Monday, 8 October 2007

The Ups And Downs

Hello! It's Monday, and I survived the weekend. It's too bad the Ducks didn't. What has happened to the Anaheim Ducks? The defending Stanley Cup Champions are having a myriad of problems in keeping the puck out of the net, and none of it has to do with Dustin Penner being gone. Ilya Bryzgalov has looked nothing like himself from last season, and youngster Jonas Hiller didn't fare very well against the Penguins. Is Jean-Sebastien Giguere the only player who can save the Ducks now?

Jonas Hiller has Anaheim's only win thus far this season, but is sporting a 3.03 GAA and an .885 save percentage. Anaheim won't get very far with those numbers unless coach Randy Carlyle can tighten up the defensive end of his system significantly. The man who is supposed to be the starter, Ilya Bryzgalov, is 0-2-1 this season, and has a 2.95 GAA and a save percentage of .909.

Anaheim has been anything but the dominant team they were last season. I would guess that with Scott Neidermayer and Teemu Selanne not filing their retirement papers as of yet that Brian Burke will be on the phone soon if this losing trend continues in California. Anaheim's breakout has been non-existant, and both Neidermayer and Selanne can help there. It would also help if Mathieu Schneider could return to play from injury.

As of right now, though, the Ducks have been lacklustre in most facets of their game.

The Opposite End: The defending Eastern Conference Champion Ottawa Senators continue to roll early on in this NHL season, going to 4-0 with their 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils this afternoon. Martin Gerber has been solid, and the "big three" of Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza have been clicking on all cylinders so far.

Ottawa is the odds-on favourite to win the Eastern Conference by most pundits, and they've not let anyone down so far. They have a big, mobile, tough defensive unit, and their fast, skilled forwards capitalize on mistakes. The Ottawa Senators look hungry thus far, and they might be the beast of the East as this season progresses.

Health Issues: Word out of Toronto today is a sombre one with the announcement that Jason Blake has Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, a rare form of the disease. It is an uncommon type of cancer of the blood cells, but it is "highly-treatable", according to Blake himself.

"'This morning I shared with my teammates news that I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia,' Blake said on the Maple Leafs' website.

"'It is highly-treatable, and I have begun taking a pill on a daily basis that has proven to be very effective in controlling this cancer. The prognosis, and certainly the expectations of my physician, myself and my family, is that I will live a long, full and normal life. This situation will not impact my ability to live my life as I otherwise would, and will not affect my ability to perform at my highest level for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I'm looking forward to my first season with the Leafs and helping our club compete for the Stanley Cup.'"

This is terrible news for the Blakes as Jason's wife, Lauren, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2001. She had a portion of her thyroid removed, and it was determined that the lump was not cancerous.

I wish Jason Blake and his family all the best, and my wishes and hopes go out to him in that he defeats this disease as soon as possible.

Call Him "Peter": Congratulations go out to Paul Stastny who is showing that he has the sophomore jump rather than the slump. After finishing second to Evgeni Malkin last season in the Calder Trophy voting for Rookie of the Year, Stastny has recorded eight points in three games. In fact, it's only two games since he was kept off the scoresheet against Nashville.

Stastny recorded a hat trick on opening night against Dallas, and the had a five point performace (1G, 4A) against the San Jose Sharks, including scoring the game-winner. He is tied for league-lead in goals, and leads the league in points so far. In fact, Dear Lord Stanley has figured out that Paul Stastny is on pace for a 219 point season. Hockey is part of the genetic code of the Stastny family.

Thanks for bearing with me while I went through the birthday and Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I'll be writing more often now. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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