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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ducks vs Vancouver Canucks

Okay guys, let's quit with the losing by one point deal. We really need to start winning some games. I hate to say it, but I don't think you guys are going to make it to the playoffs. At least, not the way you're currently playing. I understand there's lots of new guys playing now, and it's hard to get that chemistry you need to win games, but it's coming down to the line here. There's fifteen games, including tonight's, left in the season. If we're going to go down, let's go down fighting.

It's Jonas Hiller again tonight in the net. He did an excellent job against the Wild three nights ago, but we didn't get that win. As much as I'm a fan of J.S. Giguere, I'm happy to see Hiller in net. We're lucky to have two great netminders, let's use them. Early on in the first period, the Captain takes a penalty, but Hiller and our boys do a good job killing it. Hiller is controlling his rebounds, swallowing the puck or sending rebounds into the corners. Go Hiller!

George Parros and newbee Nokeleinen get a great opportunity for a goal, but Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo blocks it. But our boys get another chance on a power play after a Canucks hooking penalty. Our boys' power play unit hasn't been on its game lately, I'm hoping they'll change that this time. Pucks pass from my boy Bobby Ryan to Ryan Getzlaf, to Chris Pronger to Ryan Whitney, who somehow gets it into the net.

The fans cheer the goal, but on a second look, it's noted that Luongo foot hits the goal post allowing the puck to slip in under the net. How odd! It's deemed a no goal, much to the boos of the crowd. But rightly so, it shouldn't be a goal.

That's okay, boys. Let's get a real goal.

Another power play for the Canucks, as Wisniewski is penalized for getting his stick caught between the blade and the boot of a Canuck forward. More great saves by Hiller, no rebond opportunities. I almost feel bad for our rookie netminder. He hasn't had a break yet this game! The power play ends with 14 shots on goal for the Canucks versus 3 for the Ducks, yet the score is still 0-0.

Go Hiller!

With less than three minutes to go in the period, there's a sloppy turnover in the Canucks zone. Teemu Selanne brings the forced puck around, fakes, then shoots through the hole that opens up between Luongo's pads as he falls for the fake. The goal energizes our boys and suddenly, they're playing with renewed vigor. The first period ends with a scuffle, which will probably result in a few penalties, and a score of 1-0.

Sure enough, the second period starts with a Canucks power play as Perry gets a charging penalty. Thanks to Hiller and a very effective penalty kill team, no goals. One thing's for certain, Hiller is ON tonight.

The middle of the second finds Ryan Getzlaf fighting not once but twice for the puck against the boards. He forces it out both times and, when the puck bounces off a redirect from Erik Christensen, Getzlaf is in the right place to slam the rebound home. That's Getzlaf's 21st goal of the season, and his first since the broken nose incident.

And then, another power play for the Canucks. Lots of penalties here for both clubs, but I suppose it's expected considering the Ducks and the Canucks are the second and third, respectively, most penalized clubs in the league. You want an aggressive game? You're going to get one.

After so many shots on the Ducks goal, one of them actually goes in. Thanks to all of the traffic in front of the net, Hiller didn't even see the puck until it was under his feet. Less than a minute later, Hiller stops a shot, but it manages to squirt between his feet and results in the Canucks tying up the game, 2-2. This one was a fault of the Ducks defense to cover the opponent in front of the net. They left Hiller on his own.

At least the Ducks get a power play. The Canuck penalty kill is a strong one, players forming a wall at the blue line and making it difficult to penetrate the zone. Once our boys do manage to set up, Christensen pulls off a fancy fake and feeds Ebbett right at the net. He's denied by Luongo. As the power play expires, Christensen again pulls off a fake. He has the puck, looks one way but shoots the opposite direction towards the goal. It hits Luongo's blocker and the rebound lands right at Petteri Nokelainen who drives it home.

That's Nokelainen's first goal as a Duck and, I gotta say, I'm impressed with how our newest players are performing out there. Just think, they'll only get better as they practice more and learn the systems of their teammates. Our boys continue to pressure Luongo in the crease, making shot after shot on that goal. No additional scores, but one helluva workout for the Canucks.

Before the end of the second, Christensen makes a glorious goal, but has it taken away as Getzlaf gets penalized for goalie interference. The chorus of boos from the home crowd is deafening, even as the period ends. Is it a bad call? Hard to tell, because it looks more like Luongo's own defenseman interfered.

The third period begins with the rest of Getzlaf's penalty. The score remains 3-2. It's still an aggressive game. Lots of good hits, lots of watching Perry fall all over the ice. Our boys are pouring on the offense, often outnumbering the defense with their charge. My boy Bobby Ryan finally gets an opportunity for a perfect rebounded shot on the goal, but is robbed by Luongo. Less than a minute later, he's robbed (ROBBED, I tell you!) again by a lucky block from Luongo's skate.

Considering all of the action going on, there are very few whistles blown this period. Even as a Canuck defender crashes into Hiller, knocking him backwards into the Ducks' net, there's no whistle. The crowd boos and then breaks out into chants of, "Ref, you suck!"

I'm watching all of this and wondering how the period could be so long! I can only imagine how tired both teams are... We've still got five minutes left in the game. And then I speak too soon. A Canuck is left uncovered right in front of the net, and he makes his shot good. You can read the disappointment off Hiller's body language. With less than five minutes left, we're tied up 3-3.

Our boys get a much needed power play and, despite numerous amazing shots on goal, can't get one in to reclaim the lead. And then it's Hiller's turn to do the robbing. He even saves a shot which carems off his mask. That's not the first time we've seen that.

And then, the game in regulation ends. Five minutes of overtime. Shots fired on both netminders. Players falling all over the ice. Getzlaf gets a Canuck hook and our boys are four on three for a power play. There are a number of beautiful shots on the Canuck net, but Selanne gets a holding penalty. Now we're three on three.

Okay, here's my plan. Whatever you do, get the puck to the Captain. He'll take it home, just as he did back in February against the Flames.

We've got Pronger, Todd Marchant, and the Captain on the ice. Marchant gets the faceoff to Niedermayer who pushes it out of the far corner to Pronger, who kicks it into the open ice right as the Captain skates down. He's off, with a Canuck trailing very closely after him. He's barely in control of that puck and just manages to fire it between Luongo's arm and leg for the goal and the win.

Well deserved, boys, 4-3. Most importantly, 2 points for the playoff position race.


My Zimbio
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