It might seem logical to give Ducks' goalie Jonas Hiller a breather Friday night against the last-place Edmonton Oilers.
But why quit when you’re ahead?
Hiller, riding a team-record nine-game winning streak that makes him one of the NHL’s three stars of December with Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, was first off the ice at Friday’s morning skate, indicating he’ll start against the Oilers.
With the Pacific Division-rival Vancouver Canucks in town Sunday and Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins coming to the Honda Center on Tuesday, Hiller said riding the hot goalie streak trumps attention to rest now.
“It’s sometimes nice if you’re feeling it to have consistency,” Hiller said after Friday morning’s skate. “If you don’t play for almost five days, it can be tough to get back in the game. If you’re in the zone, it’s nice to have that rhythm of a game every two days. You’re feeling good about yourself.”
Hiller, a free agent at season’s end, is definitely in a groove.
He stopped all 17 first-period shots against San Jose on Tuesday to set up a 6-3 victory and boasted a 1.96 goals-against average and .929 save percentage to earn the NHL December honor. He hasn’t lost in regulation since Nov. 30.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau noted Hiller played 32 consecutive games for him in the 2011-12
“He’s playing so well right now … When they’re playing well, they don’t want to come
out,” Boudreau said. “That’s the case with Hilly.
“It might’ve been the case to rest, but that’s not what we’ve done and I’m not disrespecting Edmonton. They’re a good hockey club. I don’t want to give them any added motivation.”
PENNER DEMOTED?: Boudreau said forward Jakob Silfverberg will play his second straight game with the first line of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on Friday, with Dustin Penner being moved off that line a game after being a healthy scratch.
Penner has one goal and no assists in the last 11 games, with two scratches.
Boudreau stopped short of calling his handling of Penner a demotion.
“We’d love him to be more consistent,” Boudreau said. “He knows what he has to do to be on top of his game.”
The coach credited Penner’s diligence in studying how to be at his best.
“I’ve moved the lines around so much in the last two years … we have 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D,” Boudreau said. “Last game, our best line was,” the fourth line of Nick Bonino, Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri, “so we don’t put a lot of anything into being demoted. This is just a place where we think that he can succeed right now, and that’s all that we want him to do.”
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