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, October 31, 2009

Ducks vs Vancouver Canucks

Our hapless Ducks went into tonight's contest against the Vancouver Canucks with the loathsome record of 3-6-1, second worse in the Western Conference. Having sat through three gameless days with the bad taste of Monday's 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs lingering in their mouths, our Ducks sounded determined to turn things around.

As a fan, I can say, "Oh, I've heard that before..." and roll my eyes. But, as a TRUE Ducks fan, I can say, "Okay boys, we still believe in you, the season is still young, let's fight for this..." and then pray that we come out of tonight with a win.

The season is only young for so long, of course, and our Ducks do need to be playing better if they expect to get anywhere near playoff contention. While it's natural to feel angry and frustrated, I'd say these are the times that are the most important to show our support for our boys. After all, anyone can support a winning team. Only loyal fans stick with a losing team.

It was with a certain amount of anxiety that fans filed into the Ponda Friday night, Halloween Eve. Would our boys leave dressed as game winners? Or would they drop yet another game and fall officially into last place (the Minnesota Wild won their game that night so a loss would drop our Ducks to the bottom)?

Duck's starting lineup during the National Anthem, probably saying their own prayers under their breaths.

The night started off bleak, with the Canucks finding the net a mere 66 seconds after puck drop. They would score again for a 2-0 lead later in the first period.

Bobbyhead surveys the miserable scene from the 224B Suite Box

And then, miracle of miracles, our boys decide to show up. Jonas Hiller would pull his game together to stop every remaining Canuck shot on goal, Corey Perry decided to add to his point tally as lead scorer for the team, and our fourth line rallied to put some points on the scoreboard too.

Perry's first goal would come towards the end of the first, as Joffrey Lupul shot a tight pass to him at the top of the slot. Converging on the net, Perry wristed the puck past netminder Andrew Raycroft.

Our Ducks would blow the game wide open in the second, with big George Parros and Mike Brown scoring their first goals of the season. Georgie's goal came from a bid on net by Ryan Carter, thankfully back on the ice since his foot injury. George was right in front of Raycroft and, falling through the crease, pushed the rebounding puck twice, the second time past the goaltender.

Mikey's goal came off an odd-man rush. He, along with Carts who assisted, sped towards Raycroft and cleanly netted the puck with a neat backhander. A nice career-first shorthanded goal for Mikey, scored against his former team.

Mike Brown, I repeat, one of the best things we ever picked up from Vancouver

Perry would put in his second goal of the night before the period's end with a tip-in in front of his favorite spot in the crease. My boy Bobby Ryan would grab an assist on this one, and then put in his own goals in the next period. Captain Scott Niedermayer grabbed the second assist, his official 700th NHL point. We fans gave him a standing ovation.

The large number of Canuck fans before us sat begrudgingly as Duck fans jumped to their feet to celebrate another Duck goal

Bobby's first goal came off a beautiful cross-slot feed from Ryan Getzlaf during the power play. Bobby quickly converted with a slap shot that beat Cory Schneider, who took over for Raycroft at the start of the third. His second goal came less than three minutes later, with Perry lending the assist. Bobby caught a rebound off Schneider and was able to wrist it over the netminder's pads. See, good things happen when you hang around the crease!

Yours truly is personally VERY happy to see Bobby add to that goal tally, and judging by the huge grin on his face after, I don't think I'm the only happy one!

By this time, the Duck victory was safely in the bag, but just to be safe, the Ponda thought it might help out with a fluke goal that sealed the Canucks' fate, 2-7. Lupes would send the puck along the glass and into the Canuck zone and Schneider, expecting to move things along behind the net, left his crease to meet the puck. A strange bounce off a stantion angled the puck directly at an open net. Lupes would get credited with the goal, one of the strangest ones I've ever seen live.

But we'll take it!

Bobbyhead kickin' it on the suite couch. Scoring two goals and an assist in one game is tiring! (photo courtesy of @HillerNtheNet)

It was like our boys could do no wrong, at least for the 2nd and 3rd periods. The Duck faithful fans in attendance were strongly rewarded for their loyalty, and we were more than happy to be there. Now, if our boys could only use this newfound energy to springboard a winning streak?

Ducks celebrate a long-awaited win with second star of the night, Jonas Hiller

First star of the night, Bobby Ryan

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Duckie in the Big Apple

As mentioned in the previous entry, yours truly spent a few days in New York, specifically Manhattan. While I was away, our Ducks played home games against the Dallas Stars on the 21st and the Columbus Blue Jackets on the 24th. Both games were losses, 2-4 and 4-6 respectively, but I'll comment positively that we weren't shut out.

