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, May 31, 2009

2009 Stanley Cup finals, game 2

So, I found a few things worthy of comment about last night's Game One.

I think the Pittsburg Penguins did well. I mean, considering where the Pens were earlier this season... it's kind of like how our Ducks pretty much sucked going up to the trade deadline. And then, you get some fresh guys in the lines, you kick some veteran asses and make them realize that their post season is on the line... tada! Playoff run.

For the Pens, it was firing the coach that they started the season with and getting Dan Bylsma behind the bench. They picked up a few key guys at the trade deadline, including Bill Guerin and ex-Duck Chris Kunitz and... tada! Playoff run.

Well, maybe it wasn't that simple, but they're definitely miles from where they started. And remember, they're up against the Detroit Red Wings who are arguably the strongest club in the league right now.

I liked the speed behind the Pens. I liked their aggression. Good hits, good plays. The game was close and came down to lucky bounces for the Wings, in my opinion. Particularly the goal that the Wings have Fleury's butt to thank, and the shot at Osgood's crease which flew straight up into the air and landed directly on the goalie's back. A Red hand covered that puck and, if I'm not mistaken, someone putting a hand on a puck in the goal crease is an automatic penalty shot. Isn't it?

But all in all, it was a good fight and I'm looking forward to game 2 of this series which, is starting right about now.

Go Pens!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cup fever

The Stanley Cup finals are just about to begin. For the record, I'm predicting that the Pens will take the cup in six. Ex-Duck Chris Kunitz will score four points within the series.

Shh. I think the Wings are deeper offensively and defensively, and if Detroit wins, then our Ducks lost to the team that would go on to take the cup. That's not so bad for our boys in black and gold.

But I have a soft spot for underdogs. After their crushing defeat in the finals last year, I really want to see the Penguins win this time. And I want to see Kuni help them get there. And I want Marian Hossa to eat his "I want to be on a winning team this time" words. So yes, I'm cheering for the Pens even though I think it will be the Wings who win in the end.

It's a good thing I'm not putting any money on this!

Speaking of Stanley Cup finals, I rewatched Game 5 of the 2007 series between our Ducks and the Ottawa Senators. I think I'll always get misty-eyed, seeing our boys with beaming faces... watching Scott Niedermayer proudly hand off the cup to his brother Rob... witnessing Teemu Selanne break into tears as he realized his dream would become a reality...

Ahhh. I can't believe there would be anything more coveted in the sports world than Lord Stanley's Cup. Don't you just love this sport?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A bit of background

My computer went through a mini meltdown earlier this week and tossed the Bobby Ryan desktop background I'd been sporting all through the later half of the season. Before I headed off to Google Images, I decided to check the official Ducks site for possible backgrounds.

They did actually have quite a few new ones up.

This picture always makes me laugh. Yes, it's a great shot of the guys celebrating after Todd Marchant's stunning triple overtime victory against the Red Wings, but my eyes always go first to Scotty Niedermayer bent over on the right. In true Scotty style, the Captain isn't concerned about joining the guys in celebration but rather, to pick up the puck for Marchant should he want it as a momento.

Great shot of Jonas Hiller doing what he does best. "Huge glove save by Hiller!" Definitely a possibility, this one.

What has become Bobby's trademark celebratory move, he throws himself off the glass after his first of two goals in game 4 against the Sharks. I was at this game, lending my voice to the chants of "Bobby! Bobby!" in pride of my favorite Duck.

Hands down my favorite moment of the 2008-09 season: Bobby's beautiful spin-o-rama hat trick against the LA Kings. I saw this one at an ESPN Zone watch party. If you hadn't noticed Bobby before, people would start to notice now. Fastest hat trick by an NHL-rookie in 71 years, not to mention the fastest ever by a US-born player in NHL history.

