While practicing his duties as a waiter for the Mighty Ducks' Cystic Fibrosis Foundation "Dux In Tux" benefit that was held Friday night, Giguere had an unfortunate case of butter fingers.
But he sure hasn't been dropping many pucks lately.
After a 1-4-1 start, the 25-year-old Montreal native has gone 11-6-3 to get his season record to a respectable 12-10-4. He has a 2.22 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage this season, after posting a 2.13 GAA and .920 save pct. last year, each good for fifth in the NHL in 2001-02.
Giguere has posted three consecutive shutouts and broke Guy Hebert's franchise record scoreless streak in Sunday's 5-0 victory over Pittsburgh, extending his mark to 200:15. Giguere has gone 5-1-1 with a 1.27 GAA and a .945 save percentage in his past seven games.
Thanks in large part to his stellar netminding, the Ducks are 13-9-6-3, the first time since Dec. 27, 1999 the team has been four games above .500. Last year at this point, the Ducks had just 23 points with a 9-17-4-1 record. They didn't get their 35th point until the 46th game of the season, on Jan. 11.
"He struggled out of the gate, but he's really come on and has settled down," head coach Mike Babcock said. "I know Gigger real well because I've had him two other times before [in world junior tryouts and in Cincinnati]. So I've seen him play a ton."
"He stays square to the shooter, he's very competitive and he doesn't have holes."
Opponents haven't been able to find any holes for the past three-plus games.
Giguere will next put his shutout streak, and Anaheim's seven-game home unbeaten streak, on the line Wednesday against St. Louis, before making the 30-mile trip to downtown L.A. on Thursday to meet the Kings.
"It's just December but it's fun because last year by this time we were done," Giguere said. "There was pretty much no way we were going to go back into the playoff run. It makes it interesting now, because every game is very important."
The success of a certain monkey and angelic bunch on the baseball diamond across the street in Anaheim didn't go unnoticed by their Disney ice brethren.
"I guess it gave us a little bit of hope," Giguere said. "The owners are involved now and they want us to have success. The fans never believed before, and maybe the players never did, either. Now we know that the owners want to win and that they are going to do whatever possible to win.
"I think any team could use the Angels as an example. I don't think they were recognized around the league as being a great team, but they came together as a team and ended up being the best in the league. So I think anybody can use them for motivation, especially us being so close to them."
The Hartford Whalers made Giguere the 13th player selected in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. Fellow Quebec natives Martin Biron, Marc Denis, Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Sebastien Charpentier were also chosen in that draft. And like most of the young goalies from that province, Giguere patterns his butterfly style after that of his idol, Patrick Roy. But the modest Giguere doesn't have visions of Vezinas dancing in his head.
"My goal in life is just to reach my full potential," Giguere said. "I don't know when that is going to happen. This year I just want to play as good as I can every night, and we'll see what the final result is going to be."
The scriptwriters over at Disney have been known to come up with some storybook endings, and Giguere has one of his own to cap the Ducks' dream season.
"The rest of the season would have us make the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup. That would be a great Disney ending."
Calgary Flames' coaching search Kevin Constantine, Ron Low, Ted Nolan and Darryl Sutter want the job. Scotty Bowman, Jim Playfair, Tom Renney and Larry Robinson don't want it. The Flames don't want Low, but Constantine, Nolan and Sutter could still be in the mix, as could Playfair if Calgary plays fair and makes him a better offer. Confused? Apparently so is Flames president Ken King, who lashed out by saying the team's search process has been "terribly obscured by rumors, innuendo and possibly even leaks from within our organization." Playfair reportedly refused to take the job without the security of a multi-year deal, not wanting to accept a low salary and short-term contract like Greg Gilbert had. The apparent power struggle between general manager Craig Button and King isn't making things easier, since Button's contract runs out June 30, clouding his future. Nolan was the fan favorite, winning a poll conducted by a local paper in Calgary. Will the Flames choose him in an effort to reach out to their fans? Or will they go against the grain and opt for someone else? Stay tuned, as Cowtown's best soap opera heads into its second week.
