In praise of Bobby Ryan

In praise of Bobby Ryan
"The biggest thing is just his poise and his hands are unbelievable. I played with [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby, and those guys are probably the two best in the league. Bobby's hands are right with those guys... He's a superstar in the making, it seems."
---Ryan Whitney, former Ducks defenseman

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ducks at Dallas, vs Stars

After that heinous shutout loss in Boston, our Ducks need NEED NEED a win today. It's a weird 2pm game, noon PST, which throws off yours truly on a Saturday. But, after an untelevised Bruin game, and a Sabres game which was only watchable on Versus (which I don't have), I'm itching to see my boys again.

And I'm wanting to see this new acquisition, Ryan Whitney, in action.

The Dallas Stars are tied with the Ducks, along with the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild for positions 6 through 10 in the Western Conference standings. Needless to say, there's a lot riding on this game for both teams. Later today, the Wild and the Oilers are playing against each other. It'll be interesting to see the standings once the day's games have come to a close.

J.S. Giguere is in net again, Randy Carlyle is staying true to his elite netminder. Nothing against Jonas Hiller, who's still phenomenal in his own right, but I think it's important to show everyone that we still have faith in Giggy.

Ryan Getzlaf is still stuck playing in a visor to protect his broken nose... and that definitely changes his game. I grind my teeth knowing nothing has come of Sabre's Gaustad from that hit.


Andrew Ebbett, Bobby Ryan, and Teemu Selanne are out putting pressure on Stars' netminder Marty Turco. Bobby takes a big hit as he runs down the puck, and he's able to pass it to Ebbett who gets it to the Captain. Patiently waiting for the Star defenders to open up a shooting lane, he fakes, and then makes a shot... and it's in!

Two minutes into the game and the Ducks score first.

Ebbett and Bobby get points for the assist. As much as I wax poetic about my boy Bobby, I have to admit that Ebbett is also making quite a name for himself as a rookie on this club. He's gotten his share of assist points, but without as much fan fare. What can I say, I love them both on this second line with Teemu.

I'm impressed watching Chris Pronger out there with Whitney. Pronger at 6'6" and Whitney at 6'4", hell, that's a lot of defense to tangle with!

There's a nailbiter of a potential goal by Drew Miller. The puck dangled along the goal line but never completely crossed it. Upon video review, the officials deem a no goal.

It could have brought the Ducks ahead 2-nothing, but not this time.

Goal or no goal, I'm still a little miffed that Miller came up in exchange for Brian Salcido being sent back down to the Chops. I kinda wanted hometown boy Salcido to spend some more time in the NHL. I liked what I'd seen of him so far, but maybe Carlyle doesn't think it's his time, what with so many teams angling for playoff positions.

My boy Bobby takes another big hit. Looks like he's playing aggressive today. In fact, our Ducks seem to be the aggressors, at least for this period. But the Stars have an impressive forecheck.

What was I saying about aggressive? Sheldon Brookbank makes a huge hit on Eriksson, and then Trevor Daley steps in to take Brookbank on. The two get five for fighting, but Daley also takes the instigator penalty and is out for the rest of the period for misconduct. That's skirmish number two for Brookbank who, if you remember, came to Mike Brown's aid in the last game and took a misconduct.

The Ducks make good on the resulting power play. Pronger patiently measures out his slap shot, waiting for that shooting lane, and bam! It banks off Ebbett and goes home, for his fourth goal of the season. Ducks widen their lead, 2-0.

Hehe. To quote the commentator, "The silence in the Dallas arena is deafening."

Ducks take the lead going into the first intermission. That's gotta feel good.

The second period opens with the Stars on the power play thanks to a holding penalty
by Teemu. Unfortunately, the Stars capitalize on the man advantage and close the Duck lead to 2-1.

Another big hit by Bobby as he steals the puck on the resulting turnover, spins around, and passes it to Ebbett who narrowly misses the net. Definitely an impressive try. Shortly after, Bobby takes a penalty for holding and our Ducks are on a penalty kill again.

Once Bobby's back out, he puts some major pressure on Turco by deftly out-maneuvering the Stars defenseman and coming one on one up to the crease. Good save by Turco, but I'm pretty sure that, if he wasn't looking out for Bobby before, he definitely is now.

The Stars manage to get the puck back into the Ducks zone and repeatedly defy the Ducks from clearing it. Tired and sporting a man without a stick (Corey Perry), the Ducks allow the Stars to pass one by Perry and swiftly slam it through Giguere.

It's a tied game, and I'm wondering what the hell has happened to the Ducks that were playing that first period?? It's as if the Stars have them reeling over backwards, unable to get back on their feet.

There's two unfruitful power plays, then a series of loose pucks nervously bouncing all around Giguere's crease, and then a couple of Star shots that hit pipe. I'm amazed only those two goals got by Giggy, he's doing a great job. I almost can't watch, this is insane! The period mercifully ends, but it's still tied 2-2 so the third will be a scramble for the game.

The third period opens with some aggressive plays. Broken sticks are strewn all over the ice, just a sign of how hard everyone is playing. The Stars manage a breakaway pitting two against one, and Giggy has no chance against the fancy pass move between Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro.

Stars take the lead for the first time in this game, 3-2.

George Parros takes a minor for interference, it's barely a penalty, but it's still one nonetheless. Bad time to take a penalty, boys. Giggy is tested, but holds true. No additional goals for the Stars this time.

Then, Perry and Getzlaf take the puck down the ice behind Turco. Perry takes it towards the crease on a wraparound, evades Turco's poke check, and stuffs it into the slot in one fell swoop. Ducks tie up the game, 3-3.

Shortly thereafter, Ebbett cleanly picks the puck out of a Stars' pocket and, in a charge for the net, passes it just over the flailing stick of a defender flat on the ice, to Selanne, who drives it home. Amazing play! Ducks retake the lead, 4-3.

If our boys can just keep the Stars from scoring again... we might actually have this one.

Miller ends up with an iffy holding penalty, and the Stars go on a huge power play. I'm holding my breath through each faceoff, and I'm seriously missing Sammy Pahlsson! Giggy blocks shot after shot on the net, not that there's too many because the Duck defenders are doing a heckuva job blocking the shooting lanes. They kill the penalty and focus on just getting that puck in deep for the next three minutes.

And a tense three minutes they are. Stars have possession for a majority of this time, with the puck in the Anaheim zone. Giggy is amazing, despite all of the traffic in front of his net. The guys are doing what they can to buy time. Turco anxiously awaits his call back to the Dallas bench. I have to laugh as Miller heads out in front of the Dallas net to mess with the Stars as they regroup after a change and start back towards the Anaheim zone. He's like a fly in your face.

Finally, the Stars advance and Turco leaves the net empty. Players scramble in the Anaheim zone, the Stars making blocked shots, the Ducks catching rebounds and unable to clear the zone. A huge shot is made, beautifully blocked by Giguere, and it's sent back down the ice.

Dallas calls a timeout with 2.5 seconds left on the clock.

The faceoff will be Getzy against Ribeiro. As they scramble for the puck, which never leaves the dot because there's just too many players on top of it, the horn sounds the end of the game, and Giguere steps out of his goal crease to grab Ott around the head. He pulls the guy away and delivers a blow.

That's the only hint our boys need. Everyone charges the net, but Travis Moen reaches them first. He pummels Ott, smashing his fist repeatedly into a guy who has made an extreme annoyance of himself the entire game. He goaded Brookbank at the end of the second period, I believe, but would not drop the gloves. I'm understanding he's got a broken hand which will keep him from fighting, but it doesn't stop him from yapping... nor does it stop him from delivering repeated back checks to Scotty during that final faceoff.

Giggy saw those back crosschecks right in front of him and, after the horn blew, he came to the aid of his Captain. That, right there, is my favorite moment of this game (but there were plenty others to choose from).

