James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Hiller enjoys the view

Thursday, March 21, 2013


It’s hard not to giggle a bit when someone prattles on about “East Coast bias,” but not for the reason you might expect. The complaints aren’t amusing because they’re wrong; instead, they’re kinda funny because they’re right yet wrong-minded at the same point.

 

By my account, it’s not all about “West Coast bias.” Instead, it really comes down to human nature.

 

Simply put, if you work, take care of children or really do anything half-productive before a typical NHL schedule begins at the 7 or 7:30 p.m. ET mark each day, it’s kind of tough to maintain the same amount of energy and attention for a late game that stretches to around 1 a.m.

 

If you ask me, “East Coast bias” should actually be called “reasonable human sleep expectations.” Sorry, people in California, there isn’t a conspiracy against your teams … there just isn’t enough caffeine to keep every soul awake to properly judge your squads to the ones who end their games close to the time you start your contests.

 

KING OF THE HILLER

 

Luckily, that sleep-eyed stuff affects some of us a little less than others, so I was able to pick up on something last night: the Anaheim Ducks’ No. 1 job is Jonas Hiller’s again. At least for the time being.

 

The evidence is pretty undeniable at this point. The Ducks have played 11 (mostly successful) games in March. Hiller has played in eight of them while once-red-hot usurper-in-training* Viktor Fasth cleaned up the remaining three starts.

 

On one hand, it’s a great story. Hiller has overcome a lot over the last couple years, particularly the vertigo-like problems from before. It would have been easy for him to pout when early struggles, Fasth’s impressive start and injuries caused him issues.

 

FASTH BECOMING IRRELEVANT

 

Still, as heartwarming a story as Hiller’s resiliency can be, it’s a bummer for Fasth.

 

I mean, sure, one can hold back a few tears because he received a nice payout, but still … it’s not like the 30-year-old “rookie” has fallen off the map since signing a two-year, $5.8 million extension. He’s gone 3-1-1 after that 8-0-0 start while his overall stats remain stellar (.927 save percentage and 2.00 GAA).

 

Fair or not, it’s clear that Hiller’s running with the renewed opportunity to be the just-about unquestioned starter. Holding strong enough for the Ducks to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in a showdown between the top teams in the West (and probably the NHL) won’t hurt Hiller’s cause (or help Fasth get back in the net much more), either.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite possible that the pendulum might swing back the other way this season. Still, I cannot help but hope that you sold high on the Swedish backup Fasth.

 

Jump for some thoughts on Wednesday’s games.

 

* Hyphens are the best.


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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien



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