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

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.


Leo said...

Since they're going to win, I'll bring my ear plugs. Hot dogs work too, but they're a poor replacement for ear plugs.

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