After the dust settled, Moen and Ott both got five-minute fighting majors, Giggy got two minutes for roughing (but it was totally worth it), and Ott even got a match penalty. And the best part? Ducks end the day in 7th place, and in playoff standing, for the Western Conference.

Congrats, Giggy, on an incredible 200th career win.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ducks at Boston, vs Bruins

There's no televised broadcast of today's game, so I'm listening to the pregame, the game, and Josh Brewster's Duck Calls all on the radio. This is the first, and last, time the Ducks will play against the Eastern Conference leader. Might be a good thing.

First thing I'm hearing on the pregame, is that there's been a big trade between the Ducks and the Pittsburg Penguins.


It turns out, the Ducks have traded out Chris Kunitz (!!) for a Pen named Ryan Whitney. Kunitz comes with a prospect, Eric Tangradi (who's been called a "young Bobby Ryan," as if you could get any younger). I'm definitely sad hearing about this. I like Kunitz, and doesn't he have a designated space as part of the Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry group? Who's going to be up there? I hope Carlyle doesn't rearrange the second line, because Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne, and Andrew Ebbett seem to have a good chemistry together. Break that up to bring one of those boys to the first line... I don't know about that.

On the other hand, I can see the business behind this. Emotionally, you'd like to see the guy who's been with the team so long, who was part of the original Stanley Cup lineup, stay with the group. But if you want to get a good player, you gotta give a good player. And Kunitz, while he does score some points, hasn't scored a lot of them lately.

Still, it tugs at my heartstrings. Chris Kunitz, no longer a Duck.

They're saying that Whitney will be playing in the Ducks' lineup tonight, possibly alongside Chris Pronger, against the Bruins. So we'll get to see what we gave up a good man for. I am reading, however, that Whitney is a really good puck-moving defenseman... and we know that's been a shortcoming of our Ducks this season. I'll try to have faith in the suits' decision here, but it isn't going to be easy!

The game is underway, with Getzlaf's head encased in a visor due to the broken nose he acquired in Buffalo. I'm glad he's on the ice, but it's gotta be difficult to see when you're not used to playing with the visor. I'm hearing the second line is still intact. They're on the ice with Whitney and Pronger. J.S. Giguere is in net for the Ducks, All-Star Tim Thomas in net for the Bruins.

(I find myself really wishing I had a visual of the game. I'm so much better at this when I can SEE! Supposedly, there's an unofficial watch party, but I'm already comfortable at home on my couch with some Chex Mix and a beer... and I don't feel like dealing with Thursday evening traffic.)

About ten minutes into the period, the Ducks get their first penalty and play short-handed. Lots of plays on net here for both teams. At the end of the power play, no goals for anyone. I'm hearing lots of opportunities for the Bruins, and somehow, they've been missing. Still, it makes me nervous to hear that they're managing to center the puck and take aim so many times.

Perry gets hi-stuck (is that a word?) against the boards, and the Ducks go on their first power play. Nada. But Bobby gets close at the very end of that power play.

Before the end of the first, the Bruins get that first goal of the game. There's a giveaway in the neutral zone, and the Bruins capitalize. The first intermission sees a score of 0-1, Ducks trailing.

Early in the second period, another goal for the Bruins. And then a third. Aye.

I'm starting to get that sick feeling in my stomach that tells me I might not hear this game to its completion.

I'm waiting to hear if Jonas Hiller will be taking over. And yup, sure enough, he is. On eight shots, the Bruins have scored three goals. Probably a good time for Hiller to step up.

Keep in mind, these are the Bruins. They are number one in the Eastern Conference. Somehow, that keeps me from feeling too bad.

Our Ducks are trying. Scotty Niedermayer is playing up on the offense. The Ducks get another power play opportunity. Unfortunately, our boys can't capitalize. And then George Parros gets into a fight with Bruins' Thornton.

Bret Hedican has to leave the ice as an injury... I'm surprised he's out there anyway, with those back issues. Hell, do I know back issues.

Ducks have more shots on goal, but Bruins have the numbers where they count most.

A major fight breaks out as Mike Brown gets jumped on while he's down. Everyone gets paired off. Sheldon Brookbank and Pronger try to help out their teammate. Brown and Bruin Milan Lucic get the penalty box where they continue to yell at each other, but you can bet that Lucic is going to get his by somebody before this game is over. Then Brown goes to the locker room.

How can this be? Bruins get a power play off that scrum? Brown gets 2 minutes for instigating, 5 for fighting, and 10 for misconduct. Brookbank also takes a 2 minute penalty. And Lucic? Only the 5 for fighting. As it's called, the Captain drops gloves with Marc Savard, and both pick up 2 for roughing.

My god.

I don't think I've ever seen Scotty get into a fight. At least, if I have, I don't remember it.

Once play resumes, there's another Duck penalty immediately. Steve Montador for tripping. Geezus. There's three guys in the Duck penalty box, two in the Bruin box. The power play becomes 5 on 3, and the Bruins make good on it. 4-0.

Frustrated, Parros takes a holding penalty creating yet another power play opportunity for the Bruins. Again, another goal. 5-0.

Is this really happening??? There's only a minute left in the second period, thankfully, but I have a feeling that the third period is going to be an angry one.

In the third, so many great scoring chances for the Ducks. My boy Bobby comes very close yet again, but no goal. It's been a while since Bobby has scored, but I'm noticing he's getting guarded by much stronger opponents nowadays, sometimes even double-covered. I guess that's what happens when you draw attention to yourself as a good player.

The scoreboard definitely does not reflect the effort our Ducks are putting forward. I wonder if Kunitz's loss has anything to do with breaking our boys' concentration?

Then, a cross-checking call which gives the Ducks a power play. Please guys, let's at least get on the board? A good effort, but nothing to show for it.

With six minutes remaining, another Bruins goal. *groan* Try as they might, our Ducks can't fight off the shutout, 0-6.

The best thing about this game? It's finally over.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ducks at Buffalo, vs Sabres

I'm listening to this one at work, trying to lay low so management doesn't can me. But see, it's airing only on Versus, so I can't even record the game to watch it later with my lame Cable subscription. Boo. So all I can do is quick one-liners as I listen at work, and maybe add a little more color after I've watched the highlight reel.

I considered just letting this game go, catching the final score after work. But no. All of our Ducks' games from here on out are important ones. Wins and losses will move teams in and out of playoff contention on a daily basis. Each game counts. And, as the Ducks might actually have a good shot at winning this one (I'm basing my assumption on the fact that the Sabres will be without both Ryan Miller, goaltender extraordinaire, and goal-scorer Thomas Vaneck), I want to hear my boys as they make victory theirs.

So here we go...

Right as I'm getting the first bytes of the streaming feed, I hear Teemu Selanne has put the first goal already in net! YAY!!!

Sheldon Brookbank gets into a fight behind the net, five for fighting for both Duck and Sabre players. Still 5-5 on the ice.

Sounds like a physical game already, lots of hits, lots of scrums. J.S. Giguere is in net again, for the third time out of three games on this road trip. I'm happy to hear he's making some great saves. Should I say it? Perhaps we've seen the last of his slump?

And then, Montador gets a two-minute minor for hooking and the Sabres erase the Duck's lead on the resulting power play.

Mike Brown gets into a tussle with a Sabre... what was I saying about physical?

Apparently, Sabres are giving up a lot of pucks in their own zone to Duck turnovers. I like the sound of that!

As the period ends, players get in each others' faces to start a fight, but they grind their teeth and separate.

The second period has started already, but I at least get to listen in peace for 30 minutes during my lunch break. At almost halfway through the game, there's a power play opportunity for Anaheim. Numerous shots on the Sabre net are made, but nothing goes in. The Sabres also steal a breakaway, but they can't get it past Giggy.