Amazing individual efforts NHL players perform feats on a nightly basis that would cause most of us to injure ourselves if we even attempted to duplicate them. But over the past week, four spectacular moves gained special notice. Chicago's Alexei Zhamnov beat Buffalo's Martin Biron with a one-handed penalty-shot on Friday night. And it wasn't the first time he was successful with the move. Zhamnov beat Manny Legace and Grant Fuhr in the past with similar deception. The most famous example of this maneuver was Peter Forsberg's goal-medal winning goal on Corey Hirsch in the 1994 Winter Olympics, which was memorialized on a postage stamp in Sweden. Kent Nilsson, Shjon Podein and Jeremy Roenick have all used this one-handed wizardry in the past, too, but Zhamnov seems to be making the move his trademark on the breakaway. Elsewhere, the Avalanche haven't had a lot to cheer about offensively, but Eric Messier's 3-on-5 short-handed goal Friday in Edmonton was noteworthy. A shorty on a two-man disadvantage is about as rare as a no-hitter in baseball. Not quite as rare, but jaw-dropping nontheless, was Owen Nolan's weaving rush, nifty head fake to freeze Pens goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin on the near post, and snappy wrister to the far post for a goal on Thursday in San Jose. And finally, Biron was victimized again Tuesday by Marian Hossa's dispy-do stickwork. Hossa put the puck between Brian Campbell's legs to give himself a breakaway, which he buried by beating Biron's poke-check attempt with a high shot.
Montreal @ Ottawa -- Monday, 7 p.m. EST This fun Northeast Division matchup shapes up as a battle between the offensively gifted Senators and the defensively impaired Canadiens. Ottawa's Marian Hossa is tied for second with 19 goals, while Montreal is surrendering 3.2 goals per game. The Sens will have their four-game win streak on the line, in addition to their eight-game home win streak at the Corel Centre.
Dallas @ Detroit -- Thursday, 8 p.m. EST The Stars hold a two-point lead on the Red Wings for the top spot in the Western Conference, with the Canucks sandwiched in between and the Wild tied with the Wings. Talk about tight at the top. Detroit, Dallas and Colorado are the only three teams to represent the West in the finals during the past eight years, so this Hockeytown throwdown could be a preview of the conference finals.
Dallas @ New Jersey -- Saturday, 1 p.m. EST Jason Arnott scored 97 goals in 302 games with the Devils, centering the "A Line" with Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora that led New Jersey to the 2000 Stanley Cup and the 2001 finals. Since his trade to Dallas, Arnott has 11 goals in 32 games, which while not spectacular, is a heck of a lot better than the four goals Joe Nieuwendyk has scored in 41 games with the Devils.
Edmonton @ Vancouver -- Saturday, 10 p.m. EST It was so exciting this past weekend, let's do it again for a second straight Saturday night. Tommy Salo got victimized by an impressive power-play barrage by the Canucks in a 6-3 loss in Edmonton, but an attempt at redemption comes just 168 hours later. This game is the second of three in 12 days between these Northwest Division rivals. After watching tempers flare often in the first meeting, the second tilt (a full national broadcast in Canada on Hockey Night in Canada) should be worth watching.
Plus: Markus Naslund A four-goal game on Saturday in Edmonton jumped Naslund into the scoring lead with 20 goals. While his wrist shot is among the top five in the game, his stick never left the ice for any of his quartet of tap-in and one-time tallies against the Oilers. The Canucks' captain leads the league with 12 power-play goals, giving him 59 goals on the man-advantage in the past 345 games.
Minus: Mike Richter The Rangers' starting netminder is out for the season with post-concussion syndrome, and the injury suffered on Nov. 5 could end his career. Richter hasn't been able to shake the symptoms since being kneed in the head by Edmonton's Todd Marchant. With a 301-258-73 career record, Richter will go down as one of the best American goaltenders ever. It would just be a shame to have his career end prematurely due to injury.
