the Wild within the top 15, another playoff run fallen short for this team.

12. Los Angeles Kings: 43-30-9

That division is not a breeze through for L.A. as it used to be but now you have teams like Vegas, San Jose, Calgary and Anaheim this is going to be a battle for L.A. I would not be surprised if they missed the playoffs. With the Flames getting better, the Ducks staying relatively the same and the Sharks and Vegas being the power houses in this division. The Kings may fall in the 4, 5 spot if anything. But luckily they do have a great tandem on defense in Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez and Dion Phaneuf to accompany that Jonathan Quick the William J Jennings trophy and Vezina winner is a solid addition not to mention. Hopefully eh Kings can string some offense together they saw a bizarre year out of Dustin Brown, a big bounce back year from Anze Kopitar but with Jeff Carter aging and really only Tyler Toffloli being the other option the Kings are not super deep on the offensive side of things. We can assume Ilya Kovalchuk will come in and score 30-goals but being out of the NHL since 2011-12 is a long time, as they say one year out and in the KHL equals like seven years (technically he was gone for 42 years), all joking aside. Kovalchuk may be a good addition with Kopitar or he may not be, we do not know he has been out for quite sometime I would not be surprised if the veteran winger had around 50 points this year. Anyways, middle of the pack for the Kings is reasonable what they finished last year essentially perhaps a little worse.

11. Philadelphia Flyers: 44-28-10

They somehow got by with their goaltending last year and I don’t think anything will change in that regards. They added James Van Reimsydk a former Flyer and now current Flyer gets to play alongside Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek, not to mention their first line with Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny, they are very deep across the forward side of things. But they are very similar to Minnesota good upfront and lack depth on the back end. The Flyers saw some good things out of their young defenseman last year and with Ivan Provorov with another year under his belt, Shane Gostisbehere on the back end too these two will do a lot of the heavy lifting. But Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg showed some bright spots last year. It will be a similar run for the Flyers they will have their ups and downs but at the end of it all, they will be out in the first round.




FREE NHL Picks: April 6, 2018

Ottawa Senators(28-41-11) vs Pittsburgh Penguins(46-29-6)

The Penguins have officially clinched their playoff berth for the playoffs. While these two met last season in the Conference finals, the Senators have taken a total 360 and will be sitting out of the playoff picture after a second-place finish in the division last year. Hate to see it happen to Ottawa but honestly, this team was destined for it this season. They lost Karlsson early, Anderson played terribly and there top forwards could not stay healthy all year. Plus they brought a cancer, Matty Duchene on. Never helps. Anyways this game LITERALLY means nothing. The Penguins come into this game 6-3-1, on a back to back and late overtime game Thursday night. But they’ve already beat the Senators twice this season and will more than likely beat them a third time. Going Penguins, no matter who is in net for them.

Buffalo Sabres(25-43-12) vs Tampa Bay Lightning(53-23-4)

Again a game that means nothing. The Lightning are sitting comfortably in a playoff spot but the only implication to this game is the rankings for playoffs. They are now tied for first with Boston, as Boston has a game in hand. If Tampa clinches first they will most likely face the Flyers in the first round, if not they get Toronto. So if you are Tampa Bay you are getting every point for the rest of the season. The Lightning come into this game off a day and a half of rest, after a 4-0 win over Boston and 5-5-0 in their last ten. With Steven Stamkos out the Lighting may be going on yet another playoff run without their captain. They have sort of declined in play recently but nothing they should be too worried about. The Lighting are clearly the better team, the Sabres have clinched the last place spot in the NHL and an 18.5 percent chance for the first overall pick. The Sabres come into this game 3-7-0 in their last ten, on a two-game losing streak and having played Tampa three times and beating them twice this season. Tonight I am going Tampa.

St. Louis Blues(43-31-6) vs Chicago Blackhawks(33-37-10)

The Blackhawks beat the Blues Wednesday night to make the Blues route to the playoffs even more difficult. They want to ruin this teams dreams and ruin their playoff hopes. They have made it very clear too as Alex Debrincat was quoted “we want to ruin their playoff hopes”. This game is going to be a battle, one of the biggest games for the Blues all year. They dropped a three-goal lead last game and Jake Allen may be to blame for that but still. The Blues dropping last game to the Blackhawks at the point in the season makes this game way more exciting. This game will not come any easier for the Blues also. This will have playoff atmosphere to it for sure. These two have played three times and the Blues took the first two but dropped the most important one. Past records, this seasons records leading up to this point mean nothing. This is do or die for St. Louis and one of the sweetest times for the Blackhawks, the Blackhawks will come out flying and this arena should be packed. Going to make for an interesting one, tough choice but going Blues.