We have a winner!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

In the meantime

I'm listening to Game 3 of the Pens/Canes Conference finals series, and Evgeni Malkin just scored his first career hat trick. Listening to the excitement of the radio commentators, I'm totally stoked for Malkin (his parents are shown on the big screen, hugging and kissing in elation, while they clean up the hats on the ice), but at the same time, I have a sick, sad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Like my buddy and Ducks official blogger Adam Brady wrote, "watching playoff hockey right now is kind of like watching your ex-girlfriend make out with another guy." Especially since our Ducks were SO. CLOSE. And I'll admit it. If they'd beaten the Red Wings, the rest of the playoff matchups wouldn't have been as challenging.

All downhill from there, as they say.

But instead, our boys have gone their separate ways to start their summers. I've been watching the exit interviews, reading about the decisions that the Ducks Suits have to make this summer. It's hardly enough Duck to take away the hockey withdrawal. I'll take it for now, but I'll admit I'm already itching for next season.

So now my question becomes, what to do with this space until the season starts up again. There won't be any games to chronicle, but I'll still bring around pictures, news bits, commentary... maybe I'll ask a few Duck buddies to be guest writers. That kind of thing.

The season may be over, but I'll try to keep us all going until training camp!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dear Duck fans

It's a sad day for us.

It didn't quite hit me last night. Even after the final horn sounded and our Ducks were down 3-4 three minutes after the Wings sealed it with a push-goal, I didn't look at the loss as THE END.

I mean, it was a huge game and I was definitely sad that we lost. Our boys battled like true heroes, closing a 2-goal lead not just once, but twice. Yeah, we lost this one, but you felt like you just had to regroup, refocus, and get ready for the next one.

The next one.

Which, for our Ducks, will be next season.

And then today, it hit me. The playoffs will continue without stories being written about our strong veteran D-line. About our young Legion of Doom offensive line of Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf. About our phenomenal rookie netminder. Getzlaf, in the ranking of top playoff point scorers, will stay frozen at his current number, while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin continue to add to theirs.

At least Alex Ovechkin is out too. Not that I necessarily dislike Ovechkin, but I'm more of a Pens fan than a Caps fan so... yeah. I'll be rooting for ex-Duck Chris Kunitz and his Pittsburg Pens to take the cup.

I know I'm not alone when I say our Ducks should be proud of how they performed. They did so well and fought so hard. First, in their push just to MAKE the playoffs. After a lackluster regular season, nobody even expected the Ducks to place. But they grabbed onto that eight seed and kept right on pushing.

They pushed the San Jose Sharks out of yet another cup run. And this time, the Sharks couldn't even get to their second round stumbling block.

Rather unfortunate, actually. Home state rivalry aside, I do respect the Sharks and their fans. I felt bad for a second or two after seeing the crushed expressions on the faces of mighty Joe Thornton and Jeremy Roenick. But for only a second or two.

The Ducks met their semi-conference final opponent in stride. Knowing how difficult it would be to upend the Detroit Red Wings, I was looking forward to the series, but not looking forward to having to deal with the Detroit fans at home games. I know every team has its share of rude, idiotic fans, but I've loathed Detroit fans most for a reason.

And wasn't it indeed a very good series? I couldn't have asked for a more heart-pounding, gut-wrenching match up.

We were never the favorite to win. Hell, we weren't even supposed to make the post season. But our Ducks did. They knocked off the number one seed and drove the number two seed all the way to seven games. And even in that seventh game, Detroit didn't nab the win until three minutes before the final horn sounded. I know I wasn't the only one thinking that, if we beat the Wings, the cup would have been ours. Lots of people still believe the cup lies with whoever won that Detroit/Anaheim series.