Notables on the Dallas game, which I was able to watch after the fact:

Ryan Getzlaf's first goal this season was a fancy display of deft puck handling, with a quick shot between Marty Turco's arm and blocker. Getzy wasn't the only one happy to see him finally get one up on that scoreboard.

James Wisniewski returned after a shoulder injury. Thank god Wiz is back on the ice. We can't afford to be down any defensemen this season, more or less one as pivotal as Wiz. He was looking good too, completing hits and sweeping pucks out of the slot.

Jonas Hiller (and J.S. Giguere) need to stay within their paint. Something discouraging that was pointed out to me by one of my more goalie-oriented Duck pals, our netminders are handling the puck a lot more this season... and the effects haven't been favorable. Our goalies are getting caught repeatedly on the wrong side of the net, gift-wrapping soft goals for the opponent. I don't know if it's an ill-effect of a Pete Peeters lesson or what, but it needs to stop. When he was actually in his crease, Hiller did a great job with the saves.

My boy Bobby Ryan trading places with Joffrey Lupul. Not a fan of coach Randy Carlyle's constant switching up of the lines, I do like the new line combinations of Perry-Getzlaf-Lupul and Selanne-Koivu-Ryan. Ducks' second goal came off a pinball pass from Perry to Lupul in the slot. One can only hope Carlyle will keep these boys on these lines long enough to actually gel a bit.

It didn't look like a bad game, honestly. Our boys still lack that confidence that allows them to be the aggressors on the ice, but I thought they did a good job creating scoring chances for themselves.

The night after the Dallas game, Ducks Joffrey Lupul and Ryan Carter appeared at the Huntington Beach Inline for the first of the season's Rink tours. For coverage of the event, click here.

I wasn't able to watch the Blue Jacket game at all, but highlights included two goals from Lupul, one from Captain Scott Niedermayer, and one from Selanne. Jiggy was doing a good job between the pipes until a too-quick save aggravated his previous groin problem. Hiller took over for the remaining minutes. You'd think that, with four goals, you'd win the game. Not so when your opponent gets six.

While in Manhattan, I couldn't pass up a visit to the NHL Store. Conveniently located a few quick steps from the Rockefeller Plaza, I spent nearly two hours at this mecca of all things pro hockey.

Hockey goodness in the heart of the Big Apple

Yay, Ducks gear right in the front display

While there was limited representation of West Coast teams (as I had expected), pre-customized player jerseys were a steal should you find your favorite player in the racks

Home of the NHL Live radio show every weekday afternoon

The store also boasts the only NHL-themed Starbucks... which really came down to a wall with hockey-type paintings

If you're a hockey fan, no trip to Manhattan is complete without a visit to the NHL Store. Make sure you put aside an hour or two!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ducks vs Toronto Maple Leafs

My apologies for being behind with the blog here, but yours truly has been out of town! More on that later. I guess, based on our hometown heroes' performance of late, they might as well have been out of town too.

Thanks to extra tickets courtesy of a Ducks Twitter pal, yours truly was able to attend last night's contest against the previously winless Toronto Maple Leafs. It would be a homecoming for ex-Duck D-man Francois Beauchemin, ex-Duck goalie coach Francois Allaire, and ex-Duck GM Brian Burke. Personally, I wanted to see the video tribute our Ducks had planned for Frankie Beauch, and honestly, I could have left the game satisfied after that tribute.

Looking back, it wouldn't have been a bad idea.

For the record, I will never leave a Duck game early. No matter how badly I'll want to gouge out my eyeballs and throw them at the ice, I will not leave my boys before the final horn. Last night was a true test of such sentiments.

Having not been witness to our last couple of games, I'm not sure if the complete mess I saw before me has been par for the course for our boys, or if there was an entire breakdown of professional hockey play as we know it. At times, it was like watching a peewee hockey game, without the cute little roly-poly goalies.

This behemoth is what I stared at blocking the Leaf net:

Jonas Gustavsson, aka "Holy sh!t, look at the size of that goalie!"

Maybe our boys were completely freaked out by him too, I don't know. I can't even begin to explain what happened last night, but when mild-mannered Scott Niedermayer ends up in the sin bin twice (once for roughing, mind you), Corey Perry gets a double penalty for roughing which, by the way, is not in the rule book, and other non-box-residents such as Saku Koivu and Bobby Ryan find their way behind the penalty glass... you know that it is a very bad, bad game.

One of few highlights, George Parros taking out heavyweight Leaf Colton Orr

Ducks did manage to score. Petteri Nokelainen would get the first goal of the night, and his first this season, with a beautiful slap shot from the point. My boy Bobby would finally get his second goal of the season, a wrister punched top shelf, complete with uber-elated celebration afterwards, and Perry would pop a Brendan Mikkleson deflection to make it three for the night compared to Toronto's six.

