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, November 11, 2009

Ducks at New Jersey, vs Devils

It has felt like ages since the last Ducks game, and our boys start their 4-game road trip with a contest against the New Jersey Devils. Not looking to be easy, the Devils have been doing very well. I'm sure it doesn't help our Ducks one bit that Martin Brodeur, the NHL's winningest goaltender, will be between the pipes for the Devs.

Oddly enough, this game would have seen the Niedermayer brothers playing on the same ice for the first time this season, albeit in opposing sweaters. Robbie, however, is out with an injury, so that story will have to play out next season.

J.S. Giguere flew out with his mates on the roadtrip, his groin injury supposedly healed, and Justin Pogge was reassigned once again to Bakersfield. Rumors continue to fly regarding Jiggy's future with the team. While I fully support Jonas Hiller as our number one goalie (I believe he proved himself capable during our playoff run last season), I do feel bad for Jiggy. The guy has an extensive history with this franchise; he was a superstar not too many years ago. He's also an outstanding individual, always gracious and friendly with fans. Based on principle alone, he deserves better than to be hung out to dry by the naysayers.

But that's just yours truly being sentimental. Inevitably, I want the goaltender that performs best to be in our net. Period. That's the only way our Ducks will have a chance to be playoff contenders this year.

Hiller will start tonight, but we'll most likely see Jiggy start at least once during the road trip.

An unexpected lineup change, Saku Koivu is out of this game with a lower body injury. Not too happy about this one, I was hoping to see continued production from the second line since they had seemed to begin clicking as of late. Erik Christensen will be filling in and, as good a player as he might be, he definitely can't finish like the Fins.

Right off the first faceoff, Langenbrunner slams a puck from the blue line which deflects off a stick and angles past Hiller. Devils take the lead a mere 38 seconds into the game. Not a good start, and a complete confidence buster for our boys.

I've always admired how Hiller recovers and refocuses after a goal. He doesn't get visibly emotionally shaken after he lets one in, and I'm sure that definitely helps our boys. They look fast and physical against an equally gritty Devils team. Calls seem to go our way for the first period, and the Ducks get a number of power play opportunities. Unfortunately, they are frustratingly unable to capitalize.

Within the first three minutes of the second period, our hometown heroes tie up the game. My boy Bobby Ryan speeds the puck around behind the Devils' net, passing quickly to Ryan Getzlaf in the slot. He throws the puck into traffic in front of Brodeur, who takes a gamble with a poke check attempt. He fails to make contact, however, and Corey Perry is right there in front of the open net as the puck squeezes between Brodeur's pads.

That goal extends Perry's 9-game scoring streak; arguably Perry is the hottest Duck at the moment. The Ducks are gifted soon after by another power play after a Devils penalty for too many men on the ice. One would hope they'd be able to snatch the lead, but again they can't capitalize. Our boys just can't penetrate the zone.

The story stays pretty much the same for the rest of the game. Devils pull ahead with two more goals, our boys can't get anything else going. Even on yet another too many men on the ice penalty against the Devs, there's no offense on the power plays. Hopefully not a sign of things ahead, Ducks have three more games in four days, but drop this one to the Devils, 1-3.


My Zimbio
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