So, my dearest Duck faithful, it might be a sad day for Duck hockey, but there's no reason why you shouldn't be proud of your team. Hold your heads high and know that our boys showed hard-hitting skill and talent, grit and determination. Our Ducks reminded the hockey world that they were cup champs two years ago and that they still have a lot of what it takes to win the cup again. We boasted the illustrious veteran prowess of Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Teemu Selanne, and Todd Marchant. We showed good trade deadline decisions by acquiring and utilizing valuable components like Mike Brown and James Wisniewski. We unveiled a little-known secret weapon named Jonas Hiller. We demonstrated just how dangerous the Ryan/Perry/Getzlaf line can be, and they'll only get better as they mature. The future is nothing but bright.

Be excited and proud to call yourselves Anaheim Duck fans. For a little town in sunny Southern California, we've got some great hockey to look forward to.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ducks vs. Red Wings, round 2 game 7

I don't have to tell you how huge this game is. I don't have to tell you that I've cleared my evening schedule to be home watching it! It's game seven, baby. Time to put these Wings away for good! I know I have a couple of games, plus a pretty cool Duck event, to cover here in these pages. My apologies, I'll go back and fill things in for the sake of completeness. But right now, a real time account of game seven. I'm hoping my Ducks will take the series here, but I'm kinda just happy that my boys have made it this far.

Cuz honestly, who would have ever guessed they'd be playing a game seven. In the post season. Against Detroit! I think the fans are just as happy as the players are because they were never supposed to have gotten this far.

The game starts with a burst of energy for our Ducks. My boy Bobby Ryan makes a couple of shots on net. He's looking good, maybe he'll finally get on the goal board tonight. The big line of Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry/Bobby Ryan are doing well, controlling the puck in the Detroit zone despite huge defense by the Wings. A James Wisniewski bid on the net would have been in except for a phenomenal save by Osgood.

Right off, Detroit gets a penalty... and then another. It's 5-on-3 hockey for our boys for over a good minute. And this is where our Ducks fail. If they'd only managed to score on this huge opportunity, but I think they took too much time looking for that perfect shot. The remaining amount of power play our boys have left sees a couple of good shots on net, but no goals.

Then Getzlaf gets a holding call. Wings come up blank on their first power play opportunity.

No delay of game penalty for the Wings encroaching the faceoff circle after Draper was kicked out. Should have been an automatic penalty against the Wings. Lucky break.

Penalty again for Getzlaf. The call was questionable. I see a tiny slash, something that isn't even worth the delay for a penalty, even if the Wings had committed it. I don't think I'm liking the refs much in this one.

The Wings capitalize on this power play, getting a goal off an over-glove redirection by Hudler. Poor Hiller. He's been doing so well, don't lose your focus! I'm trying to send good vibes through my tv. "Don't worry guys, it's just one goal. You can do this! Don't lose faith."

I'm glad for the end of the period. The failed 5-on-3 and then the couple of stupid penalties just seemed to sap the energy out of our Ducks. They need an intermission to regroup.

Aww man, at the beginning of the 2nd, Selanne loses the puck and Helm speeds it down the ice on a breakaway. Hiller couldn't stop it. C'mon guys, still 38 minutes of hockey to play, don't get discouraged. 2-0.

If I start to see them falling apart, I swear I'm turning off the tv.

Ugh, Duck penalty. Mike Brown comes up big on his penalty kill shift. Crap! Delay of game penalty against Frankie Beauchemin for swatting the puck up over the glass. Geezus. What was I saying about falling apart? Right after, Red Wing high-sticking penalty because Hossa clipped James Wisniewski. 4-on-4.

Teemu Selanne gives up the puck and gets smashed hard into the boards. He's down on the ice for a long time. There's blood, apparently the visor cut him on the nose. You'd think there'd be at least a double minor, with blood in play, but no. Just a 2-minute intererence minor. I'm really not liking these refs. Ducks on a 4-on-3, but without the Finnish Flash. C'mon guys, avenge him!

This is frustrating. Good shot attempts for our boys, but they just can't get one in.

At regular strength, too many turnovers in the neutral zone. C'mon guys, let's get a good puck possession and crash the zone. We need a momentum shift here.