Otherwise, much of the game looked like the majority of my photos:

Wha, is that Niedermayer at the bottom of that heap??

The Captain AGAIN??


This was no hockey game, ladies and gentlemen. This was one team getting under the skin of another team and completely picking them apart from the inside out. Our Ducks reacted like a tormented little brother who has suddenly had enough and decides to break out in a 60-minute temper-tantrum. Some questionable calls by the refs certainly didn't help, but c'mon. Bad calls? Not like our Ducks haven't had their share of those.

Ducks need a time out. Go stand in the corner and think about what you've done. You can come back out when you're ready to play like a good hockey team. I'll check on you Friday...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rinks Tour - Getting to the NHL

While yours truly was busy bumbling about the streets of lower Manhattan, Ducks fans back home were treated to the first of the Rink Tour speaking series. Joffrey Lupul and Ryan Carter spoke in front of an audience of Duck fans and youth hockey players at the Huntington Beach Inline rink about their experiences playing in college and junior hockey leagues.

The following pictures and story graciously provided by my Ducks Twitter pals @HillerNtheNet and @SKeleven, respectively.

Lupul played junior league games with the Alberta Medicine Hats. He talked about long bus rides and a packed schedule of 75 games per year that didn't leave much time for school. (Click thumbnails for larger pics)


On the opposite end of the spectrum, Carter's early hockey career consisted of college league involvement with Minnesota State-Mankato. Playing only 40 games a year, players had more time to focus on school and classes.


Many of the kids in the audience also got a chance to ask Lupes and Carts a few questions. And, as always, the boys were nice to sign autographs for everyone.


To read more about the event, please check out SK's blog post.

Can't wait for more public appearances and insider info from future Rink Tours!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ducks vs St. Louis Blues

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I don't really know what to say about our Ducks game against the St. Louis Blues (0-5), so I'll let this picture do the talking.

Ref: "Yeah, you guys didn't show so... we gave the two points to the Blues."
Teemu: "Wait... we had a game last night??"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Face-Off Fest 2009


Yours truly isn't a Ducks season ticket holder (the job that pays the bills prevents me), but was graciously invited by fellow Ducks Twitter pals to their extra ticket for the Ducks annual Face-Off Fest.

Check out that line of season ticket holders waiting to get in!

The evening had exciting events scheduled including locker room tours, player autographs, and skating on Ponda ice.

Skate session sign-ups

Hockey Spot activities for the kids

Scott Niedermayer came out early to start his autograph session as fans stood in lines longer than those at Disneyland on Labor Day weekend

Saku Koivu, always so sweet and gracious in person

One good thing about being sick, I couldn't smell how stinky our boys' locker room was


Little reminders for good sportsmanship. I wanted to add my own: "Kick the other team's butt!"

J.S. Giguere and Jonas Hiller get geared up side by side. "Are you playing tonight or am I?"



Diagram a few plays, check who's a healthy scratch, and leave yourself a little note to pick up milk on your way home

The best part about the evening was getting the chance to hang out with some of the amazing Duck friends I've made. Hockey is so much more fun when you have fellow fans to share your excitement with!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ducks vs Minnesota Wild

It's the Ducks first home game since the forgettable home opener against the San Jose Sharks. Duck fans can agree, we want a do-over. They're up against the same Minnesota Wild team that evaporated a three-goal Duck lead to win in overtime. Duck fans can also agree, we want our two points back.

Koivu versus Koivu, part deux

Right in the first two minutes, Corey Perry intercepts a loose puck in the neutral zone through a bad shift-change by the Wild. He takes advantage of the turnover, speeds to the net, and pops a slick backhander past goaltender Niklas Backstrom.

Our boys, as a whole, were looking real sharp in this first period. It's a welcome improvement from first periods past, where our boys have always been out-shot, out-goaled, out-forechecked, out-faceoffed, out-skated, and basically out-played.

Perry potted a second goal less than seven minutes after his first, off a perfect feed into the slot from my boy Bobby Ryan. Perry whipped the puck around and, using his patented patience, waited until Backstrom went down to shoot over him.

Those waited-out goals by Perry, they are things of beauty, people.

Man of the game, Corey Perry, and NHL On the Fly's "Performer of the Night"

Again, yours truly is loving having offensive forwards on our penalty killing team. There's just a different tone set by having boys like Bobby, Saku Koivu, and Ryan Getzlaf killing penalties. I might go so far as to say it could be a little intimidating for the other team to go up against Getzy out there on a PK. You turn that puck over and a shorthanded goal could only be seconds away. Additionally, our boys did a great job keeping the opposing power play from setting up and taking shots on our net. The Wild didn't get any man-advantage goals.

