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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ducks vs Carolina Hurricanes

"Please, please... don't let our Ducks be the first road win for the Candy 'Canes! Please don't let it be like the Leafs all over again!"

I'm sure I wasn't the only Duck fan thinking/praying our hometown heroes wouldn't slip up a win against fellow bottom feeder, the Carolina Hurricanes. The 'Canes have been fighting against a number of injuries, and we should consider ourselves lucky to not have to deal with goaltender Cam Ward.

Manny Legace, the backup's backup, would start between the pipes for the Hurricanes. The man has an astounding 11-2-2 career record against the Ducks.

As the first period unfolds, our worst fears felt like they might actually be realized. Our boys were slow and sluggish, lacking any kind of assertive presence, and fumbling a number of turnovers in the neutral and defensive zone. Very bad. 'Canes score an early goal less than two minutes in, as the stomachs of Ducks fans everywhere drop.

Kudos to J.S. Giguere for showing up at this game while the rest of his mates continued their pre-game naps, at least through most of the first period.

The only saving grace was the fact that the 'Canes weren't exactly connecting their passes either, nor did they minimize their own turnovers. It was kinda like watching a game of peewee hockey, except without the adorable roly-poly goalies.

Yours truly is a bit irked that Kyle Calder always seems to find the penalty box at every game. What's the deal, Calder? Too good to sit with your mates on the bench and you'd rather sit by yourself in the box for a breather?

I believe the early goal was a good kick in the pants for our boys. They brought on the pressure and offensive presence for the tail end of the first and were literally all over Legace and the 'Canes crease. Ducks go into the first intermission 0-1, but looking determined to grab this one back.

Ducks keep it going into the second, and have a number of strong bids on goal. Credit to Legace for some great saves. Ducks continue to pour it on through the second with lots of aggressive play, grinding in the corners, and forechecking in the neutral zone.

Apparently, it was Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne's idea to get Evgeny Artyukhin on their line, and Arty sounds extremely appreciative to be there

The penalty kill is looking much stronger too. Having a spot-on defensive team in front of you automatically makes a goaltender look that much better. And in Jiggy's case, he's feeding off the energy of his mates to come up strong in between the pipes. You'd better believe it, as soon as Jonas Hiller is back out there and this team shows up to play in front of him, he'll be stellar too.

A high-sticking penalty on 'Canes Eric Staal sends our boys on a power play at the tail end of the second. Two 'Canes defenders chase Corey Perry to the corner, but he manages to get the puck out behind him to Selanne near the crease as he's run down. Selanne makes a neat pass to the Captain across the paint. He's undefended, and winds up for a one-timer, but whiffs and turns it into a knuckler that flips over Legace and flutters into the net.

Either way, it's a goal! Ducks take a tied game to the locker room for the second intermission. Perry also extends his career-high point streak to 16 games, one short of the franchise record.

Ducks apply more heat going into the third, both of our two scoring lines coming in waves. Keep throwing those pucks at the 'Canes' net, just a matter of time, right? At least it keeps some of the pressure off our defense, which could be looking a tad better tonight.

My boy Bobby Ryan gets robbed yet again by Legace

Finally, the tide turns with the tie-breaker off a simply beautiful goal by Petteri Nokeleinen. It's initially a chippy play, as Nokie gets pushed off the puck near the boards. Kyle Calder manages to wrangle it near the back end of the circles and flip it blindly towards the wall. Nokie is magically there, after recovering from a big hit and acquiring the inside position on his 'Canes defender. He chops at the puck and sends it into the net behind a stunned Legace.

That's Nokie's second for the season and Calder's first assist as a Duck. Okay Calder, maybe I forgive you for all the time you spend in the box. Maybe. In the excitement of their celebration, the boys topple into a heap of smiles on the ice.

With only a minute and a half left in the game, Ducks net an insurance goal. You could see this one unfolding from the Ducks defensive zone. Tuuk controls the puck for a split second as he's challenged at the defensive blue line. His linemates take off on a rush, as if in anticipation that Tuuk will somehow get them the puck. And he does, chipping it quickly off the glass. Saku is there when it lands, already in full stride. He knows Selanne must be somewhere near the crease, so he sends the puck towards the net and Selanne neatly tips it in.

Tuuk to Saku to Selanne, perfect second line production with goals and assist points all around

The nightmare last-minute opponent goal unfolds yet again, second game in a row, as the 'Canes manage to bounce a fluky goal into Jiggy's net with only 53 seconds left. Thank goodness for insurance goals. Ducks snuff out any other signs of life from the 'Canes to bring a win, and two points, 3-2.

The insurance goal would become the game-winner

Thanks guys, for not giving the Hurricanes their first road win


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