And then Anaheim goes into penalty kill mode for a two-minute interference penalty against Bobby Ryan for falling on Sabre's netminder Patrick Lalime. Shorthanded, the Ducks manage a miracle: Todd Marchant gets a puck into the net, his first goal in what, 43 games??

Guess he decided to show off for his friends and family in the audience.

There's a crazy blocked shot that gets the commentators buzzing: a carem off the top of Steve Montador's headgear.

I'm happy to hear that Randy Carlyle has decided to keep my favorite second line intact: Teemu is still skating with my boy Bobby and Andrew Ebbett. See, I told you those three work well together.

Anaheim gets another power play opportunity with about six minutes left in the second period. Even with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu, the Captain, and Chris Pronger on the ice, our Ducks can't get one past Lalime. I have to admit, the Sabre netminder isn't doing too bad for a guy who doesn't start in net very often. He makes a lot of saves and gives up very few rebounds.

Then, after the power play expired, Mike Brown scores unassisted on a wild wraparound. It's in so quick that I'm laughing while watching the highlight. All of the Sabres on the ice, including Lalime, are just frozen after that goal is scored, as if to say, "What just happened? You gotta be fuckin' kidding me!"

It's Brown's second point this season, his first as a Duck, and also his first goal as a Duck. The guy was traded in because Anaheim wanted a physical player. A hitter. Apparently, the hitter can score too.

The period ends with the Ducks leading, 3-1.

The game continues into the third period with the Sabres' play sounding a bit disgruntled. At one enegetic moment, Derek Roy gets a point-blank scoring chance, but hits pipe. You can hear the fans groaning in disappointment.

Our Ducks are still playing very aggressively, keeping the Sabres guessing. The commentators point out that the booing you can hear in the background are the fans, angry with their own home team. I've never heard that before!

And then there's another two-minute penalty against the Ducks, Bret Hedican is penalized for hooking. It's during this man advantage that the Sabres put their second puck into the net. There was maybe two minutes, at most, to tie up the game, but the Sabres couldn't pull it off.

What they did manage, was an injury to Getzlaf (after a 3-man collision) that left blood on the ice and plenty of concerned Duck fans. In a postgame discussion, I heard that the injury was thankfully, nothing more than a bloody nose. I wouldn't want our boys going up against Eastern Conference leaders, the Boston Bruins, without Getzlaf!

Ducks win, for the second game in a row(!), 3-2.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ducks at Columbus, vs Blue Jackets

Bobby Ryan versus Steve Mason.

That's what they're saying about this game, they're calling it a matchup of star rookies. Although, I'd have to argue that the Ducks have a lot of promising rookies on their team, not just Bobby.

Not that I'd want to take any fire away from my favorite Duck.

But we've also got Brian Salcido who, after watching him hold his own against the Red Wings yesterday, I feel is a promising addition to the Ducks defense line. He's an offensive defenseman, and the Ducks need that. I'm still sorry to see Brett Festerling go, but I guess there isn't much to be done about that. Andrew Ebbett is also a rookie worth watching, especially as a part of the line with Bobby and Teemu Selanne.

Even though J.S. Giguere started in net in yesterday's game, he'll start again in today's game.

As the game gets underway, I'm noticing a lot of energy. Our Ducks are skating hard and putting up a strong defense. They keep the puck largely in the Jackets' zone, making numerous shots on goal. And it pays off. On their first power play, Ducks take the first goal thanks to a quick Chris Pronger slap shot from the blue line.

Go Ducks! That's how you gotta do it, play hard, land that first goal, take the wind out of the Jackets' sails.

Already, this game is looking like a playoff game. There's a scrum in front of the Jacket's goal, resulting in a 4-on-5 against Anaheim that failed to yield fruit. Before the end of the 1st period, Salcido gets his first point in his NHL career. He assists a shot to Brendan Morrison, who curves the puck around the back of the slot, only to have it bank off a Jacket defenseman's skate and into the goal.

We're 2-0 and I can't contain my excitement. This is how I want our boys to be playing! What a game. The Jackets are feeling the pressure, and you can practically see them reeling over backwards from the wave of Ducks offense.

Before the end of the period, more fighting, and a dead goal in Giggy's net. The play had been considered dead before the puck crossed the line, but the Jackets did manage to poke it out from under Giggy. That's a tough call, but they are saying that the referee's intent is what comes first, not his whistle.

It's in our Ducks' favor so, okay!

As the period ends, you can see the hate coming off of the players. This is going to be one helluva game!

The second period sees our Ducks serving one penalty after another. Please, guys, don't blow this! They need to get back under control. Continue to put on the pressure, but don't be careless. At least there's a bright side: the Jacket's are last in the league on the power play. So... if you're going to give out a lot of power plays, might as well be while you're playing Columbus.

And it gives Giggy a chance to make some great saves. Although, I wouldn't want him to get too many chances.

I guess I spoke too soon, a power play goal with about 7 minutes left in the period puts the Jackets on the board.

But it's answered quickly afterwards by a straighforward shot by Corey Perry under Mason, who wasn't sure if Perry was going to play or pass. And then again! A Ryan Getzlaf pass to Corey Perry, who chips it around the goal in a haphazard pass to the front of the crease. Mason can't find the puck as it bounces and is batted in by Chris Kunitz.

The beautifully executed goal by our amazing first line brings the game to 4-1 at the close of the second period, even though the Jackets made a heckuvalot more shots on goal.

The third period starts with a nailbiter of a double minor on Chris Kunitz for high sticking and drawing, as they call it, "forensic evidence." The Jackets manage to get a puck in net during those four minutes. In another nailbiter, Getzlaf limps off to the locker room after stopping a puck with what appears to be his leg or foot. Thankfully he returns shortly.

The Ducks still have their 2-goal lead, and I'm hoping they can just hold on! Our boys are visibly tired, having just played the Red Wings last night.

And maybe another goal while they defend their lead? Apparently so. I'm sitting on the edge of my seat as the second line converges on Mason: Teemu, Bobby, and Ebbett, with Bobby leading on the puck. He passes to Ebbett, who fires on the goal. Mason blocks, the puck makes a short rebound and a split-second later, it's in the net thanks to Bobby's beautiful timing.

I love that kid!

The hush that falls over the Columbus crowd is music to my ears. That's Bobby's 21st goal of the season. In the Bobby vs Steve rookie race, I'm thinking Bobby's definitely puts in a strong bid for that award.

There are some last minute scrambles and a bunch of great saves by Giguere, but our Ducks hold their own and beautifully defend their 5-2 lead and break their losing streak.

Honestly, I'm happiest for Giggy with this game, cuz he could definitely use the confidence boost. Well-deserved!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ducks at Detroit, vs Red Wings

Game one of a huge road trip for our Ducks. Huge, in that it's a long 6-game stretch. But also huge in that each of those games is against another team in playoff contention.

This first game isn't expected to be easy. In fact, I'm pretty much assuming our Ducks will lose this one. I know, you can say I have no faith, but c'mon... the Red Wings are second in the Western Conference right now. Their power play is number one. I love our Ducks, but I have to admit they're up against a tough team tonight.

'Course then, our boys have won against certain teams they shouldn't have... and lost against other teams they shouldn't have. So nobody really knows how this will pan out.

I'm at an official watch party for this one. I still love seeing the game on the big screen, with a room full of fans. I'm also curious to see how our newest Duck will fare. Brian Salcido, the first Duck to be born and trained right here in SoCali, starts his NHL career in Detroit having been brought up from Iowa.

Right at the 11-second mark of the game, Ducks get their first power play off a high-sticking penalty. They make good with the advantage, Ryan Getzlaf slaps a puck past Red Wings netminder Ty Conklin. You might consider having someone other than Chris Osgood in net a promising sign. Although, this new guy holds a pretty impressive record of his own.