Good attempt by Getzlaf with a wrister from the blue line. But Osgood tucks it away.

After multiple attempts to enter the Detroit zone, a beautiful play executed initially by Sheldon Brookbank out of the neutral zone to Ryan Whitney at the blue line, He fires it towards the net, and Ryan Carter, keeping Osgood busy, allows Selanne to catch the rebound and knock it in.

Less than a few minutes later, Detroit regains its two goal lead. And then, to add injury to insult (in this case), Hudler completely bowls over Hiller in the net. There's a goalie interference call made, but I'm afraid of what the damage is to our netminder. Hiller looks shaken, but he's back up and ready in his crease as our boys take their fourth power play of the game.

Our boys avenge on the power play! Selanne takes it into the slot, passes to Chris Pronger who slaps it towards the net. Perry is there, and chips it home. Sweet!

C'mon boys, one more! Clear the zone, let's go! Our boys are up and fighting at the end of the second, fueled by some excellent plays and chances. Almost a shame the period has to end. But they need the intermission rest, and they can come back in the third feeling good. They're trailing only by one, the score is 2-3.

Ducks have good energy going into the third, but you can tell both teams are tired. I'm feeling pretty winded myself. The adrenaline is seriously trashing my stomach.

Lots of grinding along the boards. I want to see our boys deeper in the Detroit zone. They get whistled offsides a few times as they try to advance. Grr.

Finally, Bobby gets his due and nets the equalizer!! Beautiful play!!! Perry battles to keep the puck in the Detroit zone. Bobby chases it around the net and it's passed in quick succession one, two, three, four times. The final pass is from Perry to Bobby on the other side of the crease, and he pops it in as he's passing the net. Now it's anyone's game.

Ok boys, one more. Argh. Ducks penalty?? It's a horrible call on Selanne for not doing anything. Two minutes for lacing his skates backwards. C'mon Hiller, hold strong. We need this power kill! Yes! Marchant comes up big time.

C'mon boys, you can do this. You're tired, but so are the Wings.

My hands are shaking. Six minutes left in regulation. I have to say, even if our boys lose this one, I'm very happy with how they've played. Lots of heart, lots of grit. And tons of great hockey in this game seven. I'm dying here, but I love it!

Three minutes in regulation and the Wings manage to score. NO!!!! I thought you weren't supposed to push the blocker with the puck under it. Anyway.... c'mon guys, let's pull a miracle. You can do it.

Oh my god. A missed call on a high-stick on Wis. Shit. Bad calls. And that bad goal, ugh. Where's Brad Watson when you need him?

And that's it.

But you know, this was an amazing run for a team that wasn't even expected to make the post-season. They fought hard and they fought well, and I have nothing but pride for my Ducks.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ducks vs. Red Wings, round 2 game 4

You'd think this one started well enough. Forty-two seconds in, Corey Perry puts his Ducks on the board with a smart wrister after a feed from Chris Pronger. My boy Bobby Ryan completely a good backcheck and the Wing forward coughed the puck up right onto Pronger's stick.

Right after, there's a Duck turnover (first of many, unfortunately) and Datsyuk is seen barrelling down on Jonas Hiller. Beautiful save by Hiller!

Bobby is playing aggressively this first period, flat out plastering Hossa behind the Ducks net. I'm hoping Bobby can pull out a goal tonight, it's been a while since the boy has had one. First penalty of the game goes to Chris Pronger, for holding Hossa right before Bobby steamrolls him. Penalty killed without a goal.

Before the end of the period, the Wings get one past Hiller. It's a standard piehole shot, no screen, no traffic in front of the net. Hiller should have been able to stop that one. Worse, it's Franzen who ties up the game for the Wings.

Personally, I hate Franzen... because he's so damn good.

Our boys continued to play well through the first period. But you can tell they're being worn down by an energized Wings team determined not to go down 3-1 in the series. In the last minute of the period, another goal gets by Hiller. It's a redirect by Franzen high in the slot. I'd like to say Hiller had no chance against it, but I've seen him make that save before. *sigh*

Have I mentioned how much I hate Franzen?

