In hockey, as most sports, the team willing to lay it all on the line is the one who is the most likely to walk away winners. This was the case for the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night.
Forced to play on their heels most of the time, the Phoenix Coyotes threw 83 total shot attempts Jonas Hiller’s way, with 44 connecting, 15 missing the net and 24 blocked by the Ducks skaters.
This continues the strong season the Ducks have had blocking shots, as they have blocked the third most shots in the league and average around 15 a game.
Such a commitment to keeping the puck away from their goaltender was one of the keys to their victory, all though it rarely comes without a cost. Mark Fistric had to leave the game briefly after blocking a shot, and Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Cogliano were both shaken up briefly after taking pucks near the hand.
The person in the best position to see the Ducks’ effort blocking shots, Hiller, certainly took notice -
Everybody battled hard, guys were blocking shots. That’s what’s needed to win.
Leading by example, as any captain should, was Ryan Getzlaf – who tied Ben Lovejoy and Emerson Etem for the team lead in blocks last night with four, and 12 players in total blocked at least one shot. It wasn’t just the defenseman laying their bodies down, but of the 12 that did block a shot – six were forwards, making it a total team effort.
As the season wears on, and the games get more and more important – skill will only get you so far and the willingness to lay your body out can make all the difference.
One thing for sure, is that the Ducks were going to need plenty of ice after that game – and there isn’t likely a player who isn’t looking forward to a day off after a the last two games before heading back on the road for a game against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.