Prospect Need to Know: Auston Matthews is ready for the worlds

Auston Matthews (Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The playoffs have certainly not disappointed at the prospect level so far. The Frozen Four had numerous overtimes and now the field is set for the final weekend, with North Dakota battling Denver and Boston College taking on Quinnipiac. In major junior, it’s been just as crazy, with big upsets and a couple other underdogs taking the favorites down to the wire – Kelowna finally iced Kamloops, while Barrie and Mississauga needed seven games to determine a winner. We’re also nearing the world under-18s in North Dakota, so look for more info on that in the near future. Here’s what’s going on in the world of prospects:

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Bad day for Ducks as Anaheim announces injuries to Perron, Andersen, Rakell and Lindholm

Jared Clinton
Frederik Andersen (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

It may be April Fools’ Day, but the Ducks’ injury situation heading into the weekend is no joke.

Anaheim announced Friday that the team will be without David Perron, Frederik Andersen, Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm for their contest against the Vancouver Canucks, and all but Lindholm should be expected to miss at least a few games’ worth of action.

In order of seriousness — or at least announced timeline — the injuries to Perron and Rakell are the worst, with uncertainty surrounding returns for Lindholm and Andersen. That said, Andersen may have the foggiest timeline for return, as the Ducks announced the 26-year-old netminder is sidelined with a concussion that was suffered Wednesday against the Calgary Flames. Read more

The Hockey News Podcast: Episode 10 — Patrick Sharp on his first year in Dallas; are the St. Louis Blues for real?

Patrick Sharp (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Welcome to Episode 10 of The Hockey News Podcast.

This week, we chat with Dallas Stars right winger Patrick Sharp to talk about his first season in Dallas, their playoff expectations, and how Tyler Seguin is stealing some of his thunder.

We also discuss whether the red-hot St. Louis Blues are for real; how teams should handle their goaltenders in the playoffs; if Phil Kessel really is the most overrate player in the NHL; and we take reader questions in the mailbag.

Download and subscribe on iTunes, and on Soundcloud.

[Music: Metz-Headache; Quicksand-Omission]

Ducks’ Khudobin heading to KHL after season stuck in the AHL

Jared Clinton
Anton Khudobin (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

The Ducks’ acquisition of Anton Khudobin in the off-season was a head-scratcher considering Anaheim boasted a reliable goaltending platoon in Frederik Andersen and John Gibson heading into the campaign.

Unsurprisingly, Khudobin, 29, has spent most of his campaign in the AHL and has only played eight games this season in the NHL. And considering his lack of playing time in the NHL — which comes after three full seasons as a backup netminder — it’s no surprise that Khudobin is looking at leaving North America after being mired in the AHL for the 2015-16 season.

Khudobin is in the final season of a two-year, $4.5-million deal that he signed back in 2014 while a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, but it appears all but a done deal that he’ll be suiting up in the KHL next season. Read more

Why teams with goalie platoons must commit to one guy for the playoffs

Matt Larkin
Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Frederik Andersen has an excellent poker face. Or he’s one affable, accommodating young man. Or both.

Because, if you try to grill him about his role in the Anaheim Ducks’ net and, more specifically, his platoon with John Gibson, Andersen won’t concede any frustration or trepidation. He says he likes how a timeshare with Gibson keeps both goalies regularly “hungry and rested.” Andersen believes having any lineup deep enough that it’s forced to sit out good players, not just in net but at every position, is clearly a contender. He doesn’t betray any notion that a 1A/1B goaltending split is a pain in the neck.

“It’s nothing I want to worry too much about,” Andersen said. It’s just, ‘Go out and play, and make sure to do my job, and good things will happen.’ I’ll stay focused on me.

“Everyone wants to play every night, but we’re both comfortable going back and forth.”

And, hey, the numbers suggest Andersen has a point. He’s 21-9-4 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .920 save percentage over 41 appearances. Gibson is 17-11-2 with a 2.13 GAA, a .917 SP and an All-Star Game appearance. Both men have flourished. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Brian Elliott and Jake Allen have combined for four consecutive shutouts. The Ducks and Blues sit comfortably in playoff positions. So do the Dallas Stars, who deploy Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen in a netminding tandem. We’ve seen plenty of teams over the years ride the hot hand in goal and excel in the regular season. Andersen seems to like feeling fresh and, in Dallas, signing Niemi to platoon with Lehtonen was a deliberate attempt by GM Jim Nill to manage the tough travel schedule with well-rested puck-stoppers.

But what happens to 1A/1B tandem teams in the post-season? Even if they settle at the last minute on a “starter,” does it pay to have him looking over his shoulder in Game 1, knowing one bad period could leave him benched for the start of Game 2? Jonathan Quick never has to worry about that in Los Angeles, nor does Henrik Lundqvist in New York. And the numbers suggest teams committed to one goalie for the full playoffs have a much stronger shot at winning the Cup.

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Ducks face ‘tough loss’ as Perron sidelined week-to-week with upper-body injury

Jared Clinton
David Perron (via NHL)

David Perron has been one of the best offensive weapons the Ducks have had since coming over in a mid-January trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Anaheim may be without the 27-year-old winger for at least a few games after he suffered what appeared to be a serious upper-body injury.

Perron was forechecking during Sunday’s tilt with the Jets when he clipped skates with Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele. Perron’s momentum caused him to fall forwards and topple into the boards with his shoulder taking the brunt of the impact. Immediately, Perron was writhing on the ice in pain before collecting himself off the ice, leaving his stick behind and heading straight to the visiting dressing room: Read more

Ducks GM Bob Murray deserves credit for one big move he didn’t make

Mike Brophy
Anaheim Ducks Announce Bruce Boudreau

When it comes time to select the NHL General Manager of the Year, here’s hoping the voters take into consideration a move that wasn’t made as opposed to the moves that were.

As in, Bob Murray not firing Bruce Boudreau.

It would have been so easy – so predictable – for the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks to fire the coach when the team waddled out of the gate this season.

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