Studs and Duds: 2/20/13
With B0ndon out of the Studs and Duds lineup with work-like symptoms, I'll be covering all of the action that took place on (and off) the ice on February 20, 2013:
3) "Cartering" To his Team
It might be a short stint, but it looks as if Jeff Carter has broken out of his shell in SoCal, and begun producing for the defending Cup champions. The Kings, who have been remarkably mediocre through 14 games this season, played an injury-ridden and offensively challenged Calgary Flames team in a must-win game for Los Angeles. Jeff Carter was the difference maker, scoring 1 goal, adding 1 assist and multiple shots on goal to lead the Kings to a 3-1 victory. If Carter can begin to produce like this on a regular basis, the Kings will quickly rediscover the offence that was present in the 2012 playoffs.
2) "Semyon" a Message to Opponents
The most lifeless game gets the most lifeless writeup. Varlamov saved all 33 shots he faced in a "thrilling" 1-0 overtime victory over the Blues. He's very good and he was the only reason why the Avalanche won, let alone walk away with points. Every game he plays the Varly trade made by Greg Sherman looks less and less stupid.
1) People Who Watched Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia
Very rarely can the "Stud" of the night be awarded to multiple people, none of which that actually were involved in the hockey game (or let alone any hockey games). But on Wednesday, anybody that caught more than 20 seconds of the battle of Pennsylvania at the CONSOL Energy Centre were the big winners of the night. The game, which was televised nationally for all to see, had huge expectations following one of the grittiest, fast-paced, and defensively inept playoff matchups of the 21st century. With such hype, it seemed destined to let everybody down, when in actuality it did not. The game was filled with points where it seemed as if the game would get away and the other team came right on back. There was chippy play with one notable fight and tons of powerplay opportunities. Pittsburgh tied it up late. Voracek recorded a hattrick by potting home the game winner just minutes later (which was not entirely due to his effort, please refer to dud #2 for why). In the end, the game was indicative of the entire rivalry between these two teams. No defense was played, goals were scored by the superstars we know and love, and the game came right down to the wire. It doesn't matter if you cheered for the Flyers, Rangers, Devils, or Coyotes, that game was one of the best of the year. And for that, we the fans are the true winners of the night.
3) It is Hiller Who Must Move On
Today was not the best day ever for Jonas Hiller. In fact, the season couldn't have gone much worse for him one-third of the way in either. Following fellow Anaheim goaltender Viktor Fasth's 8-0-0 start, the Ducks quickly re-signed him to a 2 year, 5.8MM extension. Now, the Ducks have 2 competent goaltenders with John Gibson on the way, with Hiller as the most expensive choice. If Fasth keeps up his stellar play, it is quite possible that Hiller could, unfortunately for him, be sent packing from the Golden State. And for that reason he is our third Dud of the day.
2) Re"Vokoun"ing the Victory
Thought that Marc-Andre Fleury riding the pine was going to give Pittsburgh stability in the blue paint against the Philadelphia Flyers? If so, you thought wrong. Thomas Vokoun was Fleury-esque in his play against the Orange in Black, letting in 6 goals for a 813 sv%. If that wasn't bad enough, his last goal allowed to give Jakub Voracek the hat trick and Philly the win was horrid, scoring from an angle that may not be physically possible to score from. In their next meeting against the Flyers, the Penguins might need to resort to calling Jocelyn Thibault out of retirement, because clearly neither of their two current goaltenders know how to get the job done against the Broad Street Bullies.
1) A Ruff Day for Lindy
What transpired in the Buffalo Sabres' organization today was no joke. After 16 years, over 1000 games, and over 500 wins behind the Buffalo bench, long time head coach Lindy Ruff was fired. This firing is quite odd for people to digest. Logistically this makes complete sense. The Sabres have been awful through 17 games and a change was needed for the hockey club. From a somewhat irrational view, the firing of Lindy Ruff is almost unfathomable. He had been the head coach in Buffalo for their entire modern history. From the Brett Hull goal to the Ryan Miller era, Ruff had seen it all in Buffalo. The man started coaching the Sabres literally before I was even able to talk. The fact that he was fired is likely a good thing, as it begins a new era in the Buffalo Sabres' history, perhaps one where mediocrity will not be tolerated. However, this signifies the end of the "for-lifer" coach, and that nobody's coaching job (save for Barry Trotz, at least for now) can be guaranteed for any amount of time. Lindy will likely have a new job soon, but he earns the dud of the day for being kicked out of the job and city he truly loved.