Incidentally, Chris Pronger picked up a point assist on the Getzlaf goal, and this is his 1000th game in the NHL. Unfortunately, not a home crowd, but his family is in attendance.

This first period is action-packed, with some excellent saves by J.S. Giguere, and shots on goal by our offensive lines. Corey Perry, in particular, is making some impressive shots on the Red Wing net. I like seeing that 1-0 lead (any lead will make my eyes misty against this team), and the Ducks miss a chance to bump that to two with an excellent play that lands the puck against a Red Wing goal post. So close!

With less than seven minutes left in the period, Red Wings get on the board. It's a quick flip pass that hits the crossbar and goes into the net. Unfortunately, they follow that up with another goal on a power play right before the period ends.

Ducks go into the first intermission trailing, 1-2.

Despite being down a goal, I'm very proud of our Ducks. They're playing hard, moving their feet, putting together some great plays. And Giggy is really in top form tonight.

On a side note, the few (yet loud) Red Wing fans that have showed up to this watch party are REALLY annoying. Grr! Probably more so because they're right in front of me.

It seems the second period turns into a penalty disaster for the Ducks, allowing the Red Wings to increase their lead to 2. Giggy's phenomenal performance is the only reason the Red Wings didn't totally wipe the ice with the Ducks. The Ducks put a number of pucks against Conklin, but can't seem to get anything into the net.

The second period ends with the Ducks trailing even further behind, 1-3.

Early in the third, the Ducks make a fatal error and take the puck down the middle in their zone. It's quickly turned over and, in the same swoop, shot into the net.

Then it's Detroit's turn to take a few penalties. With the ensuing power plays, the Ducks come so close so many times. At one point, the Ducks have a two-man advantage, and they can't make good on it. How frustrating. Well, at least I can say our Ducks are really making the Red Wings work for this win. You can't deny that they aren't playing their hearts out.

With five minutes left, finally, a payoff. Teemu Selanne flips a wild pass in the Detroit zone. Andrew Ebbett, trying to connect, loses an edge and flies past it. But my boy Bobby Ryan is right behind him and catches the puck before Conklin even realizes where it is, tapping it past him and into the goal. That's Bobby's 20th goal this season, tying him with Getzlaf (and Bobby didn't even play at the start of the season).

Time and time again, the Ducks make close plays on the Detroit net. I keep hearing "ping!" "ping!" as the puck hits pipe. Corey Perry is caught on camera screaming expletives... I hear ya, man. It's his fourth denied goal after a marvelously aggressive play.

To add insult to injury, with 6.5 seconds left on the clock, Detroit catches the puck on a breakaway and manages to get it by Giggy. Ducks start off their road trip on the wrong foot, losing 2 to 5.

Considering how well our boys played, they definitely did not deserve such a fate.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ducks vs Los Angeles Kings

There's a lot riding on this game. Not just the Freeway Faceoff title, although that's a big one. But also, the Ducks are out of the playoff standings for the first time this season. They need this win!

Nothing against J.S. Giguere, cuz I love Giggy, but I'm a little bit relieved to see Jonas Hiller start in net tonight. I think Giggy took a beating in the last game, against the Thrashers, and I'm concerned how that might affect his game.

Right as the first period starts, our boys are moving their feet, it's an aggressive game. I'm hoping they won't repeat their habit of giving up that first goal... but somehow, I doubt it...

And then, the Kings get one past Hiller.

But that's not to say that Hiller isn't on the ball. He made some excellent saves. In the first period, there was a great point blank, one-on-one save against a rushing Anze Kopitar. On the other side of the rink, the Kings' netminder tonight is Jonathan Quick, an excellent goalie in his own right.

To prove that point, the first period comes to a close with the Kings leading 1-0.

Even though our Ducks open the second with the rest of a power play, they can't get one into the net. It's a bit frustrating, cuz the guys are making great shots on goal. Especially when, at the middle of the game, the Kings get another one between the arm and the body of Hiller. It's now 2-0 and my mood has dropped considerably.

Emotions are running high already, and even more so with this deficit. Mike Brown already fought Wayne Simmonds in the first. And after every whistle following a goalie save, guys start pushing and shoving in the crease.

Finally, in the later half of the second, a faceoff win by Ryan Getzlaf finds its way to Scott Niedermayer, who sends it towards Quick. The rebound is picked up by Teemu Selanne, who slams it through some major traffic to find net. Ducks get on the scoreboard, 1-2.

The third period starts with a penalty against Jack Johnson for intercepting Chris Kunitz. On the resulting power play, Getzlaf does an amazing play down the center of the ice and gets the puck past Quick to tie the game. Play intensifies as the period stretches on. Lots of energy on the ice... and bad calls when Bobby Ryan gets clipped in the face by a high stick, with no call from the zebras.

Moments later, he's sent to the penalty box with one of the Kings for a hooking/holding the stick combo. And then ANOTHER penalty against the Ducks, and the Captain is sent to the box for slashing.

The Kings take advantage of the 4 on 3 play and retake the lead.

And then more penalties. Both Niedermayer brothers and no Kings because of a huge, multiplayer scrum behind the Kings net? I don't get it. But it's a 5 on 3 game again, with pressure running high on Hiller to keep those pucks out of his net. Unfortunately, he can't, and the Kings take another goal.

With less than five minutes to go, it looks like our Ducks are doomed. But not without a fight! Kunitz gets an amazing goal between the pipes. My boy Bobby has already attempted an excellent shot on goal that was denied by Quick, and then again, he makes a great slap shot that gets covered. You can read the frustration off his face.

Without the Captain, I can't say I hold out much hope for an equalizer. And indeed, the Ducks can't pull through. The Kings take the game, and the Freeway Faceoff Title, 4-3.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Rinks, Corona inline launch

I'd heard about The Rinks program via a link from the Ducks official website. There would be a launch ceremony at the newest rink, at the Corona location. Since I had the Monday off work (a rarity for me), I decided to drive those ten minutes from my parents' house to check out the festivities.

I didn't really know what to expect. Maybe there'd be some freebees, maybe some news announcements, maybe a few familiar faces. Nothing could have prepared me for the incredible day ahead of me.

Author's note: I might lapse into bouts of teenaged excitement in this entry. You'll have to forgive me, I've never been so close to our Ducks before.

The rain was falling, but I found the rink with little trouble. I was early, but the place was set up for fun, and there were already quite a few people in attendance.

The entire place would become standing room only as fans and players waited for our Ducks to arrive.

I walked around, snapping pictures and sizing up the best places to be to get other great shots. It felt like being in high school again, when I was on the newspaper staff, trying to get good angles for the Homecoming game/track meets/drama theatricals. I could flash my press pass and be able to get right out on the field. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a press pass for Ducks events like these?

The Rinks setup included a shot target for the kids to practice their aim.

The Ducks Color Analyst Brian Hayward walked right by me as I measured up angles outside the rink. I smiled and said hello, he was polite and nodded at me. I probably could have gotten a picture of him, or with him, as he did with fans later... but it didn't occur to me at the time. He went on stage and announced that a few of our Ducks would be present to inaugurate the new Rink and coach its first game. How exciting!

Now I didn't feel foolish for tucking my Ducks hat and a silver sharpie in my purse. Maybe I'd get an autograph or two.

Our Ducks arrived late thanks to a longer-than-usual practice and some incorrect driving directions. But my boy Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne were the first to arrive. I had a perfect spot on the right side of the audience, with a clear shot of the stage. And yes, the teenager in me was positively thrilled to be so close to Bobby. w00t.

Teemu and Bobby talk about how proud they are to be a part of the future of hockey through the Rinks program.

Brian grills the guys about the difficult practice session that made them late to the Rinks event.

