A puck in the mask. During the All-Star Game. That’s what started over a half a year’s worth of terror for Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller.
He played parts of just three games after the All-Star break and was diagnosed with vertigo, stuck in a place where he didn’t know exactly what to do to shake it. Now, despite not an ideal start for him (4-4-1 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .904 save percentage), he’s healthy.
That’s great news for now.
“I’m glad to be back playing, which wasn’t that sure after the end of last season,” he said. “I’m feeling good. Sure, I think there’s still room for improvement. But I don’t think that has anything to do with what was going on last year.”
Part of it, Hiller admits, might be rust. He got into games during the preseason but is still seeking a regular rhythm. Most athletes thrive on routine, and goaltenders especially. Finding that is just part of the challenge.
As for his health, Hiller is better and playing but not necessarily perfect.
“I mean there’s obviously days you feel a little better and a little worse,” he said. “But I think that’s almost common that everybody does. I probably paid a little more attention because I thought, like, ‘What’s going on?’ or ‘Why is it like that?’ Ever since I’m kind of back in Anaheim, I’m feeling good.”
On the ice, Hiller has played nine of the Ducks’ 11 games and is getting every chance to work his way back into top shape. He’s treating this as the start of a long journey that doesn’t peak for a while.
“I think I play pretty well. Sure, not perfect yet, but I’ve got plenty of time – season still long,” he said. “I hope I play my best hockey in the playoffs.”