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The Great Lubo

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com


“It just seems like every puck that he gets his hands on is going in the net right now,” Fowler said of Visnovsky. “It’s unbelievable. The great thing about that is he is so humble and quiet, you’d never know that he is tied for first in defensemen scoring."
Prominent defensemen have played for the Ducks throughout the franchise’s history, including some future Hall-of-Famers. But by the time this season is over, none of those blueliners may have had the campaign in an Anaheim uniform that Lubomir Visnovsky is stringing together in 2010-11.

Visnovsky continued his hot streak with two goals in last night’s 5-2 home win over the Rangers. That gave the 34-year-old five tallies in the last three games, which no Ducks defender has ever accomplished. He was also on the ice for each of those five goals, tying a team record with a plus-five rating on the night.

“He is so special,” Teemu Selanne said. “He has no weaknesses really. He can shoot the puck so well and can see the game. He’s the full package. It’s great to see him having success like that.”

That run of goals began last Friday against the Stars, when Visnovsky again performed a feat never been seen by an Anaheim blueliner, a hat trick. The last of those three goals was most memorable, as it came with 3.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Ducks a big 4-3 victory. It was also the second hat trick of his career, with the first coming on Nov. 2, 2005 while as a member of the Kings (also against Dallas).

“The last few games especially, Lubo has really been finding the back of the net,” Dan Ellis said. “The entire D core has been very solid. They skate very well, move the puck and are good communicators in the back end. It’s a fun group to play with.”

At the close of business last night, Visnovsky found himself tied for the NHL lead in scoring among defensemen (alongside Detroit’s  Nicklas Lidstrom and Phoenix’s Keith Yandle) with 54 points. Only one Ducks defenseman has ever finished a season atop that list, Scott Niedermayer in 2006-07 (with 69 points).

“I thought the All-Star Game nod that he didn’t get was a joke," Ryan said of Visnovsky. "He flies under the radar. He quietly goes about his business, comes in every day and is a threat. He’s just starting to hit his stride and pucks are going in for him."
“It just seems like every puck that he gets his hands on is going in the net right now,” Cam Fowler said. “It’s unbelievable. The great thing about that is he is so humble and quiet, you’d never know that he is tied for first in defensemen scoring. He’s a great guy to have around the locker room and always has a smile on his face.”

Putting up points from the blue line is nothing new for Visnovsky. An 11-year veteran, this is his fifth campaign scoring double digit goals and fourth year of year of at least 45 points. This season he has tallied both his 100th career goal (Dec. 31 vs. Philadelphia) and 400th career point (Feb. 16 vs. Washington).

The Slovak has several other franchise records for defensemen in his sights with 15 games left to be played in the season. With 14 goals now, Visnovsky is two goals away from Fredrik Olausson’s high of 16 in 1998-99. Fifteen more points would get him to that 69-point marker set by Niedermayer.

Whether Visnovsky can continue this torrid pace and reach those marks remains to be seen, but his superb year already should at least have him in the discussion to become the first Duck to win a Norris Trophy.

“I felt that way all year,” said Bobby Ryan on Visnovsky being among the league’s top defensemen.  “I thought the All-Star Game nod that he didn’t get was a joke. He flies under the radar. He quietly goes about his business, comes in every day and is a threat.

“Lubo has been among the top 3 or 4 defensemen in scoring all year. He’s just starting to hit his stride and pucks are going in for him. I think his name should certainly be mentioned in the top 3.”
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