And then, Chris Pronger shows, much to the cheers of the audience. By the way, I'm absolutely astounded by the showing here. It's raining outside, and Southern Californians hate rain. Hell, that's why we live in SoCali. The Ducks haven't been as strong as they have in past seasons. But still, the fans drive out, the fans are here... and they still love their Ducks.

You want to know why? I have a feeling it's got something to do with events like this. Our Ducks aren't just a sports team. They are an active force in this community, and they use their high-profile position to help the community. The athletes are down-to-earth guys, humble and grateful, devoted to their fans. They make us want to be there for them because they've earned our respect. That's why I love the Ducks. Because they GIVE BACK. Not like some other teams... ahem.

Brian Hayward takes questions from the audience for Pronger, Teemu, and Bobby.

Some of the kids in the audience had some great questions for the guys. I especially liked: "How do you feel when the crowd screams your name?"

Pronger: "Screaming? How about booing? I get a lot of boos, but I like that."

I love how I got a feel for the guys' personalities as they stood on that stage. Teemu had the politically correct answers. He's the one who sounds like he's done tons of appearances and interviews. He knows what to say and he's very comfortable in that skin. Pronger is quite the character, joking around and not taking himself seriously. He's the guy who'd be great to sit down and knock back a couple of beers with. And Bobby, the rookie with new-found fame, seemed rather shy and quiet. Maybe he's not quite comfortable yet with the spotlight, but the boy is very talented and I'm sure he won't be this way for long. But while he is, it's very endearing. I'm looking forward to watching him grow into an amazing player.

After the questions, the guys joined a few of the players of the inaugural game to perform a ceremonial faceoff. Photo op. But I was in the wrong place for this. I got stuck behind Pronger and, as the guy is massive, I couldn't see anything except his huge 25 in my face.

The ceremonial faceoff.

The crowd broke up after the faceoff and that's when the scurry started for autographs. I was hoping that would have been a little more organized, because there was a lot of pushing and shoving... but somehow, I got pushed right into Teemu. He quietly signed autographs as he walked towards the rink, not really making eye contact or conversation with fans. I think he just goes into a zone. I got him to sign my hat before he headed off to coach his team of youngsters.

Teemu signs autographs for the fans.

I really wanted to get Bobby's autograph, but he'd already disappeared to the rink. The press was allowed onto the rink to snap pictures of the guys with their respective teams. The rest of us clustered around outside of the player boxes, and I settled for shots through the glass.

Bobby and Teemu give their team encouragement and game pointers.

Pronger coaches his team during the debut game.

Bobby intently watches his team.

What a great opportunity for these kids. They were mostly nine and ten-year-olds, playing inline hockey. To have actual NHL players show up to coach them during a game... I mean, wow.

Chris Pronger sneakily tries to overhear the opponent's game strategy.

The only thing between me and greatness is a pane of glass...

At some point during an intermission, Pronger left his box and stepped out of the rink. It's probably a correct assessment to say I wasn't alone in waiting for this opportunity.

Pronger gets swarmed by fans as he steps off the rink.

"Woah," Pronger exclaimed. "Back up, everybody. I'm getting claustrophobic and believe me, you don't want me to freak out."

The crowd did as it was told, and Pronger was visibly surprised. He reached for the hats, jerseys, and player cards that were held out to him, signing them with his own black sharpie while laughing and engaging in small talk. I got him to sign my hat too. I backed up as far as the crowd would let me and snapped pictures.

If you think Pronger looks really tall in these pictures, that's because he is! On a good day, I come up to his armpit.

At around this time, Robbie Niedermayer finally arrived. I was talking to another Bobby fan when we heard a deep voice behind us. "Excuse me."

"Oh sorry," we stepped aside, and Robbie walked right by us. "Woah, wait. That's Rob Niedermayer!" We laughed. Rob looked like he was in no mood to sign anything, and headed straight to Pronger's bench to catch up with his team. That was okay. Having gotten Teemu and Pronger, my sole intent now was to catch Bobby.

By the time the game wrapped up, the scoreboard reading 4-2 echoed the fact that it was definitely an eventful game, the crowd had figured out the most probable path for the players to exit the rink and placed themselves strategically there in a mass of bodies. I was a little miffed, but I'd still try my best.

The guys evaded that route, probably noticing how packed it was, and opted for the back door. I fought my way over there as Rob, Teemu, and Pronger were practically out the door. Bobby lagged behind, and I took advantage of the opportunity. He looked me straight in the eye as I handed him my hat. Taking my pen, he signed a hockey stick and a puck before handing it back. "Oh," I said, "the pen was meant for my hat,"

"Oh!" He exclaimed, and gave me a sweet smile. Okay, now I was officially starstruck and dumbfounded.

After he signed my hat, I managed, "Can you sign my shirt too? I promise that next time, I'll have your jersey." I turned around so he could sign on his number.

He laughed, "No problem, this is great!"

"Thanks so much, Bobby. Love ya!"

"You're welcome! Anytime!" He smiled at me again and I stepped back, totally oblivious to the fact that he was standing right there in front of me and I had a camera that I could easily have used to capture the moment. Oh well. I have this amazing event emblazoned in my memory, and that will have to do. I also slipped the url to this blog into this pocket, so hopefully he'll visit these pages and not be scared off, haha.

I had the opportunity to get a much better, closer picture of Bobby, but I was too starstruck to remember that I had a camera hanging around my neck.

My question is, can you wash autographed shirts and hats? And if so, how?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ducks vs. Atlanta Thrashers

I wonder if, at any point during the second or third period of tonight's game against the Atlanta Thrashers, one of the Ducks thought, "Okay, joke's over. Somebody wake me up now..." I can tell you that thought went through the head of almost every Duck fan.

Because honestly? Tonight's game was nothing short of a horrible nightmare!

What the hell happened? I couldn't even listen to the entire game. I was at work, listening to the radio broadcast with two of my coworkers (avid Duck fans in their own right) and we decided to turn the radio off after J.S. Giguere was pulled from the net, Jonas Hiller replaced him, and the Thrashers quickly welcomed him to the game by sliding a puck past him.

Hell, his skate blades hadn't even gotten cold yet.

I can imagine this was Hiller's thought as he took the net: "What? You expect me to salvage THIS?!"

I have the game recorded and waiting for me in my VCR, but something tells me I'm not going to want to watch it. Imposing depressive episodes isn't exactly my thing. I will, however, watch the highlights so that I can see my boy Bobby Ryan score. In fact, the only Duck goals in this game came from the second line.

Teemu Selanne, Andrew Ebbett, and Bobby Ryan have something beautiful going here, and I hope that Randy Carlyle knows enough not to mess with it.

I hate to say it, but I almost expected this to happen. How can the same team which whipped the Flames two times in a row lose to teams like the Thrashers, the Islanders, and the Lightning??? Seems the Ducks have found a way.

Let's just hope that the Los Angeles' Kings recent climb in the standings no longer labels them as a "losing" team that the Ducks "should" beat.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ducks vs. Calgary Flames

I'm very excited to be AT this game; it'll be my very first Ducks game on home ice. I met up with a fellow Duck fan and meetup member (my meetup endeavor didn't prove very fruitful, but I've at least found a handful of Duck faithfuls to talk to).

Wearing my black Bobby Ryan #54 t-shirt, I loved being around so many other Ducks fans. Very cool. My friend and I had a brief ticket snafu, but were still able to get to our seats in time to watch a special opening ceremony. Steve Rucchin made an appearance to present Teemu Selanne with a photo collage award for playing the most games in the history of the club.

Way to go, Teemu!

As the game starts, I realize how far up our seats actually are. Considering I won my tickets (and didn't have to pay a cent for them), I'll take what I can get. But, my fear of heights would have kicked in if I hadn't been so damn excited.

Don't breathe too hard, there's limited oxygen up here.

