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, December 23, 2009

Ducks at Denver, vs Avalanche

Yours truly was stuck at work for the majority of this game, listening to the radio feed. I'd forgotten to set the ole VCR, but hearing that there was no television feed for the first hour or so of the game, I suppose I didn't miss anything there!

The starting lineups were announced, Jonas Hiller in net versus surprise sensation Craig Anderson. Evgeny Artyukhin and Steve Eminger are healthy scratches again. I don't know about you, but I smell trade.

Listening to a radio feed at work isn't my favorite way to enjoy a Ducks' game. I'm not really listening, not really getting into the game. I can't completely focus on what my boys are doing, so I'm only reacting to major events like goals, fights, and penalties.

Oh well. The bills need to get paid.

In the opening period, the Avalanche got on the board first, and my heart sank as I heard the Denver goal horn blare. During the second, it sounded like our boys put puck after puck on Anderson, but the netminder was a complete wall blocking everything. This game would see the highest shots on goal by our hometown heroes to date this season... usually teams are sweetly rewarded for such efforts.

Luckily, the hockey gods noticed. Coming down to the last half of the third, and after the Avalanche went up another goal (2-0), the wheels suddenly fell off that Denver train. Turning the tide with a controversial goal from Captain Scotty Niedermayer, my boy Bobby Ryan got caught in the Avalanche goal crease with Anderson, arguably unable to get out of the way. It could have been a questionable goaltender interference call, but the zebras left their whistles alone.

Personally, and yes, call me a homer, but I believe even without Bobby in that crease, Anderson would not have been able to turn fast enough to block Scotty's bid on goal. He was following Ryan Getzlaf, who had sped up the middle and passed the puck to Corey Perry on the left wing before a quick feed to Niedermayer on the other side of the slot. And let's not forget the Avs defender who crashed the crease with Bobby. He would have been there, interfering with Anderson too.

Either way, it was a goal for Anaheim, and it paved the way to three more before the game ended.

The second goal (three minutes after the first) was a beauty of a play by our second line. Matt Belesky cycled the puck down low and got it behind the net to Saku Koivu. He came up from below the goal line, his Avalanche defender all over him, but does a nifty spin move to elude the defender long enough to pass that puck through the crease to Dan Sexton who had magically found open space. Sexton snapped the puck behind Anderson before the netminder had a chance to move his eyeballs.

I was able to watch the last period at home, and felt truly treated. It was as if my boys suddenly knew I was watching and decided to step up.

With that second goal, our boys tied things up 2-2. Suddenly, a point in an otherwise lost game seemed possible. And then, miracle of miracles, Getzlaf sinks another goal with less than 30 seconds left in regulation. Bobby battled for a puck in the corner and managed to get it to Perry behind the goal line. He pushed his way to the front of the crease but had the puck poked off his stick by Anderson. Over-extended, the goaltender couldn't get back into position when Getzy caught the puck milliseconds later, and lifted it over the downed netminder.

To rub salt in an already gaping wound, Todd Marchant would seal the win with an empty netter 11 seconds from the final horn.

And Duck fans would rejoice an amazing comeback that, for once, was on their side of the ice.


My Zimbio
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