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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ducks vs Minnesota Wild

"Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!"--chants from the crowd as Bobby Ryan is award the game's First Star

It was definitely one helluva game for my boy Bobby Ryan. With two goals and an assist, Bobby stepped up big time in response to the loss of Ryan Getzlaf on the top line. Getzy is out day-to-day with that leg laceration incurred in Saturday's game against the San Jose Sharks.

Teemu Selanne and Joffrey Lupul are also still out on injury, but Ducks fans would welcome back center Ryan Carter and call-up Troy Bodie in tonight's contest.

...To be continued (my apologies, I'm exhausted and fell asleep mid-post!)...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ducks at San Jose, vs Sharks

Here we are, the day after Christmas (also Boxing Day to all you Canadians out there), hoping our hometown heroes can finally come out on top for the first time this season against the San Jose Sharks.

The starting lineup announcement reveals J.S. Giguere in net versus Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov. Personally, yours truly would prefer our Shark Killer, but he ended up playing back-to-backs earlier in the week (I am still upset about that).

Nick Boynton and Evgeny Artyukhin are healthy scratches, and this worries me because 1) Steve Eminger is back out defending the blue line, after being scratched for the past 11 games, and I honestly haven't been impressed with his performance and 2) Nicky B has been doing a great job out there and I see no reason to mess with that!

Coach Carlyle, you kill me.

The game starts off very physical, as it always tends to be against these division rivals. Unfortunately, the Sharks go up first with the early lead after a whiffed feed turns into a lucky pass. Big George Parros tries to send a message soon after with a good scrap against Frazer McLaren.

Kudos to Brett Festerling who took and dealt a number of hard hits during this game. You need guys who are willing to do that, especially against the Sharks who are more than willing to exact physical payback against the team that snuffed out their playoff dreams early last season. This rivalry is alive and kicking.

By the end of the first period, the shots on goal are equal (11 each) but the Sharks are up 2-0. I'm already not liking the look of this...

The Ducks tighten up their passes in the second period, but are still not able to generate anything on the scoreboard, not even on the power play.

My boy Bobby Ryan is back on the top line along with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, with Kyle Calder down on the second with Saku Koivu and Dan Sexton. I don't know, maybe it's better to have Bobby helping out on that second line? Especially since you know coach McLellan is going to have the big Joe Thorton line out against Getzy and Perry. We need to get some kind of scoring somewhere!

As the Sharks pot yet another goal, this one has the puck pinballing between James Wisniewski and Captain Scott Niedermayer before getting past Jiggy, I can't believe how unlucky our bounces are. Getzlaf leaves the game late in the second after a self-inflicted leg laceration a la Teemu Selanne. Argh.

In tonight's game, it seems WE are our own worst enemy!

At some point, Sharks are up 5-0 and I'm about to turn off the television. Then, Kyle Chipchura knocks ex-Duck Kent Huskins away from the puck. He steals the turnover and goes one on one against Naby.

Yay, a Ducks goal! There's a collective "ThankGodItWontBeAShutout" sigh amongst Duck fans everywhere.

The third period (my gosh, there's more of this torture to endure??) sees our boys with a number of chances, but it's not until Bobby is able to grab a puck off a Perry rebound and stuff it five-hole, do we get another goal.

There's a small amount of momentum in an already doomed game, but I have to say our boys made the most of it. A series of fights break out, Chimichanga versus Scott Nichol and even rookie Matt Belesky versus Jed Ortmeyer. I'm impressed by Belesky. That kid can throw a punch!

And even in a 2-5 loss, our boys didn't go out with their tails tucked between their legs. Of course I would much rather have taken a win, but if we had to lose, at least our boys went down fighting.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ducks at Phoenix, vs Coyotes

Yours truly was working through this game as well. I remembered to set the VCR this time; however, after hearing our hometown heroes get completely blanked by the Desert Dogs, I had no desire whatsoever to watch the tape.

All I have to say is, why the heck didn't J.S. Giguere start? Ducks played a game the night before, a very vigorous game in low-oxygen Denver, and had to deal with a snow storm when they left the city. They got into Phoenix late the next day, and I'm sure the lack of rest didn't help our boys any at all.

Not that I'm trying to make excuses for our Ducks' poor performance, but when the freshest players on your roster are your healthy scratches and your alternate goalie, wouldn't you think you'd at least start that goalie??

I mean, Jonas Hiller doesn't exactly have the best back-to-back record, but even if he had, I would much rather see a rested goalie behind a tired defense.

I guess Hiller has the better record against the Coyotes, but not anymore... not with a shutout against him. He was changed out for Giguere about halfway through the third, but Jiggy still let in a goal by Robert Lang.

This one is better left forgotten. Rest up boys, enjoy your Christmas and bring it against the Sharks come Saturday.

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.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ducks vs Phoenix Coyotes



Ah, the sounds of a hockey game. The fan in front of me was busy heckling Coyotes' goalie Ilya Bryzgalov before puck drop. Not that a little heckling ever hurt anyone, but Bryz has had quite a run with the Yotes this season. He's up in the top five in the league as far as goalies go, and as an ex-Duck, I couldn't be happier for him.

