The Anaheim Ducks hope what they did off the ice over weekend will pay dividends on the ice for the rest of the season.
After extending the contract of one goaltender and trading another netminder who’s a former playoff MVP, the Ducks look to conclude their longest road trip of the season with a second straight victory Monday night against the surging Florida Panthers.
Five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a month until the trade deadline, the Ducks couldn’t wait to shake things up.
One day after signing Jonas Hiller(notes) to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth $18 million, Anaheim (25-23-7) traded 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs MVP Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes) to Toronto on Sunday for 36-year-old winger Jason Blake(notes) and goaltender Vesa Toskala(notes).
Thanks to his own strong play and an early-season groin injury to Giguere, Hiller took over the No. 1 job, leaving the high-priced Giguere expendable.
“Jonas has proved himself as a starting NHL goaltender,” general manager Bob Murray said of the third-year pro, who’s 21-15-2 with a 2.75 goals-against average. “We expect him to only get better.”
Giguere posted 206 wins and a 2.47 GAA in 447 career games for Anaheim, helping the Ducks win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2007.
“J.S. is as classy and professional as they come,” Murray told the Ducks’ official Web site. “On behalf of the organization, we thank him for his tremendous contributions to the franchise.”
Toskala, 7-12-3 with a career-worst 3.66 GAA this season, is expected to backup Hiller, who made 30 saves in the Ducks’ 2-1 shootout win at Tampa Bay on Friday.
Now joining his fourth team, Blake had 10 goals and 16 assists in 56 games this season for Toronto, but only one point in his last 14 contests. The Ducks hope the change of scenery will help Blake provide a spark for a club that’s totaled seven regulation goals during a 2-3-0 road trip.
Defenseman James Wisniewski(notes) scored his third goal of the season and added the winner in the shootout as Anaheim avoided a third consecutive loss Friday. Ryan Getzlaf(notes) added his team-leading 37th assist.
“You want to be back as soon as you can, but it’s hard to tell when you’re ready,” said Selanne, who has 16 goals in 30 games this season, and 10 in 17 career contests against Florida.
The Ducks’ quest to conclude their trip with a .500 record won’t be easy against the Panthers (24-22-9), who are trying to extend their home winning streak to a franchise-high six games.
Tomas Vokoun(notes) is likely to be back in net after stopping 33 shots in a 2-0 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday. It was his fourth shutout in January, and career-high seventh of the season.
“We played pretty well and we got the two points, so that’s all you can ask for,” said Vokoun, who has three shutouts and has allowed three goals on 165 shots during Florida’s five-game home winning streak.
Vokoun is 6-3-0 with a tie and a 2.05 GAA at home against Anaheim in his career.
David Booth(notes) had an assist Sunday in his first game back after missing three months due to the effects of a concussion. Florida’s leading goal scorer last season, Booth has three goals and one assist in two career games against Anaheim.
The Ducks won 5-4 in their last visit to Florida on Dec. 12, 2006, but the Panthers earned a 3-1 victory at Anaheim on Nov. 9, 2008.