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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ducks vs Chicago Blackhawks

This is a big one, folks. Our hometown heroes have managed to string two wins together, but can they even hope for a third? The Chicago Blackhawks team that has rolled into Anaheim is a scary one. Touting their own line of red-hot young guns, a newly-healed Marian Hossa, and bigtime goaltender Cristobal Huet, it's important that our boys show up strong in this one.

And they do, but not before some sloppy play by both teams in the opening minutes. A number of turnovers and odd-man rushes have J.S. Giguere and Huet pulling the big saves.

Yours truly is elated to see Jiggy absolutely rocking between the pipes.

The Chicago power play isn't something you want to see very often, but our Ducks flirt with it twice in the first period. Luckily, our PK is looking strong tonight. They've improved nicely over the last couple of games. In similar fashion, they prevent the 'Hawks from scoring both times.

The Blackhawks do a little penalty killing of their own, but not quite as successfully as our Ducks. Ducks strike first with a power play goal, a beautiful display of Corey Perry skills. Ryan Whitney at the blue line tosses a puck towards the net, and it hits Perry in the gut. The puck then drops to the ice, with Perry waiting patiently. In one motion, he sweeps the puck to Teemu Selanne on the other side of the crease, and Teemu pops it in.

Perry's assist on that Selanne goal ties him with none other than Teemu Selanne in the franchise high 17-game point streak (set back in 1999).

Ducks go into the first intermission leading 1-0.

Our hometown heroes burst into the second period with energy, taking advantage of Chicago's turnovers in the neutral zone to get the puck in deep.

Again, I'm impressed with Evgeny Artyukhin on our Finnish line. In one instance, the whistle blew as Saku Koivu knocked a puck that was easily covered up by Huet. A 'Hawk takes the liberty of pushing Saku while he's following up near the crease and Tuuk, coming to the aid of his linemate, converges on the guy and gives him a good shove back.

I'm liking that opponents will think twice before pushing around our veteran Finns because they'll have all of 6'5", 270-pound Tuuk to answer to. Way to back up your mates!

Capitalizing on another Blackhawk penalty, Selanne comes up big again. Captain Scott Niedermayer gets the puck to Getzlaf who streaks up the slot and backhands it towards Huet. Stick battling with a 'Hawk defender right in front of the crease, Selanne gets a piece of it, bounces a carom off his stick, and sends it into the net.

I can't believe it, Ducks lead 2-0.

"This team would not be the Ducks without Teemu."--Giguere

Blackhawks take yet another penalty, with Byfuglien taking an uncalled for liberty on Jiggy, falling all over him, knocking his mask off, and sending a forearm and a knee into the back of Jiggy's head. In anger, Jiggy rushes him and gives him a good shove, but nothing that will get him a neutralizing penalty. Byfuglien gets two minutes in the box and our boys take advantage once again.

This time, it's a simple slap shot from the point by Nick Boynton. Clean path for Nicky's rocket of a shot, which is screened by Kyle Calder. Nicky's first goal as a Duck brings big smiles from the D-man, and yours truly is very happy to see Nicky rewarded for all of his hard work thusfar on the blueline. An assist point goes to my boy Bobby Ryan.

Despite the three goals, I have to hand it to Huet for keeping the damage to only three goals. Our boys are coming on hard, and Huet has had to make some great saves.

Ducks take the 3-0 lead into the second intermission.

The third period sees more good play from our boys. Blackhawks fight feverishly for a goal, but Jiggy denies their every bid. No additional goals (but lots of close calls) for our Ducks in this period, but they don't need any. Jiggy gets his first shutout of the season, and our boys snap the 'Hawks 8-game winning streak.

Another interesting factoid, this is Jiggy's 32nd career shutout. Incidentally, Miikka Kiprusoff (whose team our boys played earlier this week) also had his 32nd career shutout today, in a game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Great job, guys! Arguably your best game of the season to date. Let's keep climbing!


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