PuckToons: Overheard Behind the Western All-Stars Bench

Every Thursday, Earl Sleek will conspire with his pen and scanner to bring you another installment of PuckToons. Hopefully you will find these amusing, relevant, well-drawn, or you're a person who is tolerant towards mediocrity.

As a western conference cartoonist, it's about time I took a shot at drawing Todd McLellan and Mike Babcock, whose success as head coaches for the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings will put them behind the western conference bench for this weekend's All Star Game in Montreal. As a disgruntled fan of the Anaheim Ducks, it's also about time I took a shot at the lackluster play of netminder J.S. Giguere, who will start for the Western All-Stars despite winning only one game over the previous five weeks.

It's not tough to peg when things went wrong for Giguere: through December 14, Giguere was 11-7-2 with a 2.86 GAA and a .913 save percentage. In that stretch, he had a .900+ save percentage in 13 of 22 appearances. Since December 23, however, Giguere has a miserable 1-5-2 record with a 3.68 GAA and a .876 save percentage, with a .900+ save percentage in only 1 of 9 appearances. In the cartoon I joke about pulling Giguere before the end of the first period, but it has recent precedent -- Giguere was lifted less than 15 minutes into Wednesday night's loss against the last-place Islanders after allowing 2 goals on only 7 shots.

A couple notable things have happened between December 14 and 23 that probably impacted Giguere's play -- his father tragically passed away, his longtime teammate Teemu Selanne injured himself on the ice, and through a rigged voting process, Giguere became the front-runner to become the starting goaltender for the All Star Game. Obviously the first explanation probably has the most legs, but whatever demon is plaguing Giguere, Ducks fans are certainly hopeful that an All-Star trip to Montreal can help him get out of his current funk. With Anaheim falling dangerously deep into the Western Conference's bubble mess, the Ducks will need solid netminding out of both Giguere and Jonas Hiller throughout the stretch run.

One last note about the cartoon: I didn't include a thought bubble, but I tried to draw Mike Babcock's facial expression as one of mental distraction. To me, he's asking himself, "Why the heck am I stuck at this All Star Game while my players get to excuse themselves from participating?" Sorry, Mike. It's the tough price of success.

PuckToons: Overheard Behind the Western All-Stars Bench originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Thu, 22 Jan 2009 14:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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