Among the catalysts in Anaheim’s run to the fourth seed in the Western Conference last season was the play of happy-go-luck defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky
|“After not scoring for two months, I looked in the air and said ‘Thank you God for the goal.’” Visnovsky said. “I had a couple of good shots in the games before. I hit three, four posts and I didn’t score the goals. Every hockey player feels much better if they score goals.” |
The Slovakia native poured in more goals (18) than any other defenseman in Ducks franchise history and finished with more points (68) than any other NHL blueliner that season. Both also represented career highs for Visnovsky, who would finish fourth in Norris Trophy voting.
Facing more than his share of obstacles during the 2011-12 season, he has seen those numbers drop to six goals and 27 points currently. Adding to his dismay has been the team’s decline, from one season ago, as the Ducks are nearing mathematical elimination from postseason contention.
“After two-three months, we started to play better,” Visnovsky said. “We looked like we had a chance to make the playoffs. We played a good month, month and a half. Then, we went down again.
“Every hockey player has one dream of winning the Stanley Cup. It’s not always possible because there are 30 teams in the NHL and only 16 play in the playoffs. It’s very frustrating for us right now. We know mathematically we are not out. But theoretically, we are out.”
Hurdles began to arise for Visnovsky near the end of last season, when he suffered injuries to both of his shoulders. He valiantly played through the pain in the playoffs with Anaheim and for Slovakia at the IIHF World Championships, which were held in his hometown of Bratislava.
His offseason training was completely altered though, as he instead had to focus on nursing his shoulders back to health. On the eve of training camp, he then had to deal with the tragedy of his good friend Pavol Demitra dying in the in the plane crash involving the Lokomotiv team of the KHL, which killed 43. He then missed 13 games in November and December with a broken finger on his right hand. Anaheim went 2-9-2 during his absence from the lineup.Ducks Approach Remaining Games Motivated
“I haven’t had a very good season,” Visnovsky said. “From last year, I come to training camp and had to change the summer programs. I couldn’t do anything with the shoulder. I feel all season was very tough. I lost a little bit of the skills. If I don’t play good with the puck, I don’t help our team. I know what the problem was this season. I have a little bit to think about for next season.”
|“From last year, I come to training camp and had to change the summer programs," Visnovsky said. "I couldn’t do anything with the shoulder. I feel all season was very tough. I lost a little bit of the skills. If I don’t play good with the puck, I don’t help our team. I know what the problem was this season. I have a little bit to think about for next season.” |
Recently he suffered through his longest goal-scoring drought (29 games) since joining the Ducks in a deadline day trade back in March 2010. Just like with everything else though, he fought through the adversity and continued to put his best foot forward night after night.
Down 3-1 to Boston in the third period on Sunday, his scoring touch burst back onto the scene in an instant. After a battle in front of the Boston net, the puck sprung out to a wide-open Visnovsky in the slot. He quickly fired a shot past goalie Marty Turco into the top left corner of the net. The goal put an end to the goal-less streak and got the Ducks within one of the lead, though they would ultimately fall 3-2.
“After not scoring for two months, I looked in the air and said ‘Thank you God for the goal.’” Visnovsky said (watch the goal
). “I had a couple of good shots in the games before. I hit three, four posts and I didn’t score the goals. Every hockey player feels much better if they score goals.”
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau was happy to see the 35-year-old finally rewarded for all his efforts. “It was good for him,” Bourdreau said. “I know he has been feeling really down about himself lately. It’s common. When you are used to do something, then all of the sudden it doesn’t happen for a while, you start to believe ‘Oh, have I lost it? Am I no good anymore?’ It was good for his confidence to get that one.”
With one year left on his contact, Visnovsky is hopeful he and the Ducks can bounce back next season. When both are performing well together, good things seem to happen like they did in 2010-11. “We have very talented guys here and a good team,” Visnovsky said. “I don’t know why it just didn’t work this season. If you want to think about the playoffs, you need a good start and play all season well.”