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

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ducks 2009 exhibition

Our hometown heroes went out on a high note with their last preseason game. This one, played at the Ponda against the LA Kings, saw what will most likely resemble our offensive lines and defensive pairings when the puck drops for this Saturday's season opener against the San Jose Sharks.

Ducks managed to keep an edge above the Kings to win it 5-4, the majority of our goals coming from the infamous Legion of Doom line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan. My boy Bobby netted two of those goals and earned the assist on another. The other goal undoubtedly had the Duck suits voicing an emphatic, "Yup, that's why we did that," as it came off a beautiful pass from Teemu Selanne speeding up the right wing, to Saku Koivu in the center who quickly tapped it to Joffrey Lupul on the left wing for a hammered home goal top-shelf.

The Ducks roster is just a few men from being complete. Yours truly has a few remarks on how things are shaping up:

Matthew Beleskey, Matt McCue, Dan Sexton, Brett Festerling, Mark Mitera, and Timo Pielmeier were all sent down to the minors. Yours truly is no hockey coach, nor do I claim to know anything about what would earn a player a spot on the roster, but I thought these boys put on an impressive show in training camp and exhibition games. Whether the issue is usability (if the Ducks actually need a player right now who possesses some of the skills these boys displayed), or just not thinking a player is ready for the NHL, I'm hoping to see them get a shot later in the season. Especially Pielmeier who, in my opinion, impressed more than Justin Pogge (our supposed #3 netminder).

The #1 goaltender has yet to be determined. J.S. Giguere and Jonas Hiller appear to be equally effective so far. While Hiller pulls a few moves that continue to make me VERY nervous (he tends to leave the crease and fall horribly out of position trying to get back in), he is still holding his own. I'm proud of Jiggy for what looks to be a much improved performance over last season, but I think many more games need to be played before we have a winner.

Despite retaining Scott Niedermayer on our blue line, the Ducks defense can use some work. Scotty can only do so much on his own, this I realize. To their credit, Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski have stepped up their game quite a bit, but I can still feel some huge holes where Chris Pronger and Frankie Beauchemin once were. Here's hoping more gelling goes on between all of the new defensive faces and our older ones. And by "older," we're only really speaking about guys who've been with the team since the last trade deadline, 'cept Scotty, of course.

The Ducks have continued their love of the sin bin. One thing is true: our penalty killing is going to have to get a whole lot better because penalties still seem to be our Ducks' middle name. I do like the Big Man, Evgeny Artyukhin, and I cheer for him every time I see him out on the ice. Heck, he's hard to miss. But Arty draws a lot of penalties. He's going to have to work on that. There's a fine line between a large, effective player and a blundering oaf who becomes a liability.

This time around, size does matter. There's a huge difference having little Andrew Ebbett on that second line with Koivu and Selanne versus Lupul. Yes, Ebbett did a remarkable job centering Selanne last season. But now that Lupes is an option, and a very viable one at that, I'm not sure where that will leave Ebbett. Unfortunately, with him on that second line, there just isn't enough size and physicality. Neither Koivu nor Selanne are big, physical players. With Ebbett as the third forward, a match up with the opponent's larger players completely shuts down that line. But with Lupes, there's at least a little equaling out of the size difference. And since we're seeing Lupes gel with his Finnish teammates, I couldn't blame coach Carlyle for favoring him over Ebbett in that role. As for other line possibilities for Ebbett, he doesn't fit in the top six, but he seems too small for the bottom six. While I would hate to see Ebbett go, he plays with such heart that you can't help but love him, he would probably make excellent trade bait for a team that would appreciate and make use of his abilities.

Either way, the fans and the players are ready and anxious for the season to start. I've got a good feeling about our Ducks this time around, hopefully it turns out to be more than a feeling.

I should be able to update and finalize the side bar pictures shortly. Shooting pictures at numerous events throughout the preseason, I believe I'll be able to replace a majority of those pictures with ones that I've taken myself. As for the blog entries, I'm debating whether I should retain the format from last season, where the game entries are mostly play-by-plays? A more time-efficient approach would be simply to provide a performance review with impressions and such. For the games I actually attend, of course, I will have pictures to supplement what would be a standard review. Any reader suggestions/comments are encouraged and welcomed!

Next up, the annual Meet the Team event this Wednesday...


HillerNtheNet said...

While I agree Jiggy looked much better last night, he was horribly out of position a few times. Having to literally JUMP into the crease doesn't bode well. Although it IS fun to see, I'd rather not have Giguere do that again any time soon!

Chris (aka Ducks54) said...

Didn't see last night's game, but I'll take your word for it! I wonder if anyone else's goalies give their fans heart attacks when they leave the crease like our do!

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