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 16, 2009

Ducks at Vancouver, vs Canucks

It feels like it's been a while since we've had a Ducks game.

Our hometown heroes have been busy in the interim, coming home briefly for George Parros' Cut For the Kids and the Rinks third speaker series with my boy Bobby Ryan and Matt Belesky.

But tonight, they're back on the road, and playing the Vancouver Canucks. Yours truly had a feeling this would be a battle of the goaltenders, especially with Jonas Hiller and Roberto Luongo getting the start tonight. Both teams have remarkable offensive players, defense would definitely be tested.

Even though Bobby starts off on the ice with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, he quickly heads to the bench after the opening faceoff. Good. I want to see Bobby on that second line with Dan Sexton and Saku Koivu.

As the first period unfolds, I'm noticing good play by our boys. They look hungry, and they're playing aggressively around Luongo's crease. There are a number of great scoring opportunities, after which Luongo can't help but leave a few rebounds in his wake. Puck possession is 90% Ducks.

The first goal of the game goes to Anaheim, with Saku poking a puck off a Canuck stick and creating a turnover in the neutral zone. Bobby grabs the puck and heads off to the races. He takes a brief pause as he challenges Luongo, but then wrists that sucker five-hole.

However, before the end of the first, the Canucks tie things up with a goal that Hiller didn't stand a chance against behind a Burrows' screen. It's 1-1 going into the first intermission, but yours truly believes the score doesn't accurately reflect all of the great opportunities that our Ducks created for themselves. Shots on goal in the first, 13-2 Ducks.

Props also to Sheldon Brookbank, who shined in tonight's game. Brooks did an excellent job keeping offenders to the perimeter and battling to win pucks in the corners. Keep it up!

In the first half of the second period, it was Luongo who kept his team in this game. Our Ducks capitalized on a number of sloppy plays by the Canucks in their defensive zone, showcasing excellent forechecking skills.

I'm noting Captain Scotty Niedermayer playing more offensively during this game as well. He's spending a lot of time below the circles. Interesting.

Hiller is finally called upon to make some great saves going into the second half. He folds up his newspaper and gets himself into position. I feel that our hometown heroes had started to become less dominant towards the second half of this period, especially after taking a few penalties (including a bad call of boarding against Getzlaf). Sometimes, penalties like that take the wind out of your team's sails, and I think that's the case with our boys.

And then, as if to turn the tide, Brooks comes up with a huge slapper from the blue line. Luongo makes a phenomenal sprawling save, but the rebound comes straight to Getzy and he roofs it over the fallen netminder.

Luongo makes a number of excellent saves this period, as he did during the first. Maybe we'll be able to wear him down if we show him enough rubber.

The second period also sees two sets of fights. The first is a good one between Shane O'Brien and Kyle Chipchura. It's Chimichanga's first as a Duck and he does a good job holding his own through the give and go. The second is a cheap tussle between Parros and Darcy Hordichuk, who are quickly interfered with by zebras as they stop the fight before it really gets started. Hardly worth the five minutes both boys have to spend in the sin bin.

Ducks go into the second intermission leading 2-1, and dominating 24-13 in shots on goal.

The Canucks pour it on extra heavy during the third period, as they spend way too much time in the Ducks' zone. What happened to our defense? Our Ducks look like they're caught back on their heels and Hiller is forced to make some big saves. Unfortunately, he can't stop them all, and they tie up the game.

Our boys return for the last half of the third, and decide to possess the puck for longer stretches of time in the Canucks' zone. My favorite second line has some incredibly good shifts, and Luongo is also forced to come up big.

Like I said, the goalies are battling this one out.

With only about five minutes to go, the Canucks take a tripping penalty (the first and only penalty of the period), served with a side of fries by Corey Perry. The resulting power play rewards our second pp unit. Dany gets the puck to Kyle Calder at the crease, who patiently waits for Saku to reach open ice from behind the goal line on the other side. Deftly passing the puck between a defender's legs and past Luongo who's anticipating a bid, Calder slides it to Saku who simply scoots it into the open net.

Ducks fans everywhere are undoubtedly praying at this point, hoping our boys can hang on with this one-goal lead for another four minutes.

Desperation feeds the Canucks, who pile on the energy with amazing speed and craziness during these last couple of minutes. Hiller is absolutely phenomenal, making save after save on odd-looking scoring chances. These aren't your garden variety shots on goal, there are weird bounces and rolling pucks.

In the end, he pulls his team to a win! Don't celebrate too much, boys. Get sleep and make sure you're ready to face the San Jose Sharks tomorrow. You can celebrate after that win.


My Zimbio
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