Speaking of our net, it's Jonas Hiller who got the start this game. He looked excellent out there, making some amazing saves with his lightning-quick lateral movement.

Hillsy tapping his stick on the ice to rally the boys.

Our fourth line even got a piece of the point pie, putting together a simple yet effective play. George Parros kept Backstrom's attention occupied as Mike Brown's rebound was smacked cleanly into the net by Ryan Carter.

Carts, Petteri Nokeleinen, Getzy, and Joffrey Lupul. Carts would pen his first season goal tonight.

Of note, Erik Christensen centered Saku and Teemu Selanne and did a terrific job this game. He had a number of shots on goal, and probably wouldn't have been denied so many times had anyone other than Backstrom been in net. I'd love to see him out there on the second line again, maybe he's the missing link.

Evgeny Artyukhin dropped gloves for the first time this season with ex-Duck Shane Hnidy. Tooks owned, 'nuff said.

The Wild would answer two of the three Anaheim goals, but they wouldn't get the comeback this time. Two points and a win at home for our Ducks, 3-2.

Ducks faithful waited anxiously for Perry to earn his first NHL hat trick, but it was not to be this time.

Ducks celebrate a win with netminder Jonas Hiller.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ducks at New York, vs Rangers

Our hometown heroes start off a long home stretch tonight in their game against the Minnesota Wild. Yours truly is hoping they take back those two points they so ungracefully lost last week. With Wild forwards Sykora and Clutterbuck out of the lineup with injuries, I think our Ducks have a good chance of winning this one.

In the meantime, I will mention that our Ducks finished off their 4-game road trip with an afternoon scuffle against the New York Rangers. A completely unremarkable game, our boys were tired and lifeless much through the first period. They picked up a bit in the second and third, but couldn't generate any offense. To his credit, J.S. Giguere was on his game, practically standing on his head to keep Ranger pucks out of his net for the first two periods. He kept the final score from becoming something along the lines of 0-13.

Ducks were shutout 0-3, with the Rangers scoring three times in the third period, before heading back to the West Coast.

Overall, the road trip generated a total 5 points. Not too shabby. Let's hope they can improve on last season's lackluster home stats.

In other news, Ducks winger Joffrey Lupul has been brought on to write a blog for the Ducks official site. Lupes has a candid style of writing which makes his blog a fun read. There's a link to a form that allows fans to send questions and comments to Lupes; he'll answer the best questions in upcoming posts. The link to his blog, "In the Loops" is in the sidebar.

Joffrey Lupul shares the puck experience from a player's point of view

Monday, October 12, 2009

Coyotes vs Columbus Blue Jackets (road trip)

,While our hometown heroes were making a monumental comeback in Philadelphia, yours truly and fellow Ducks Twitter pal @vegasjeff had completed a 6-hour trek through the desert to sunny Glendale Arizona, home of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Yes, I know this is an Anaheim Ducks blog, but I'm all about promoting our wonderful sport in general, and even more so because I'm a little soft towards our controversial ice boys in the desert. Besides, a good promotion is a good promotion, and $25 lower bowl seats + t-shirt at Arena for their "Welcome Back Whiteout" is no laughing matter.

The Whiteout home opener versus the Columbus Blue Jackets had sold out days ago. There were limited standing room tickets available, but you'd be hard pressed to get your hands on them. Before the game, the area outside the arena was busy with a live band, radio and television coverage, and tons of fans dressed in Coyote jerseys. It was actually quite impressive.

Festivities abound celebrating the Coyotes home opener

Entering the arena, each ticketholder was given a white "Welcome Back Whiteout" Coyote t-shirt. The effect of all those white shirts in the stands was breathtaking. I'd love to see our Ducks do something similar someday.

Bobbyhead's wearing his white and eagerly waiting for puck drop!

Introducing your 2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes


For what it's worth, the Coyotes played a good game, but they just couldn't buy a goal. They hit posts, crossbars, and had a goal waved off... it wasn't going to be. Ex-Duck Ilya Bryzgalov looked sharp in net but the Yotes would get shutout in their home opener, 0-2.

My personal favorite, Matthew Lombardi at the faceoff dot with none other than ex-Duck Samuel Pahlsson

Yotes and Jackets mixin' it up after the whistle

I also have to give a nod to the Coyotes fans in attendance. They packed the stands, they cheered, they were constantly on their feet with rallying cries of "Let's go Yotes!" These were true hockey fans, and they had hope for their boys even down to the last second. You could feel the energy in the air. To anyone who had any doubts, hockey DOES have a strong fan base in the desert.

Such an incredible crowd!

Bobbyhead showed his support for the desert dogs too. Next time, he wants the opportunity to howl after a Yote goal... unless he's playing, of course.

My Zimbio
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