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

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.


My Zimbio
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