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

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ducks at Columbus, vs Blue Jackets

After last night's bitter loss to the Detroit Red Wings, yours truly wasn't sure if handling another tumultuous Ducks game sounded like a good idea. However, as much as it sometimes pains me to watch, I can't NOT watch my Ducks and, even after a couple of losses, I'll always hope that maybe the next one will be different.

Jonas Hiller would start between the pipes for this one, while Steve Mason would start at the other end of the ice for the Blue Jackets. Mason himself knows something about hoping the next one will be different. Last season's Calder trophy winner, and Columbus' only reason for even making the playoffs, Mason has been hit by a dreadful sophomore slump.

All the more reason why our Ducks might have a chance here, even though they're playing the second of a road back to back.

As the first period opens, I'm liking how our boys are looking on the ice. They're fast and moving their feet. Brett Festerling keeps his game physical, placing a number of good hits on the opposition. Without Chris Pronger on our blue line, we've desperately needed guys to step up their physical play.

Two fights go down in the first period, one involving Sheldon Brookbank, and the other with Mike Brown and Jackets' Derek Dorsett. Later, we would learn that Dorsett broke his hand during that fight.

All around, it's a gritty game. The Blue Jackets are a feisty bunch and I'm glad our Ducks look up to the task.

Hiller is also looking sharp tonight, making some good saves with a new pair of gloves. There's a lot riding on Hiller tonight, I'm sure he knows that, and if there's a goalie who's good under pressure, it's Hiller.

Luckily, coach Carlyle has kept the Saku Koivu-Bobby Ryan-Dan Sexton line together. This one is a no brainer, but I had hoped I wouldn't have to write about my frustrations of him mixing those players around. That line is hot, doing things we've been waiting months for (secondary scoring!). And before the end of the first, they do it again. My boy Bobby Ryan gets the puck up to Saku who throws it on net. The rebound pops to Dany who's at the corner of the crease and he's able to chip it in behind Mason's left pad.

I remember reading something last season about how Bobby helps raise the point stats of every line he's on. Even big George Parros found the net a number of times when Bobby spent time on that fourth line. Personally, I'm glad Bobby has at least a temporary place to do this on the second line, where he's not hampered by the opponents' big shut-down players... guys that ultimately always end up sharing ice with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

When Teemu Selanne returns from injury, it'll be interesting to see what line changes occur. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Bobby/Saku/Dany to stay together.

Both teams return to the ice for the second period looking a bit slower than they did in the first. Ducks defense falters, but gets a confidence booster when our boys score again. This one, a definite nominee for the weekly highlight reel, showcases Bobby catching a long pass from the blue line. He takes the puck single-handedly into the Jackets' zone, speeding and twisting around defenders. He trips over a defender's stick but, as he's flying sideways through the crease, manages to flick the puck in past Mason.

It's Bobby's 50th career goal, and a beauty at that.

Unfortunately, it's soon followed up by the Jackets' first goal, a seeing-eye shot from behind the goal line.

We go into the 2nd intermission with Ducks leading, 2-1.

For the third period, the biggest problem for our Ducks will be fatigue. The shifts are kept short, and things start to look bleak when our hometown heroes take two penalties one minute apart. The Ducks PK unit will have to deal with a 5-3 situation for a full minute. The Warrior Marchant comes up big in this one, and our Ducks manage to pull through without giving up a goal.

Major confidence booster there. On their own power play, Ducks capitalize to nab that insurance goal with only a little over six minutes left in the game. Great job by Getzlaf as he keeps a defender busy in front of the crease. Ryan Whitney passes a puck across the slot to Perry who happens to be in open ice. He one-times it straight in.

As has always been a nerve-racking endeavor in the past, I watch as the Ducks attempt to protect their lead to the final horn. Hiller is absolutely phenomenal. I would have liked to see our D help him out a bit more, but Hillsy manages to carry our boys to a 3-1 win. He is deservingly awarded the first star of the game.

I have to say, that third period was the best our boys have had in a long time. They looked confident, composed, and they kept the pressure on. They even made Rick Nash (the Jacket's biggest attacker) a non-issue.

Way to go, Ducks!!


My Zimbio
Top Stories