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, 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.


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