The second period starts with a bang, shot attempts by Pronger and Ryan Carter, but lots of pucks bouncing off of Hiller too. And then, hope to tie up the game with Detroit gets called for too many men on the ice. Unfortunately, less than a minute into the power play, Francois Beauchemin gets called for hooking. 4-on-4 play now.

Our Ducks are turning over way too many pucks in the neutral zone, and I'm getting a bad feeling already. The energy just isn't there. Passes aren't being completed, the forecheck is lacking. Too much reliance on Hiller without giving him the defense he needs. And our Ducks seem content enough to just dump and rush. Everyone is spending way too much time in the Anaheim zone.

Not a game I wanted to see, in the flesh, get handed to the Red Wings. But it looks like that's where this is going. If you so much as look as if you're handing a game over to the Wings, they will grab it and yank it from your hands.

Especially if you keep turning your power play opportunities into 4-on-4's. Which is what the Ducks did again, five seconds into their second pp. Perry for tripping.

To make this game even harder to swallow, is the fact that I'm surrounded by way too many red jerseys. I don't mind fans supporting their team, even if it is the Detroit Red Wings, but what I hate are visiting team fans being disrespectful to the home team while being seated at home ice. The Wing fan morons sitting behind me and my coworker were the pure definition of unsportmanship. First, they start chanting for the Red Wings, which is harmless but annoying enough in the numbers they had. Then, they start swearing and yelling obscenities about Duck players. A fight starts behind us in the stands and I'm thinking, "What the hell, you might move here from your miserable little city, but don't you dare trash talk our hometown heroes on their home ice!"

I never had much love for the Red Wings, but now I flat out hate them and their fans.

It's sweet revenge when Perry gets his second goal of the night. It's on a broken play by Ryan Getzlaf towards the net, but Perry scoops up the puck and sends it in behind Osgood. That shut up those damn Wing fans. The silence is shortlived however, as Hossa finally gets his first goal of the series. And it's off a bad turnover in the Anaheim zone. Hiller isn't looking as sharp either, probably worn down.

Again, before the end of the period, Hossa scores his second. It's all downhill from here. Ducks head into the second intermission trailing 2 to 4.

I won't go into the gory details of the third period, although there were a few highlights.

After Hiller gives up his fifth goal (and promptly ruins his stellar save percentage), J.S. Giguere takes his spot in front of the Anaheim goal for the first time in this season's playoffs. I'm thinking coach Carlyle, knowing this game is in the wash, wants Jiggy to get his feet wet and see some playoff ice time. He holds fast for the time he's on the ice. There was one more goal for the Wings in the third period, but it was an empty netter. Getzlaf also shrinks his minutes on the ice down to a measly three in the third period. It's revealed later on that Getzlaf was fighting off an illness.

Hopefully two day's rest will put Getzlaf back on his game for Sunday. I'm hoping too that James Wisniewski will have recovered enough from his lung contusion to play a bit on Sunday. Nobody wants to admit it, but I do think our Ducks suffer a bit by his absence on the blue line. Hell, I miss seeing Wis out there. The boy was one of our most valuable acquisitions out of the trade deadline.

Ducks manage to get one more goal on the board thanks to a power play after Bobby gets tripped so badly he flips over onto his head. This time, our Ducks don't go and dash their pp with a minor penalty. Perfect execution, from the win off the faceoff, the puck handled then by Getzlaf, to Perry who passes to Scott Niedermayer open on the left wing.

And then there's Frankie's big fight against Kopecky. Post-game interviews revealed that Kopecky asked Frankie to go. The guy must have a death wish, has he seen Beauchemin?? Sure enough, he ended up possibly fracturing something in his face, which was basically abused like a rubber punching bag by Frankie's fist, and is now out for Sunday's game. It was nice having that extra energy and momentum. Considering the game was already a loss and having Frankie off the ice for five minutes wasn't going to make that big of a difference in the final tally, I admire the attempt to give us home fans a little something to raise our chins to.

