A lot can happen in seven seconds — just ask the Anaheim Ducks.
Saturday night the Los Angeles Kings tied the first ever playoff series game against Anaheim with only seven seconds left in the game. One more blocked shot, one more zone clear, one more defensive move — it was all the Ducks needed to take a win in the series that has become just as much an issue of Southern California hockey pride as it has about winning the Stanley Cup.
But Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller didn’t stop the shot, nor did he stop the shot in overtime that lifted the Kings to a 3-2 game victory. And while it’s easy to remember the two game-changing shots Hiller let past him, unfortunately for fans it’s easier to forget the 33 he stopped.
After last night’s all out war (and it was a war) it became clear the “freeway face-off,” as this series has been penned throughout the NHL, will be won on the heels of stellar goal tending.
And while Kings netminder Jonathan Quick is the clear choice in net for Los Angeles, Anaheim’s is a bit of an uncertain story as back-up goalie Frederik Andersen started all six games for the Ducks in their series against the Dallas Stars. But now is Hiller’s time to shine; he played the type of season that earns him a bit more faith than most are willing to give him the day after a tough loss.
In fact, now is the time to rally behind the goalie who at times single-handedly pushed the Ducks through slippery season patches into their current success. Despite Saturday’s game, Hiller is the clear and correct choice in net for Anaheim during this series; Andersen doesn’t have the experience to back what Los Angeles is sure to throw into the Ducks’ zone over the course of the next week.
Hiller might not be the most consistent in big games, but Anaheim’s budding blue line can earn their playoff keep by making up for any given gaps. The Ducks’ number one goalie has proven time and time again he has the ability to do the rest. Because if Anaheim is going to survive this series, they will without doubt do so on the back of Jonas Hiller.