Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 10/21/14
Nhl_2009_14ff

By Bill Whitehead

SUNRISE, Fla. -- With his club clinging to a 1-0 lead Sunday and a little over half a period away from climbing to within five points of a playoff position, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau couldn't help but cringe as one of his former players skated in on Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller with the possible tying goal.

Handling the puck was Florida's Tomas Fleischmann, a skillful winger Boudreau coached while behind the bench for the Washington Capitals. Hiller stood tall in the tense moment, though, watching Fleischmann's shot whistle in from the high slot and gloving it up near his shoulder, much like a first baseman snaring a hooking line drive destined for a double in the right-field corner.

"I know Fleisch too well, I was scared every time he touched the puck," admitted Boudreau. "He's just so shifty and knows holes and where to go. I think he's a great player."

Yet another leathery save on a glovely night for Hiller. And 11 minutes later when ex-Panther Niklas Hagman added an empty-net goal for a 2-0 win to improve Anaheim's record to 15-3-4 in this calendar year, the question had to be asked -- again. One more time, you know, just for the record.

Just who -- really, what is more like it -- are these Anaheim Ducks?

Like dead ducks in a pond after a morning shoot, the former foul fowl were floating face down, oh, six weeks ago in 2011. "Terrible" and "underachieving" weren't strong enough words to describe a team that was 9-21-6 yet had the talents of Hiller, Teemu Selanne, Bobby Ryan, Ryan
Getzlaf and Corey Perry, plus up-and-coming, smooth-skating defenseman Cam Fowler.

Anaheim's success since has ranked right up there with Detroit's and St. Louis's as of late, and Minnesota's in the first half of the season. The Ducks (25-24-10) entered Sunday's game with 32 standings points in the 2012 calendar year, tied for second with Nashville, while holding a +19 goal differential, also second (St. Louis, +25).

Much of the success of Anaheim -- playing its sixth of an eight-game road swing -- revolves around Hiller and Selanne.

Hiller braced himself and turned aside all 31 shots the Panthers fired on him, including some excellent scoring chances in the final 30 minutes, to record his 22nd win, third shutout this season and 14th of his career. The Swiss netminder is 13-2-4 in his last 19 games.

"He was phenomenal," said Boudreau, who ran his Anaheim coaching record to 18-11-6. "It's another where he won't get Player of the Week or one of the stars because it's Anaheim, but he's 3-0-1 with a 1.1 goals against average, all on the road. But that's my little spiel. I think him (getting a shutout) is fabulous. He's had the 1, 1, 1, then goes to a 2 and now to a zero. That's pretty good. He's held some good scoring teams to few goals, and he did a lot of it tonight on his own."

Anaheim's renaissance, not his individual achievement, was on Hiller's mind, saying, "Confidence) is the biggest difference now and two months ago. Now everybody's trusting each other and helping each other out. We're a team. Weeks ago, one line wasn't there or I wasn't there. Right now it seems like everybody's picking everybody up."

Selanne's 20th goal in the first period -- the 17th time he's scored 20 in a season -- proved to be the game-winner. After Bobby Ryan's shot was kicked aside by Florida goalie Jose Theodore, the 41-year-old Selanne cleaned it up to give Anaheim the early edge.

"It's amazing. (Teemu) still has the passion to play and enjoys coming to the rink every single day, always with a smile on his face. It brings the spirits up for the other guys, too, and he works hard," Hagman said.

"He's a wonder," Boudreau said with a slight smile. "He could've had a couple today. Florida's where older people come, right?"

Right now the Sunshine State's just another place where Selanne and the Ducks keep winning.

By Bill Whitehead
Florida Panthers Credentialed Correspondent/Hockey Columnist
Twitter: @BillWhiteheadFL
Email: BillWhiteheadFL@hotmail.com
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Details emerge from McDonald's domestic violence arrest

Eagles rookie receiver arriving early to practice in a taxi

Eric Berry 'doing well' after finishing cancer treatments

WATCH: Blatt has special message for LeBron

Shaq once threatened to murder Kobe Bryant

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Bryce Harper: Mike Trout is the best player in baseball

Report: Wilson skipped OTAs to attend funeral with Graham

Antonio Brown on contract: 'I've got enough' money

Kaepernick posts insensitive joke about Houston floods

50 Cent’s boxing company files for bankruptcy

Rangers-Lightning Game 6: Prediction for elimination game

Hawks radio announcer calls Dellavedova 'Tonya Harding'

FIFA officials arrested, to be extradited to US for corruption

WATCH: LeBron throws down huge dunk from inside FT line

Nick Saban says he caught 6-foot, 180-pound fish

WATCH: Vin Scully tells story about Gomes being attacked by wolf

WATCH: Kris Bryant launches home run off scoreboard

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Robinson Cano's slump: The good news, the bad news

Joe Maddon unhappy over Cubs’ ‘awkward schedule’

Buck Showalter takes shot at Marlins over management

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with 'serious misconduct' issues

Cavs' Kevin Love cleared to travel with team

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Cano's slump: The good news, bad news

Disappointments of the MLB season

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with misconduct issues

Long's great reaction to Bears releasing McDonald

Crazy stats from the NBA Playoffs

WATCH: Curry leaves game after nasty fall

Royals' Guthrie sets records in blowout

Bears cut McDonald after incident

Report: Pierce could opt out of contract

The Talented Mr. Blatt

Is Dellavedova a dirty player?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.