Is it possible the European Leagues are, after all this time, still underrated by NHL scouts? Jonathan Bernier (remember him?) was supposed to be the Kings’ goalie of the future, but he’s been in the minors since October. Meanwhile, Swedish goalie Erik Ersberg is playing out of his mind for the Kings, giving them the stability they’ve needed at the position all season. Of course, for the Kings, Ersberg has arrived about five months too late.
And then there’s Jonas Hiller.
Hopefully you caught Hiller’s 35 combined saves in regulation, overtime and shootout against the Kings, because a number of them were remarkable.
Some stats on Hiller: He’s got a 1.59 GAA and .948 save percentage in his last 10 starts. In his last seven, those numbers go to 1.42 and .957.
Some quotes on Hiller:
From Carlyle … “We felt that he was a goalie we could rely on. He’s just gaining more confidence in his ability to play at this level. He’s getting the recognition that is deserved of his performance.”
From Mathieu Schneider, describing Frolov’s steal and Hiller’s save at the end of regulation: “We set up for a one-timer. I kind of bobbled it. They were both coming toward me and made a good play. (Hiller) made an unebelievable save. It was one of the best saves I’ve ever seen in a long time. He was on tonight, that’s for sure, even in the shootout. They had to make a great move to beat him. He seemed for the most part unbeatable. He’s been the difference for us lately.”
With the Ducks officially in the playoffs, your WC playoff standings update:
1. Detroit: 51-20-6, 108 pts, 118 possible points, 5 games left (4 at home)
2. San Jose: 45-21-10, 100 points, 112 possible points, 6 games left (3 at home)
3. Minnesota: 41-28-9, 91 points, 99 possible points, 4 games left (3 at home)
4. Ducks: 44-26-8, 96 points, 104 possible points, 4 games left (3 at home)
5. Calgary: 40-27-10, 90 points, 100 possible points, 5 games left (1 at home)
6. Dallas: 42-29-5, 89 points, 99 possible points, 6 games left (2 at home)
7. Colorado: 41-31-6, 88 points, 96 possible points, 4 games left (2 at home)
8. Vancouver: 38-29-10, 86 points, 96 possible points, 5 games left (4 at home)
More interesting than the battle for the top four positions now is the battle for the bottom four. The Ducks could wind up playing any of those four teams, and it’s too early to call any of them the front-runner for that No. 5 seed.
Although the Ducks pulled two within four points of the Sharks with the shootout win, the Sharks have two games in hand on the Ducks and will make them up next week, when the Ducks have five days off. Just sit back and hope they blow it.