Wanted: A winning goalie with NHL experience. The skill to overcome a four game losing streak, and a .920 save percentage or higher preferred. The starting position is available immediately and will run on an as-needed basis. Demotion to back-up is expected.
The Tampa Bay Lightning responded to the Anaheim Ducks’ ad and in a trade for Curtis McElhinney, who was later pick up off waivers by the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim acquired Dan Ellis.
McElhinney took over for the Ducks All-Star goalie when Hiller had trouble recuperating from an injury. Hiller, who boasts a .925 save percentage and 26 wins, has been on the injured reserve since Feb. 3, suffering from fatigue and lightheadedness but what is now being considered vertigo.
Since taking over for Hiller, McElhinney and the Ducks have won only three of the last eight games and dropped to fifth in the Pacific Division and eleventh in the West, three spots out of playoff contention. The team that once stood as a powerhouse in the conference has severely faltered since losing their starting goalie. McElhinney proved to be less than worthy of the starting position.
Although the former Tampa Bay goalie took a loss in his first appearance on the ice for Anaheim, allowing an unlikely 50-foot goal, the Ducks can now bestow more confidence on this experienced net minder. Ellis made 22 saves off 24 shots for a .917 save percentage as the Ducks snapped a five game loosing streak, bettering the Avalanche 3-2.
Anaheim also recalled veteran goalie Ray Emery from the AHL to serve at Ellis’ backup. Emery went 16-11-1 in the 2009-2010 season with the Philadelphia Flyers, accruing a .905 save percentage.
With Hiller out for an undetermined amount of time, Ellis has the opportunity to find his rhythm in front of the Ducks’ nets. He will have to find that rhythm quickly though, as there are only 19 games left in the season and a highly coveted playoff spot on the line.
The Ducks aren’t quite out of hot water yet. Yes, Ellis is leaps and bounds better than McElhinney, but he is no Jonas Hiller. What was once the commanding force of Anaheim’s game is now its most questionable in a Western Conference race that is about as congested as the I-5 during rush hour.
Wanted: An immediate cure for vertigo.