Look at those championships!

As has been the Ducks tradition, the first goal of the game goes to Calgary. Argh. J.S. Giguere is starting in net again, having won our last game also against the Flames on Saturday. However, we don't get the luck of having Curtis McElhinney in the Flames net. Instead, it'll be the daunting Miikka Kiprusoff.

Before the game is six minutes in, George Parros decides to go for Round Two with Andre Roy, whom he fought when Calgary hosted the Ducks five days ago. I think our boys did well with that energy, as they made shot after shot on goal. But see, this is Kiprusoff they're up against, and getting anything past that netminder is close to impossible.

The Ducks get their first power play on the heels of an injury to Ryan Getzlaf. Anytime you see a guy as important as Getzlaf limping off the ice, you get that feeling of dread in your stomach. I prayed Getz would return while anxiously watching a number of Chris Pronger's shots on goal get denied by a on-the-ball Kiprusoff.

As the power play comes to a close, Getzlaf comes back onto the ice and much cheering is heard.

The first period finishes with the scoreboard reading 0-1, but not for lack of energy. Our boys were fighting hard. I just hoped they'd have something to show for it.

At the first intermission, it was time for one of the most important events of the game: hot dogs and bevvies. My friend treated me to a wiener and a coke, yummy.

Can I just say I'm really liking the Ducks' second line. Teemu, my boy Bobby Ryan, and Andrew Ebbett just seem to mesh together. They pass well, they anticipate each others' moves... it just looks like it works well. I love it.

Expect good things to happen when you see #54, #8, and #48 on the ice together.

And then, we get a chance to see if Mike Brown, who the Ducks just acquired from the Vancouver Canucks, can live up to his words. I remember reading an article shortly after his acquisition, in which he referred to himself as a physical player. He likes to fight, he likes to agitate the opponent. Supposedly, this was the reason why he's been added to the Ducks' roster. And wow, Brown comes through like a champ. I watched him deliver a series of blows to Eric Nystrom, and consequently receiving more than a nod from his teammates on the bench.

The number of shots on the Flames goal heads skyward, yet no reflection on the scoreboard. Kiprusoff remains cool as a cucumber.

Actually, Giggy is making quite a few excellent saves as well. He just hasn't seen as much action as the puck has been spending most of its time on the other side of the rink. And Corey Perry's doing some pretty moves of his own. Look for those on the highlight reel.

Finally, a break? Dion Phaneuf is sent to the box on a hooking penalty and we have another Ducks power play. Indeed, our boys capitalize. The Captain jumps on a rebound and slams it home. The crowd, including yours truly, erupts. It's tied, 1-1.

If you're looking at this in your zone and Getzlaf is in that faceoff, you should probably keep your eyes open for pucks.

Before the end of the period, the Flames grab back the lead. Did I mention I'm expecting the Ducks to lose this one? Again, not for lack of faith, but more so superstition. Seems when I honestly expect them to lose, they don't. With less than a minute to go, Ebbett takes an open ice hit from Phaneuf's elbow (or shoulder, hard to tell) to the face, breaking his nose. There's no call... are we surprised? But Chris Pronger gets two minutes in the box for coming to his teammate's defense.

How stupid is that? I suppose we Ducks fans should be used to bad calls.

In the third, after Pronger gets out of the box, Getzlaf wins a puck from out of the boards and passes it straight to Brendan Morrison, who sends it in past Kiprusoff for a goal. Yay! 2-2 and we're tied again.

The rest of the period is a nailbiter, tons of excellent plays, tons of excellent saves. But nobody retaking the lead. The horn blows at the end of regulation and a multiple player scrum erupts in front of the Calgary net. Chris Kunitz and Cory Sarich are sent to the box. It's going to be 3 on 3 in overtime.

No less than 55 seconds into overtime, Scott Niedermayer sends a marvelous pass from Todd Marchant at Kiprusoff. The puck carems off the netminder's stick and into his goal.

Ducks win it in overtime, 3 to 2!! My friend and I are jumping up and down, screaming and cheering, the Ducks' bench empties and all the boys are out on the ice, piling around Scotty. He manages to sneak off, but the guys keep celebrating. And they should, cuz they truly deserved this one.

Hey, where's the guy who just won the game?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ducks at Calgary, vs Flames

I went into this one expecting our Ducks to lose.

Not because I don't have any faith, mind you, but because hey, our boys have been so unpredictable this season, it was a road game, AND it was against the Flames. Also, my friend and I would be attending a watch party at the local ESPN Zone so, even if the Ducks got their asses handed to them on a silver platter, I'd be getting buffalo wings and nachos handed to me on a restaurant plate. I would make the most of it.

If there's one thing about me you've probably guessed by now, it's that good food can make my day. I'd like to think I have my priorities straight.

Maybe expecting that loss was the magic formula. Maybe the energy from those 50 or so fans in that ESPN Zone room, with its awesome big screen and surround sound, helped our boys extinguish those Flames. Maybe we lucked out because Miikka Kiprusoff wasn't in the Flames net. Maybe the Flames had indigestion from a bad breakfast which made them make crucial mistakes at just the right moments, when our boys were able to capitalize and get pucks into the net.

Whatever the reason, that Saturday game was a win our boys desperately needed. And it was an official Ducks watch party that I thoroughly enjoyed, topped by a few extra special events that I'll share after my comments on the game.

Finally breaking that horrible tradition of letting the other team make the first goal, my boy Bobby Ryan sunk a puck off an assist from Andrew Ebbett early in the first period, much to the cheers and screams of us fans. And then, with less than a minute left in the second, Corey Perry intercepted a puck at middle ice, storming down on Flames' netminder Curtis McElhinney one-on-one. It was a basic shootout play, and a successful one with Perry extending the Ducks' lead to a comfortable two goals. The Flames managed to slip a puck past Giggy in the third period, after at least 40 long minutes of trying to get on the scoreboard.

The game was definitely physical, as you'd expect for these two clubs. Two fights broke out, one between big guys George Parros and Andre Roy in the second, and another between Steve Montador and Cory Sarich late in the third. After Perry's goal, the Ducks went into a defensive MO, trying to keep pucks out of their net and ride out the game with their 2-0 lead. J.S. Giguere made a number of phenomenal saves, and I was happy to see him looking like he was truly enjoying himself out there.

Maybe his slump is over? I'm hearing opinions all over that Giggy's past his prime, that he needs to be traded. I can't disagree more. On a basic level, I think it's plain sad that we'd want to get rid of a guy with a great track record just because he's fallen on a few hard times. I mean, a whole season of bad playing, that's one thing, but a few thrown games shouldn't get a guy booted. After all, in Giggy's case, he lost his father. That's something that will hit anyone hard.

I understand the argument that hockey's a business and clubs have to build lines that score goals. The NHL wants teams who can move the puck and get butts into the seats.

But hockey is also a recreational sport, and an emotionally charged one at that. Fans get attached to teams, they get attached to certain players. And with the way the Ducks are so involved with the community, good guys like Giguere give the team a human, compassionate side. Fans go to the games to see a good show, but they also go because they feel strongly for their team and their favorite players.

I know it doesn't make a lot of business sense to say this but, I feel like the Ducks wouldn't be the Ducks without key guys like Giguere. He's one of the guys who takes us to the playoffs. He's one of the guys who earned the Stanley Cup in '07. A few bad games and you want to trade him? It just doesn't seem right to me.

Anyway, I'll get off my soap box now.

The game ended successfully for our Ducks, the Flames never managed to get that equalizer. I felt that the win was even sweeter having been shared amongst 50 cheering Duck fans.