Plus: Ron Wilson The Sharks are 3-1 with their new head coach behind the bench. Evgeni Nabokov has been especially helped by the rejuvenated team defensive effort, allowing just two goals on 58 shots in the past two games. Wilson picked San Jose to win the Cup in the preseason while moonlighting as an analyst for TSN, and then reiterated that prediction after taking the job. If the first 10 days are any indication, that statement might not be as wacky as it looked initially.
Minus: Alex Tanguay Since scoring the Cup-winning goal in 2001, Tanguay hasn't been the same player. He has just three goals and six assists in 30 games this season, but has gone 15 games without scoring a goal. Not coincidentally, the scoring funk began when his name started coming up in trade rumors. The underachieving Avs need to get Tanguay and Steve Reinprecht contributing offensively to get back into playoff position in the deep Western Conference.
Plus: Theo Fleury Other than sobriety and a slightly mellowed demeanor, not much has changed with Fleury. With three goals in his first five games back, Fleury has his offensive game going like he did early last year with the Rangers. And with the Islanders fans giving him the business on Tuesday and evoking many fun gestures and facial contortions from him, Fleury must've felt like everything was back to normal last week.
Minus: John Grahame After his personal nine-game unbeaten was snapped by Montreal on Tuesday, Grahame lost his second straight game, again to the archrival Habs, on Saturday. The Bruins' goalie slammed his stick on the crossbar after Montreal's fourth goal and got a roughing penalty less than a minute later for popping Randy McKay with his blocker after losing his stick.
"Being off eight months, it feels good getting a lot of work right away. I was seeing the puck well and shots were getting through. I cannot expect to have this all the time from this team. We are too good defensively."
-- Blues goaltender Brent Johnson, after shutting out the Thrashers with 32 saves on Saturday in his second game back.
"We played terrible tonight. We were a tired hockey team and they came out in the first period with a lot of jump. We weren't able to recover."
-- Wild right wing Andrew Brunette, after Northwest-leading Minnesota lost 3-1 to Nashville, mired in last in the Central Division, on Saturday.
"It's hard to find any reason for Lank's [Daymond Langkow] goal not to count, but it's not in our control. In the last couple of games we've had a few goals called back, and that's frustrating."
-- Coyotes left wing Shane Doan, after having two goals, including one by Langkow, disallowed in a 4-3 loss to the Capitals on Friday.
"The ovation was a surprise, but they've got great fans here. It's my hometown and I had a lot of people here, so I'm glad I could get it over with for them."
-- Avalanche center Joe Sakic, a native of suburban Burnaby, British Columbia, after scoring his 500th career goal in Vancouver on Wednesday.
Vaclav Nedorost, C, Avalanche After scoring a goal in his NHL debut on opening night of the 2001-02 regular season, Nedorost scored just once more in 24 games before getting sent down to AHL Hershey. Colorado opened the season playing him on its top line with Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk, but eventually realized that Nedorost needed time to adjust to the North American game. In 49 games with Hershey, the two-way center had 12 goals and 22 assists.
In 26 games this season, Nedorost has four goals and four assists while playing 10:16 a night. His plus-6 is tied for eighth-best among rookies. The Avs project him to be a second-line center, but as long as Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg are still there, he is likely to jump around on lines and see fill-in time at wing, as well. Nedorost's game is similar to Forsberg's in the sense that he is strong on the puck and can battle in the corners, but he doesn't have Forsberg's vision and ability to involve his teammates after making a great individual play against a defenseman.
Calgary's winning percentage (2-8-3) when outshooting its opponent.
Maple Leafs' record in their past 11 games at the Air Canada Centre, where they started the season 2-6-1.
League-worst penalty-kill percentage by the Colorado Avalanche, who have allowed 33 goals in 145 short-handed situations.
Our latest best guess at what the postseason seeding will look like.
Detroit Red Wings
New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs
St. Louis Blues
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Tampa Bay Lightning
Each week during the season, this space will be devoted to your comments on a particular issue.
Last week's topic: Which old-time player would still excel in today's game?