Okay boys, this one was bad, but we can and will do better on Sunday, right?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ducks vs. Red Wings, round 2 game 3

No worries, hockey fans, I'm here. Unfortunately, it isn't the blogging that pays the bills and, in order to keep the electricity on and the internet running, I have to devote the majority of my time to non-hockey endeavors.

So, I'll have commentary on the second game of this stunning series up soon. I will say though, that three overtimes isn't something that I'd like to become a habit in this series. All of that sustained adrenaline can't be good for ya.

Back home at the Ponda, the question becomes: can our hometown heroes take the lead in this series?

Some stats to brag about, Ryan Getzlaf is the point leader with 13 in the post-season. He's followed by the Pittsburg Pens' Sidney Crosby with 12. Jonas Hiller has the number one save percentage with 0.951 and is tied for first in post-season shutouts with 2. How's that for a little hockey team from sunny SoCal?

Just a minute in, our Ducks give up their first power play when Corey Perry takes a penalty for hooking. Argh! Hiller with a great save and the penalty is killed off.

Soon after, our Ducks get their first power play when my boy Bobby Ryan gets his stick slashed away by Wings big man Lidstrom. Our boys have the 2nd best power play in the NHL post season, so their chances are good here. Unfortunately, not good enough. A huge defensive effort by the Wings keeps the game 0-0.

The Ducks faceoff percentages are looking really good here in the opening period, and the wins are allowing our boys to keep their zone relatively free. Luckily, when there is a breakaway, Hiller isn't caught napping in the crease. His glove hand is hot tonight.

This game otherwise is hugely physical, and that was to be expected. The hits are hard, the moves are fast-paced. Both teams are sizzling. Playoff hockey at its best! Speaking of which, did you catch the hat tricks by both Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin in the last Pens/Caps game? That one right there validates all of the media hype between these two NHL favorites.

There's a nailbiter as Samuelsson speeds the puck towards Hiller, trying to out-wait him for the shot. Hiller holds fast, but find himself too far out of his crease as the shot is made at the goal line. The puck hits the net, and Samuelsson attempts to reach back and stuff the puck around the post, but a sprawling Hiller prevails. Huge opportunity for the Wings.

An interference penalty against Franzen gives our boys a second power play, but again, they can't capitalize.

A faceoff win in the Anaheim zone sends a remarkable pass from Ryan Carter to Teemu Selanne who then takes off with speed down through the neutral zone for a beautiful breakaway play that ends with a puck behind Osgood. First goal of the game goes to the Ducks! The screaming sold-out crowd sounds its approval.

Play goes 4 on 4 after a scrum, and then 4 on 3 when Chris Pronger gets a penalty. The roughing penalty quickly ends and then it's 5 on 4 until the period mercifully ends. The penalty kill comes up big, even starring a short-handed breakaway on the Wings net by Mike Brown. Following that up, a two on one breakaway by two of the Ducks D-men... that's different! No short-handed goals, but a positive end to the first period.

Our boys don't bring the same energy to the second (and the third) period. A lot of back and forth, up and down, shots on goal. But no changes to the penalty minutes or the scoreboard for the most of the first half of the second.

Stuart takes a penalty on a questionable interference call, and our Ducks have another power play. This time, they make good. Pronger passes back to Getzlaf who cuts down the middle of the slot, but has the puck hit back by a Wings defender. Getzlaf moves away and the puck ends up on the Captain's stick, who is following close behind. He shoots on Osgood, who blocks, and then he catches the rebound and pops it up over Osgood's glove hand before falling backwards into Osgood and the net himself. Goal!

For the first time this series, somebody's leading by two.