And now, for my special treats. During the second intermission, I spied a familiar face sitting a few tables from me. At least, I thought he looked close to the small image in the header of the official Ducks webpage blog written by Adam Brady. I read Adam's blog religiously, and I email/bother him quite frequently with questions and comments. Obviously, I never read his blog before I've written mine; I'm not interested in consciously or unconsciously stealing anyone's intellectual property... and the art of writing can be hugely subliminal.

I introduced myself and we shared a little small talk. It was very cool to finally meet the guy.

Treat number two came with the presence of the radio show Duck Calls producer Josh Brewster. I've listened to Josh's show before, but I would never consider calling in or anything because I feel like a lot of Josh's callers are HUGE fans. They talk stats and technical details and other such things that a more passive Ducks' afficionado like myself wouldn't know the first thing about. I'd never want to come across like some sort of lame poseur!

So, when Josh announced that he'd be doing his show right there at the ESPN Zone after the Calgary game, I didn't think too much of it. Maybe I could meet the guy, shake his hand, and tell him I like his show. But that would be it, right?


My friend thought it would be funny to push me into that sound booth, as Josh waved us in while we peeked in through the glass. "She's a huge Ducks fan," he announced, while I stood there looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

Josh promised me it would be painless as I was given a seat and a pair of headphones. I hope I didn't look as nervous as I felt. But, as he asked me questions about how I felt about the game our Ducks played against the Flames, and being able to watch it at the ESPN Zone, my nerves disappeared.

Get me talking about my boys and I've apparently got plenty to say.

We talked a bit about the upcoming NHL trades and my opinions on the Ducks' playoff potential, and it was great fun. I became star-stricken after the whole thing was over, excitedly telling my friend, "I was on the air with Josh Brewster!"

So Josh, if you're reading this, just know you totally made a great day even better =D

Now, if the Ducks can just beat the Flames again on Wednesday... Maybe I'll just assume they'll lose, and resolve myself to enjoying my beer and hotdog... and then cheer and scream like a mad person when they win.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

And the award goes to...

After the last two games, I need some good news to raise the morale here.

As badly as the Ducks have placed themselves in the standings with too many losses against teams they shouldn't have lost to, some of our individual Ducks have actually done quite well during the month of January.

Captain Scott Niedermayer took honors as one of the league's Three Stars for the month of January as he led all defensemen with 17 points in 14 games. He also landed third in scoring for the month.

First in scoring for the league belongs to Ryan Getzlaf with 19 points.

My boy Bobby Ryan earned himself the Rookie of the Month title which, incidentally is the first time a Ducks rookie has claimed that award in the league. He also tied for top goal scorer with Calgary's Mike Cammallari.

On the team effort, the Ducks power play has the top efficiency percentage for January, beating out both the Sharks and the Red Wings.

And somehow, our boys are still struggling for playoff standing??

In other Bobby Ryan news, I've heard that my boy is the subject of an excellent article in this month's issue of Sports Illustrated. I'll be picking that up the next time I'm at the newsstand. He's also on the cover of the current Ducks Digest, which I'll be getting when I attend the home game against the Flames on the 11th (woo!). There's also this little tidbit from the NHL Live radio show. Check it out.

If you haven't noticed, I'm all about this kid.

Ducks at Nashville, vs Predators

I'm watching this game while lying sick in bed. Not cool, but I'm hoping a win will be the medicine I need. Heaven knows the Ducks need a win!

The big news tonight is that J.S. Giguere is back in the net. Giggy hasn't played since the All Star break, hopefully the time off has given him a chance to breathe deeply, relax, and refocus his concentration. As wonderful as Jonas Hiller is, it's Giggy who has gotten this team into past championships.

We Ducks fan should just consider ourselves extremely lucky to have two excellent goaltenders on our team.

More news, the Ducks have acquired some new meat. I was about to say fresh meat considering how much play these guys have gotten recently on their former teams, but that somehow didn't sound right. Put Nathan McIver and David McIntyre on a plane, send it out and bring it back, and who should disembark but the Devils' Sheldon Brookbank and the Canucks' Mike Brown. I hope somebody's got a miracle up their sleeves...


As the first period unfolds, I'm elated to see Giguere playing with speed and agility. He made a number of excellent saves, but unfortunately, he couldn't keep the Predators from scoring first.

It seems our Ducks have made a tradition of letting the opposition score first, having done so in the last eight consecutive games. I'm not liking that one bit. At least this time, they answered with a beautiful goal by Corey Perry, who deftly maneuvered the puck past various Predator defenders to wrap it cleanly past netminder Pekka Rinne.

Going in to the first intermission, it's tied 1 to 1.

The Predators quickly regain their lead early in the second, and solidify it with another goal roughly ten minutes later. Trailing 1 to 3, my hopes are sinking for that Duck win. Ryan Carter honorably tries to rally the troops, earning himself and Kevin Klein fighting majors.

It almost worked. Bobby Ryan misses a goal by mere inches, bouncing a puck off the inside of a pipe as he got checked in front of the Predator goal crease. But a minute before the end of the second, Teemu Selanne manages a pass from behind the net to Perry, who happens to be right at the crease, and he pushes it in. Second goal for Perry, and the score tightens to 2-3 going into the second intermission.

Early in the third, Bobby is denied yet another goal. This one, a perfect pass from Brendan Morrison, and is somehow caught by Rinne from point blank range. My boy is visibly frustrated, as are Duckss fan all around, I'm sure. Just when you think the Ducks have turned over a new leaf with back to back wins, they follow that up with what is looking to be a back to back loss.

And to rub salt into a gaping wound, Ryan Getzlaf gets a high-sticking penalty with less than three minutes left in the game. Once he's out of the box, there would only be 45 seconds to get that equalizer. Hopes rise for a split second when a Pred is also sent to the box for a holding penalty, but those are quickly dashed when Carlyle sends Giggy to the bench and the Preds score an empty net goal.

I turned off the television at this point, a 4-2 loss was enough to make me ill.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ducks at Minnesota, vs Wild

I'm writing this entry after the fact...

After the fact that I heard the Ducks take the shameful 0-3 shutout loss over the radio at work.

After the fact that I went home and watched my recorded broadcast, with the Wild grabbing that first goal of the game in the first, another goal in the second, and a third empty net goal in the third.

Jonas Hiller was in net and did as good a job as he could, given his team wasn't giving him any strong defensive backing. The offense wasn't much more effective. Against a team like the Wild... check that. Against a goaltender like Niklas Backstrom, you need to have a really good offensive to get pucks into the net. I felt like our Ducks just couldn't get a cohesive play together. Things seemed disjointed, sloppy, and lethargic.

And how many times did Ryan Getzlaf's skates flip out from under him? I swear, he fell more often than I do when I'm attempting to travel on ice, and I SUCK on skates.

I am happy to say that Bobby Ryan was back on the ice for this game. After watching him get checked and pummeled to the point where he wasn't even on the bench for most of the final period, I was just hoping to see my boy back in the lineup. But otherwise, not much else to be proud of in this game!

Honestly, I don't feel much like recapping the loss. So, let's just move on to the next game which, unfortunately, wasn't a win either.

Ducks vs Buffalo Sabres

I had the weirdest dream the other night. It involved Chris Pronger, an Asian girl who I totally recognized in the dream but whose name I didn't (and still don't) have the faintest idea, and a few random coworkers of mine. Yeah. Whatever.

If you wanted to sum up this game in one word, it would be aggressive.

Although our Ducks didn't really step up to that term until the second period, there was already a lot of energy, a lot of action, through the first. Hiller started in net again, facing off with Patrick Lalime in the opposite net.

The Ducks were lucky it wasn't Drew Miller's brother Ryan Miller that they'd be trying to get pucks past... I understand that boy's got some skills.

The Sabres scored the first goal of the game, at the end of a horribly unfortunate play that left my boy Bobby Ryan writhing in pain on the ice behind the Ducks' net. He had just collided with the goalscorer, ramming his right knee hard into the boards. He had to be helped off the ice and luckily, much to the cheers of the home crowd, was able to rejoin his mates after the television commercial break.