Bobby Orr would be even greater than before with no clutching and grabbing, no nuts trying to take your head off during games and no brawls anymore. He would be flying around playing five positions a shift and get three points a game, guaranteed. Scott Leger, Vermont
Wayne Gretzky. Even at this age, if he was still playing with the new rules in effect, he would make what Mario Lemieux is doing look pedestrian. Chip, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Terry Sawchuk rewrote the books, and his record of 101 shutouts will last longer than most people think. He would have changed with the times as needed. Jeff Mckenzie, Detroit
With the crackdown on the obstruction rule, Bobby Clarke would be able to fly all over the ice like he did in the 70's. He closely resembles a player like Simon Gagne or Paul Kariya. Couple that with his ability to score and set up people, and I think that he would still be able to play well. Maybe the Flyers should get him some skates. They need the goals. Greg Dodd, Atlanta
I think that Maurice Richard would still dominate the league as he did back in his day. In fac,t I would be willing to bet that with the extended season he could score 100 goals. His skill and determination were what set the Rocket apart from the rest. He would dominate today even with the emphasis on defensive hockey. Adam Thompson, Shaunavon, Saskatchewan
Jean Beliveau was big, strong, skillful, a natural goal scorer, an excellent skater and a wonderful playmaker. He was a leader on and off the ice, and he was well respected by his teammates and his opponents. He was one of the original "power forwards." A classy guy in every sense of the word. Oh how I wish he were playing today! Neil H. Zach, Montreal, Quebec
Without a doubt, Bobby Hull. All those years of having players like Bryan Watson hanging all over him as he sought to get himself free for a pass and a shot at the net would be gone. Imagine Hull coming into the offensive zone unmolested, with a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye, salivating at the chance to get a clean shot away. Oh, how the thought stirs this baby-boomer's heart to see that happen. Steve Wilson, Sexsmith, Alberta
Definitely Maple Leafs/Sabres defensemen Tim Horton. This guy left more than a donut legacy, he had incredible size during the 60s and 70s and he played right into his 40s. This guy was feared because of his endurance and agility. James, Montreal
Gordie Howe would be the ultimate power forward in this or any era. Today he'd be free to skate, bang in the corners or take the head off anyone who tried to intimidate a teammate. Gretzky was the greatest offensive player in the history of the game, but Howe was the total package at both ends of the ice. He'd be a one man wrecking crew today. Engin Suvak, Uniondale, N.Y.
The one old-time hockey player that could excel in today's game is Maurice Richard. Although he was small by today's standards, his grit, determination and fire would be more than enough to compensate. In fact, I think the more people that told him he could not play, the better he would perform. Being a Leaf fan, Richard was a nasty guy, one that was easy to hate. The current Canadiens roster doesn't have enough people like that. Andrew Gilchrist, Burlington, Ontario
Imagine what Guy Lafleur could do now. Pavel Bure would be passe when those locks of hair flew by. John Trottier, Vancouver, British Columbia
Dave "The Hammer" Shultz and Stan Jonathan. If the NHL wants fans and interests, bring backthe tough guys. There are too many injuries in the NHL now. These guys would keep the injuries to a minimum. Just look at the press the Maple Leaf/Islanders game
received. Tickets were selling for $250 a piece to see some old-time hockey. John Murphy, South Boston, Mass.
Cam Neely could fly with the Oilers of the 80s and pound through a German Panzer division. He never whined like Ms. Lemieux does about obstruction, more like took matters in his own fists...just ask the other Ms. Lemieux. The NHL could use a few more Neelys and fewer prima donnas. Ron Kennedy, Denver
This week's topic: What do you think of the NHL's decision to have teams wear their dark jerseys at home starting next season?
Click here to send us your choice, with a short (75 words or less) explanation. Brevity and humor are good; naughty words and personal attacks are not so good. And don't forget to include your name, hometown and home state/province.
Jon A. Dolezar covers the NHL for CNNSI.com. "Week at a Glance" will appear each Sunday during the regular season.
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