James Wisniewski gets hit by a puck as he's helping defend Hiller in the crease. The replay shows that it might have hit him in the upper chest/neck area. He's bent over in pain, and Holmstrom takes a cheap shot and smacks him in the face with an elbow. At this point, our tough defenseman drops to his hands and knees, blood dripping on the ice. Play is finally whistled to a stop. A stretcher has to come out for Wisniewski. I'm going to have to keep an eye on the updates with this one, whether the league even recognizes the elbow... because honestly, that's awful. The player is already injured, and then he gets an elbow directly to the face??

To add insult to injury, literally, the Captain gets sent to the sinbin off that play for hooking, and the Wings manage to get on the scoreboard during the ensuing power play.

I think we just need this period to end so that our boys can regroup.

There's another power play for our boys as Brown agitates Cromwell into taking a bad interference penalty. Attaboy, Brown. Unfortunately, no goals with the man advantage.

Ducks go into the second intermission still leading, 2-1.

Word on Wisniewski is that he took a puck to the chest and was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary reasons. Ugh. We'll see some juggling on the D-lines to make up for Wis' absence.

As if feeling the concern for their fallen defenseman, our Ducks are reeling under renewed Wings offense. Hiller has to make some big saves as the Wings pepper him with shots. Ducks are playing the majority of this period in their zone and don't seem to be able to possess the puck for any considerable amount of time.

Halfway through, a huge power play opportunity for the Wings, but the Ducks penalty kill holds strong. And then tested again, with a penalty against Drew Miller for holding. Ugh. Honestly, I can't see why the Wings can't capitalize on their numerous opportunities this period. They are easily the better team in the last half of the game. The Ducks are looking tired, perhaps frustrated. Hiller has been unbelievable, truly tested this period. I guess he's the reason why the Wings can't score. I'm watching the second ticks agonizingly by... it's as if this game just needs to end. I don't know how long our Ducks can protect their one-goal lead. Penalty over.

Hiller is at forty saves. Chants of "Hiller! Hiller!" echo around the Ponda. C'mon boys, just hold on for another two minutes!

With less than 90 seconds left, there's a faceoff in the Ducks zone. Osgood abandons the Wings' net. A crazy pileup in the crease results in the puck squirting from under Hiller just inches from the goal line. A Wings stick knocks it over the line as the zebra is blowing his whistle, followed by Pronger crashing into the net. Even though it's celebrated as a goal and the whistle might not have been until half a second after the play, it's deemed a "no goal" off the zebra's intent to blow the play dead. Wings' coach (he's also an ex-Duck coach) calls for a time-out...

But what a lucky break for our Ducks! On video review, it's definitely a valid goal, but the ref's call is the ref's call. How many times have the Ducks been on the bad end of a ref's whistle? Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't.

Hold on for 60 more seconds! They do, the horn blows, and the players on the ice have a go at one another. Hiller raises his arms in victory and then stands back in his crease, watching the scrum. Whew! What a game! Our boys hang on, clawing and scraping their way over the finish line to take the lead in the series, 2-1.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ducks vs. Red Wings, round 2 game 1

I had to drive, once again, to my parents' house to see this one. Darn Versus. Please bear with me through sketchy posting...

Catching up real fast here, our Ducks get the first goal... a nice one by Corey Perry with Ryan Getzlaf assisting. And then, a low point when Mike Brown leaves a Wing bloody on the ice after a check which, apparently, involved the player after he'd passed the puck.

A five-minute interference major resulted, including a game misconduct, with Brown off the ice for 5 minutes and the Wings capitalizing only once in that five.

At the end of the period, we're tied 1-1.

The damage has yet to be fully assessed because Brown could, very likely, get a multiple-game suspension for his hit. It's the kind of hit that the league is trying to eliminate from the game. Although, I sometimes wonder how anyone can judge intent in a hit that happens so frickin' fast... I mean, what if the recipient just wasn't paying attention?


