It’s been only three weeks since Teemu Selanne
ended his self-imposed exile and returned to the Anaheim Ducks
’ lineup. But what a difference 21 days and 10 games can make.
Since Selanne’s third coming arrived in Anaheim, the Ducks have lost only once. Sunday night at Honda Center, Selanne had a hat trick and picked up a pair of assists as the Ducks defeated Chicago, 6-3. Selanne now has six goals and 11 points in 10 games this season. More importantly, the defending Stanley Cup champs are now 16-6-2 in their last 24 games.
“This is a good confidence boost,” Selanne said of his five-point performance against the Blackhawks, noting that he’s feeling more at home with each game. “The last week or so, I’ve felt great. My legs are back, my body’s back. It’s fun to skate. Every stride is enjoyable.”
The presence of Selanne has given the Ducks a jolt, just as the return of defenseman Scott Niedermayer did when he rejoined the team before Christmas.
Still, the club’s biggest boost is coming from a player who has been with the team all season long. Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been on a hot streak lately, posting a 7-1-1 record with 1.31 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in his last nine starts. Giguere has 28 wins to rank fourth in the League. His .919 save percentage is good for seventh and his 2.21 GAA is eighth among the League leaders.
The Ducks’ recent surge, coupled with Selanne’s scoring binge, makes the notion of standing pat at the trade deadline more palatable. Anaheim had shown interest in both Mats Sundin and Olli Jokinen, but the former’s refusal to approve a trade and the latter’s hefty contract mean Anaheim GM Brian Burke might not be able to pull off a deadline-beating blockbuster.
The return of Selanne might be the only addition the Ducks need to make a run at back-to-back Cups. With his three goals Sunday, Selanne now has 546 goals and has moved past Maurice Richard (544) and is now No. 25 on the League’s all-time scoring list. His five points Sunday night tied a franchise record.
Playoff Push -- The Coyotes have won four of their last six games as they attempt to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Phoenix began the week in ninth place, just three points out of the final playoff position in the Western Conference, with a game in hand on eighth-place Nashville.
Coyotes Coach Wayne Gretzky said his team is playing with urgency.
“Every game we play is imperative,” Gretzky told The Arizona Republic. “We can’t afford to be giving points away, especially at home. We’re down to the final quarter here and every night is important. Other teams are thinking the same way. We’ve got out work cut out for us.”
Trade bait -- Rumblings out of San Jose suggest that while the Sharks would like to unload captain Patrick Marleau before Tuesday’s trade deadline, a deal is unlikely.
The proliferation of no-trade clauses around the League has been the chief obstacle in making a deal for Marleau. If Marleau, whose minus-21 plus/minus rating ranks 809th in the League, is still in a Sharks uniform after the deadline, trading him only figures to get tougher during the summer: Marleau has a no-trade clause that will take effect in June.
With just 10 goals and 29 points in 58 games this season, the 28-year-old Marleau is on pace for 13 goals and 38 points, his worst output since his rookie campaign when he had 13 goals and 38 points.
San Jose GM Doug Wilson says he might not make any deals -- involving Marleau or otherwise -- before the deadline.
“As Brian Burke aptly said, there’s more mistakes made at this time than any other time of the year,” Wilson told The San Jose Mercury News. “There’s a lot of truth to that. Emotion runs the day. People look back and say, ‘What was I thinking?’”
Around the Pacific -- Dallas defenseman Mattias Nortsrom scored his first goal as a Star in a 3-2 loss to Calgary last week. The defensive-minded Norstrom finally scored in Game No. 62 in a Stars uniform. … Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky picked up win No. 100 as an NHL coach when the Coyotes beat the Kings, 4-0, Feb. 24 in Los Angeles. “I don’t really worry about that kind of stuff,” said Gretzky, who has presumably reached enough milestones already. The Coyotes are 6-0 against the Kings this season, outscoring Los Angeles, 21-7. Phoenix is 22-0-0 when scoring four-or-more goals this season. … Philippe Boucher, sidelined since December with a shoulder injury, has been reactivated by the Stars. … Kings defenseman Rob Blake is skating again after suffering an ankle injury. Blake could return to the lineup Thursday in Edmonton. … Sergei Zubov of the Stars underwent surgery to repair a foot fracture and is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks. Zubov has already missed 37 games due to the injury. ... When the Kings claimed Matt Ellis on waivers from Detroit, the center went from the team with the League’s best record to the one with the NHL’s worst. Give Ellis credit for finding a way to remain upbeat. “There was a lot of packing, a lot of travel,” Ellis told The Los Angeles Daily News, “but all those emotions were overcome by excitement to come here, contribute and get a fresh start.”
Who’s hot? -- Mike Cammalleri of the Kings has six points (five assists) in his last two games, while Patrick O’Sullivan has two goals and four assists during the same span. … Anze Kopitar meanwhile, has two goals and three assists in two games. … Brenden Morrow of Dallas has six points (four assists) in his last two games. …The Stars’ Mike Ribeiro has four points in two games. … Ed Jovanovski of Dallas has picked up six points (four assists) in four games.
The week ahead -- The Ducks have won nine of 10 games and will not play again until Friday when they host Calgary. First-place Dallas visits Nashville Tuesday before hosting the Blackhawks and Predators. Los Angeles begins a four-game road trip with a Thursday game at Edmonton, followed by a Saturday stop in Colorado and a Sunday game in Minnesota. The Kings wrap up the road trip at St. Louis on March 4.
The Coyotes are at Chicago on Wednesday and St. Louis on Thursday before hosting Calgary on Saturday. San Jose concludes an eight-game road trip by visiting Columbus Wednesday, Detroit on Friday and St. Louis the following evening. After dropping the first two games of the trip, San Jose has won two in a row.