Dallas Stars(41-31-8) vs Anaheim Ducks(42-25-13)

The Stars would need to win out to make the playoffs I believe as they are four points out with two games to play but that means that Colorado and St. Louis would need to lose their next two games and Stars win their next two to be in. Very unlikely and difficult. The Ducks do come into this game off a win vs Minnesota that clinched their playoff spot.They have been red-hot lately and posting an 8-1-1 record in their last ten. The Stars are coming off two wins and a big one vs San Jose last game, but they are 3-5-2 in their last ten. The Stars are basically out, but let them keep dreaming. Do not see this team winning here today, going Ducks.


FREE NHL Picks: March 25, 2018

Philadelphia Flyers(38-25-12) vs Pittsburgh Penguins(42-27-6)

This game comes at a crucial time for both teams, as the Flyers and Penguins are nearly head to head right now in the standings, the playoffs are on the line and the season is coming to an end soon. The Flyers come into this game off a win vs the Rangers Thursday night, not a pretty one but the Flyers have done a fine job of securing some necessary points lately. As the Penguins come into this game off a win vs Montreal. These two teams are separated by one point, so essentially the Flyers win they take the Penguins spot. To this point, the Penguins have 7 games left in the season as the Flyers have six. This game is going to have all the intentions and likelihood of looking like a playoff game. The Penguins and Flyers have met three times prior to this, and the Penguins have won all three. The last two the Penguins have slotted 5 goals, beating the Flyers 5-1 and 5-2. The Flyers certainly have had difficulty with the Penguins this year and the last meeting of the year comes on Penguins home ice. With the Flyers confirming Alex Lyon will start, we can expect the Penguins to throw everything on this young goaltender. Lyon is 4-2-1, 2.49 GAA and .914 save percentage. This will be his second straight start. The Penguins will not have such an easy time like they have in the past with this team, this game is going to be a battle. A 12:30 p.m. (EST) puck drop on NBC, leaving us all entrained this Sunday afternoon. Today I am going Pittsburgh.

Nashville Predators(48-16-10) vs Winnipeg Jets(45-19-10)

The two top teams in the Central and the favorites to come out of the Western Conference for sure. The Predators and Jets have met four times prior to this game and this will be the final of the five-game series. On the year the series is tied 2-2, during this series Winnipeg has played on home ice just one time, in which they lost 6-5, to end the season series it now heads back to Winnipeg, for an absolute tilt. The Predators are coming into this game on a back to back, and a loss to Minnesota Saturday night and a loss to Toronto this week as well, currently on a two-game losing streak and 7-2-1 in their last ten. As Winnipeg, comes into this game on a days rest and a win over Anaheim Friday night, the Jets are 7-2-1 in their last ten, with a 28-7-2 home record. This game does not mean as much as we think it would in terms of standings and rankings but, with the history of these two this season and the way they have been playing, this game is going to be one of the toughest games to take tonight. The positive for the Jets is they may face Juuse Saros as Pekka Rinne got the start Saturday night, and Connor Hellebuyck gets the nod tonight for Winnipeg, their go-to this season. The Predators come into this game on a two-game skid, not looking too offensively driven the last few games and struggling a tad, going to be tough to see this team get knocked down three times in a row, but anything is possible going Jets.

Boston Bruins(46-17-10) vs Minnesota Wild(42-24-8)

The Bruins and Wild face off on NBCSN tonight at 7:30 p.m. which is going to make for another great NBCSN matchup and a great playoff type game. Unfortunately, the only way these two will meet in the playoffs is if they see each other in the Cup. The Wild and Bruins this season have only met one other time, that came 3.5 months ago, the Bruins won 5-3 in Boston, so it’s only fair the Wild get home ice advantage here. The Wild are coming off a huge home win over Nashville, but the back to back will be detrimental to them here. The Bruins come in off a days rest and a win over Dallas. Going to have to assume Tuukka Rask gets the nod here, but right now this does not mean so much for the Bruins as they are securely in a playoff spot not moving anytime soon. The Bruins come into this game 6-2-2 in their last ten with a 21-10-5 away record, and the Wild come in 6-3-1 in their last ten with a 25-6-7 home record. It is certainly going to be tough to knock off this Wild team on home ice but the back to back and Alex Stalock probably getting the start may be the reason the Bruins can take this. On the season Stalock is 10-10-2 in 26 starts with 2.79 goals against and .912 save percentage. Stalock will for sure have a busy night with this Bruins offense. Tonight, I am going to go Bruins here, tough choice but Wild are not going to be ready for this team’s relentless play.