I think the penalty completely changed the momentum and energy of our Ducks. The second period has both teams experiencing trouble effectively penetrating each other's zones. A fight breaks out behind the Wings' net after the whistle blows, Perry and Ericsson exchanging punches.

Ugh. Not good having Perry out and not putting shots on net for seven minutes total here. Somehow, I think the Wings think less about having their man out for seven minutes.

I have to say our boys are doing a good job staying out of the sinbin so far. The Wings give our boys a power play scoring opportunity off of an interference call, but no fruit on that one.

Soon after, a tripping penalty on Frankie Beauchemin. What was I saying about penalties? Argh. This one, the Wings manage to score. Not only do I not like them taking the lead, I'm also a bit peeved that Holstrom makes this goal after practically steamrolling Jonas Hiller inside his own net. Our precious goalie gets smacked so hard that his mask comes clean off.

Not even a video review for a potential goalie interference call.

I hope our boys don't feel as down as I do right now.

Teemu Selanne follows Chris Pronger's first period example and rings the post.

Ack, another penalty... George Parros accidentally chips the puck over the glass and gets two for delay of game. Soon after, Holstrom gets two for checking Pronger. And hey, if you can push a 6-foot 6-inch defenseman down onto the ice, that would have to be some push. And then a tripping penalty against Franzen. We're 4-on-3 now, hopefully our boys can capitalize.

They do! It's Selanne with a wrister from the left circle. The second period ends with the game tied up, 2-2.

The third starts with the end of the Ducks power play, no goals, but a helluva breakaway attempt as Franzen gets out of the box. Hiller proves sharp, not falling for any of the fakes and deke moves Franzen attempts on his path to the front of the net. Todd Marchant takes a penalty soon after, and the Wings get another opportunity to take the lead. No goals.

Our boys have to kill yet ANOTHER penalty when James Wisniewski gets two for hooking. Thank god for Marchant in the faceoff circle. He seems to be the only Duck with any success at the hashmarks tonight. If you let the Wings get possession of the puck on those power plays, they are very hard to stop. This penalty is killed off without any goals.

The third period is getting chippy, with guys taking penalties at nearly every whistle. I can tell you this is going to be a far more dirty and intense series than the one the Ducks played against the San Jose Sharks.

With less than a minute on the clock and it's still tied 2-2, I'm pretty much counting on overtime. Until, with 49 seconds left on the clock, the Ducks fail to clear a rebound off Hiller. Lidstrom capitalizes and slams the rebound between Hiller's pads. I saw it happening right before it did.

I was left with a very bad feeling after this game ended. This is going to be a very dirty series, and not in a good way. Our Ducks didn't start off as well as they possibly could have, especially after the Brown penalty. Well, that's okay, guys. Regroup and win on Sunday, and I'll forgive you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Get ready!

Now that we've all taken a breather after a remarkable round one, round two for the Ducks starts up tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. Tonight's game, as well as Sunday's, will be away at the Joe Louis Arena... hence the odd start times of 4pm and 11am PST, respectively. But after that, our boys come back home for games three and four.

Yours truly will be attending at least one of those games. Heck, it's playoff hockey. You wait all year for this!

The other matchups for round two also look to be entertaining. I'm particularly talking about ex-Duck Chris Kunitz and his Pittsburg Pens against the Washington Capitals. Or, as the media has already dubbed it, "Sid the Kid vs. Alex the Great."

I'll be watching the Pens games as well as our hometown heroes. As far as any predictions go, here are my completely uneducated, fan-biased, just-for-the-helluvit picks:

- Ducks vs. Red Wings: Ducks (of course) in 7, 35 total goals
- Canucks vs. Blackhawks: Canucks in 6, 30 total goals
- Bruins vs. Hurricanes: Bruins in 5, 25 total goals
- Penguins vs. Capitals: Pens in 6, 30 total goals

Now I'm off to go cheer for our Ducks. Go Ducks!!

My Zimbio
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