Whew! I'm willing to bet that it's only a matter of time before Bobby gets seriously injured. He's a passionate player who plays with a lot of heart. He charges head-first as he chases loose pucks... and when he hits or gets hit, it isn't a light tap. As he becomes more notorious as a Ducks' scorer, other teams won't hesitate to attempt to take him out.

As if to realize my fears, Bobby sustained a couple more injuries in this game... with opponents and with his own teammates (he collided hard with Bret Hedican at one point).

The Ducks amped up their game in the second period. More time was spent in the Sabres' zone, more shots on Lalime. And again, Bobby went down as the wind was knocked out of him. He struggled to make his way back to the bench, blocking a shot on goal by Brett Festerling as he did. That play ended with a fight between Corey Perry and a Sabre.

Once Bobby got his breath back, he led a charge down the ice 3 on 2 towards the Sabres goal. Lalime managed to cover the puck, but Bobby nearly crashed into him. And that started a second scrum... and another man in each penalty box.

The Ducks power play came on hard and strong during this game, I was proud to see our boys fighting so well. A few minutes after halfway through the game, it paid off. Pronger's one-timer found the net, thanks to Todd Marchant's effective goalie screen, and the game was tied, 1-1.

Bobby had his incident with Hedican shortly after that goal, sending both players reeling across the blue line. Just not a good night for my boy!

And then, another fight. Craig Rivet starts pushing Chris Kunitz, Kunitz pushes back. And Rivet tries to control himself (he'd already paid five for fighting with Perry), yet his smirk triggers Steve Montador to throw the gloves down and attack.

As Montador and Rivet go at it, another scuffle starts up at the bottom of the Sabre net. The overhead shot of the rink reveals gloves and sticks strewn all over the ice.

It's really quite exciting.

I think our boys think so too, there are a bunch of smiles on the guys sitting on the bench.

Another fight instigated by Sabre's Weber, as he challenges Ryan Getzlaf. Getz doesn't bite, and Weber is sent to the penalty box. Another Ducks power play. No goal, but Ducks end the period with 20 shots versus Sabres' 6... and another tussle.

The tie is broken during the first half of the third period with a beautifully executed pass from Teemu Selanne to Andrew Ebbett who bumped the puck into the goal crease right as Chris Kunitz arrived on-scene. Kunitz sent the puck cleanly between Lalime's legs and brought the Ducks into their first lead of the game, 2 to 1.

The puck again spends most of its time in the Buffalo zone. The Ducks capitalize on a power play, with Montador slapping from the blue line, and the puck doing a little dance between the Sabre netminder's legs. Perry spots the puck dawdling in front of the goal line and he's in the perfect position to tap it in.

Even before the announcer can finish declaring the Duck goal, George Parros goes fist to fist with a Sabre. He's still in the penalty box when Drew Miller gets penalized for hooking, creating a much-needed Sabre power play. They only manage to make two shots on goal. There's a turnover that has Kunitz charging down the ice towards Lalime. His shot doesn't go in, but it's a thrill to watch our Ducks take so much control over a very frustrated and tired Buffalo team.

Apparently not tired enough to not score. Rivet lands a goal off an ill-placed Hiller rebound, narrowing the Ducks' lead, 3-2.

Bobby has been conspicuously missing from the Ducks' bench for at least the past couple of minutes... his injuries appear to be catching up to him. I'm just hoping we'll see him at the next game.

With less than two minutes left in the game, Pronger gets an interference penalty. Big chance for the Sabres to tie it up. Despite the 6 on 4 mismatch (Buffalo gets yet another man on the ice after Lalime is pulled from the net), the Ducks manage to hold on.

A great game results in an even greater win for the Ducks, 3-2.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ducks at Colorado, vs Avalanche

I would have been home to watch this game as it happened, but Saturday afternoon found me exploring the Southwestern-flavored countryside of Scottsdale, Arizona. That was the tail end of a road trip to see Avenged Sevenfold.

Anyway! I had a nice Ducks game waiting for me in my VCR once I got home.

Jonas Hiller started in net again. If you're making saves and you're hot in between the pipes, the coach will keep starting you. Hiller is now ranked third in goals against average.

This game is a record breaker for Teemu Selanne, his 617th game with the Ducks. That's the most games played by any player for the Ducks in the history of the franchise. Congrats, Teemu!

A lot of speed skating and quick goals on net in this game. The Avalanche are super-quick on the ice. Just as I started to wonder about the partnering of Bobby Ryan with Ryan Carter and George Parros, a play ends with Bobby getting pushed, and then pushing back, and then a potential fight breaking out and risking our star Duck... and then you see Parros come charging in. I guess, if you've got Big George on your line, guys will think twice about messing with you.

The first Avalanche goal comes during a power play. The Ducks answer quickly back with a beautifully executed goal by Parros. Ryan Getzlaf faked a shot, sending Avalanche defenders flying in the wrong direction, then passed back to Brendan Mikkelson who slapped the shot toward the net where it was knocked in by Parros.

Lots of excitement in the first period, including an unfortunate four-minute penalty by Corey Perry. There was also an amazing breakaway play by Chris Kunitz, who single-handedly rushed the goal, faked Avalanche netminder Peter Budaj and tried to stuff the puck into the right side of the crease, only to be blocked by a Budaj's leg pad.

Towards the end of the first period, Ducks take the lead with a goal scored by Getzlaf, assisted by Kunitz and Perry. I'd like to say it was a doozy of a shot, but actually, I think it was more of a mistake on Budaj's part. He probably should have been able to make that save.

It's okay though, we'll take it! Getzlaf goes on to make one goal and two assists in this game.

The second period showcases a lot of back and forth with the puck, but a short-handed goal comes out of a high-sticking Avalanche penalty. The Avalanche ties it up, 2 to 2. They quickly follow it up with another goal, pulling them into the lead, 3 to 2.

There were some big mistakes in the second period for the Ducks, both of which resulted in the Avalanche goals. But finally, another power play for the Ducks, and they regain the tie with a pretty backhanded pass from my boy Bobby straight to Scott Niedermayer who, all in one fast motion, slaps it into the goal. That extends Bobby's point streak to seven games straight, a rookie record.

The next play results in a huge tussle in front of Hiller at the crease. Amazingly, the puck didn't go in. Kudos to Hiller for some fantastic saves there! As the smoke clears, Brett Hedican is left bent over in pain, blood shooting from his face onto the ice. The replay reveals an Avalanche elbow connecting with Hedican's nose.

Ugh. No penalty there. Is it just me or wasn't Corey Perry suspended for four games because of an elbow-to-the-face offense?

Speaking of injuries, there seems to be a lot of them for the Ducks with this game. Pronger and Bobby each take a high stick to the face, Hedican takes an elbow to the face, and Getzlaf takes a puck to the face. Geezus.

The tie is broken in the first half of the third period, an awkward yet successful goal by Selanne, assisted by Andrew Ebbett, his second point of the season (both earned in this game). The cameras caught Selanne sitting on the bench after his goal, accompanied by the veteran's two rookie linemates, giving each of them appreciative shoulder pats.

It just gives you the feeling that Selanne, the veteran star, remembers being an up and coming rookie, and is doing his part to encourage the new boys.

The last few minutes of the third period were nothing but a nail-biter. Players and pucks strewn all about the Ducks' zone, everyone fighting furiously to bring/deny the equalizer. I'm absolutely amazed that Hiller didn't give up any goals in scramble after scramble. Unbelievable! Playing a very offensive defense, the Ducks manage to deny the Avalanche, pulling a win 4-3 and their ranking up to fifth in the Western Conference.

Go Ducks!

My Zimbio
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