Anaheim Ducks(38-24-13) vs Edmonton Oilers(34-36-5)

The Ducks can not take this game lightly the Oilers have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but as of late, they are on a three-game win streak and 7-2-1 in their last ten. The move of Ty Rattie next to Connor McDavid has been paying off dividends but the team woke up a tad too late. The Ducks come into this game 6-3-1 in their last ten and coming off an overtime loss to Winnipeg Friday night. The Ducks on the road have not been spectacular but at this point in the season with two points on the line and three teams battling for a playoff spot the Ducks need a big road win here tonight.I would expect John Gibson to get the nod tonight as he has started the six games, securing a win in four of them. When Gibson is healthy and the Ducks blue line is healthy this team is about as deep and scary as any team in the league. This game is tough because coming in against a hot team and a pissed off at that too is tough for Anaheim, we can expect to see catfight in this game with Edmonton not going down easy. But I am going Ducks here. 

Other game on tonight, did not feel wasting breathe on it, the Canucks vs Stars. Going to go Stars, who knows. 


FREE NHL Picks: March 14, 2018

Dallas Stars(38-26-6) vs Toronto Maple Leafs(40-22-7)

The Stars better wake up during this last stretch because with Colorado winning as of late and the Ducks, Flames right on their tail they are slowly looking like they could possibly drop out of a playoff spot. The Stars had a tough matchup vs Pittsburgh and things do not get easier here as they face off against another top Eastern Conference team. The Stars are 4-4-2 in their last ten and rely solely on three guys to get the job done, something that has been a crutch for them for quite some time. The Leafs are coming into this game playing mediocre hockey as of late, waiting for Matthews to come back. They are 5-3-2 in their last ten coming off a win vs Pittsburgh four days ago, therefore the Leafs are well rested and ready to go tonight. This will be a tough game for sure, we will see a pretty even game, back and forth, but in the end, I am going Toronto here.

San Jose Sharks(37-23-9) vs Edmonton Oilers(30-35-4)

Are the Sharks the sleeper team here going into the playoffs? I would have to say so, the acquisition of Evander Kane has panned out just like many thought it would, since coming to San Jose, Kane and his linemates have tallied 20 points in five games. The Sharks as a whole have been a really steady team, very solid and will not dominate most games but usually have control in most their games. They come into this game 5-4-1 in their last ten, off a win vs Detroit, they a bit well rested and their road play will be put to the test tonight. The Oilers, on the other hand, a disappointing season, to say the least, Connor McDavid has been the bright spot for this team all year and honestly the only player who actually looks like he wants to play most nights. The Oilers as a team are coming into this game on a three-game win streak though, with a 6-4-0 record in their last ten and a big win over Minnesota three days ago. Tonight will be a tough one, Oilers hot, Sharks looking to stay consistent into the playoffs. Tonight I am going Edmonton.

New Jersey Devils(35-26-8) vs Vegas Golden Knights(45-19-5)

Probably game of the night here, the Rangers vs Penguins are on NBCSN but the Rangers are not playing well and the Penguins are a clear choice here at home. Anyways sorry for getting sidetracked but to this game. The Devils are going to be battling for points for the rest of the season, they have a very tough slate of away games to close out the season and have already taken one of them recently but now head to Vegas, one of the best home teams in the league(24-7-2) and try to steal a point or two. The Devils come into this game 4-6-0 in their last ten, coming off a huge road win vs Nashville and look to continue that play vs a team they faced just one time this year. Vegas is coming into this game most likely knowing that they beat the Devils in New Jersey just ten days ago and they know the Devils will come out flying. Vegas has done a good job of taking road teams out of the game early this year, which is why they are os successful. Vegas is 6-3-1 in their last ten, on a three-game win streak coming off a road win vs Philly. I can’t see the Devils taking one on the road vs Nashville, one of the other best home teams and then going to Vegas and beating Vegas in Vegas. Tonight I am going to stick with the home team, hot hand and go Vegas.

Vancouver Canucks(25-36-9) vs Anaheim Ducks(34-24-12) 

If there is one game on the schedule for the rest of the year, where the Ducks MUST win it would be this game. They have fallen out of the playoff picture but just two points due to their terrible 4-2 loss vs St. Louis and dropping their last three games. They are 5-4-1 in their last ten and are really shooting themselves in the foot here. I would have to be very confident that the leadership group on this team is going to be livid if they drop this gimme game. The Ducks leaders like Getzlaf, Perry, Henrique, Fowler, Rakell will have to rally the troops and play some desperate hockey here tonight. The Ducks drop this one here tonight it is going to be an uphill battle for the rest of the year. Canucks are for sure coming into this game with the intention to play spoiler hockey they have dropped the first two matchups vs Anaheim already this season and have to face them one more time after tonight. The Canucks are 2-6-2 in their last ten, on a four-game losing streak, with a battered lineup. Tonight, the Ducks must win this game to stay relevant in the playoff picture. With two points on the line, playoffs on the line I am going Ducks.