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!
"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 21, 2009
Bobby Ryan versus Steve Mason.