Well, maybe I could be if we still had him in a Ducks sweater.

No matter, I love our goalies plenty. It was going to be Jonas Hiller in net, and that's comforting considering Hiller's record against the Coyotes. But tonight, everyone was going to have to step up. Ducks need every two points they can scrape together, especially against fellow Pacific Division foes.

Hiller was caught smiling during the anthem. Perhaps he saw Kyle Chipchurra's helmet hit the ice

I'm happy to see our boys skating well in the first, with a number of shots on goal, however nothing getting past Bryz despite back-to-back power plays. The Coyotes are looking just a bit sharper than our Ducks, fighting just a bit harder for those pucks, but they too can't capitalize on their power plays.

There's a change to the Coyote big line. Matthew Lombardi and Scottie Upshall are still there, but the third forward position is now being filled by Shane Doan. As if there was any way of making that deadly line even deadlier!

Captain Scott Niedermayer and Chipchurra attempting to shut down Lombardi and Upshall

The first goal of the game goes to Anaheim, as Mike Brown is able to be Johnny-On-the-Spot for a Petteri Nokeleinen bid that's saved by Bryz's blocker. The rebound lands in the slot and Mikey is there to chip it over the goalie's leg pads.

Mikey with the first goal

Something that has bothered me about our hometown heroes' play, and still bothers me. Why do our Ducks take so much time clearing the puck? The penalty kill has picked up tremendously, but when we aren't on the PK, I notice guys continually shooting behind the home net. Why? WHY??

Going into the second, Hiller has come up phenomenally, keeping the game 1-0. But eventually, Doan slams one home and evens up the score.

Less than a minute later, Chimichanga receives a feed from Matt Belesky at the point, and he beats Bryz point-blank with a nice backhander.

The boys celebrate Chimi's first as a Duck

By the way, big props to Belesky, who is looking awesome in this game. He's got some big physical play with strong hits and forechecks. Keep it up, Matt!

Then, the Yotes' Ed Jovanovski gets a penalty for holding. Our boys achieve some sweet tape-to-tape passing, eventually getting the puck to Getzy on the left wing, who walks it in and fires, beating Bryz short-side.

Ducks take their 3-1 lead into the second intermission.


If anyone thought Dan Sexton's skills were just a flash in the pan, they haven't actually seen this boy skate. He has a way of finding open ice. And he does it with such speed that he's almost always able to get a shot off. His shots on goal numbers are amazing, and his pucks are like homing rockets... never missing by much.
Early in the third, Ducks make a crucial mistake. A turnover in the defensive zone ends up behind Hiller, and the Yotes close the gap to one goal.

Not that we've let up offensively, Bryz has just stepped up and made a number of awesome saves of his own. It's like a battle of the goalies!

But then, the Yotes start getting desperate and start taking penalties. Jovo in the box once, twice, three times...

And on that third time, it would be my boy Bobby Ryan who would net a goal with only 20 seconds left in regulation, a beautiful tip-in from in front of the crease.

Jovo, #55, should've been awarded one of the Ducks three stars, two of his penalties led to power play goals for our boys

It's a great game for Ducks fans, without a single point going to the losing Pacific Division team. Wish we'd see more of these!

Well-deserved, Hiller gets the first star of the game

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.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rinks Tour - Learning from a Vet

The Anaheim Ducks held their third installment of the Rinks Speaking Series. Matt Belesky and my boy Bobby Ryan were joined by John Ahlers to talk about "learning from a vet."

At first, I thought the whole point of the topic would be best served by having veteran players present to speak. But Bobby and Matt are hardly veterans. I could only hazard to guess that the discussion had more to do with what rookies can learn from veterans, and that'll probably remain a mystery as yours truly got stuck in major SoCali rush hour traffic trying to get to the rink after work.

John Ahlers apparently got stuck in the same mass of cars, as I got a chance to talk to him a bit after the session. By the time I had arrived, much of the presentation was already over, and the question/answer session was underway.

The crowd was considerably bigger than it had been for past speaker series this season, and there was nowhere to sit or hide out for good pictures. I did what I could.

While the talk was underway, it was standing room only

Belesky, Ahlers, and Bobby taking questions from the crowd

Afterwards, the guys stayed behind to sign autographs and pose for pictures

Check the Ducks official website at for more extensive coverage of this event!

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!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rinks Inauguration - Westminster Ice

The Anaheim Ducks celebrated the grand opening of the latest Ducks Rinks acquisition, Westminster Ice, Wednesday night.


Fans, athletes from the Special Olympics Southern California, and Ducks players Jonas Hiller and Ryan Getzlaf were on hand for the festivities, which included a special holiday toy drive benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Garden Grove and Long Beach as well as the Anaheim Ducks Toy Drive (which has been collecting toys at home games throughout the month of December). Fans bringing a new, unwrapped toy would receive a voucher good for the public skate, a ticket to one of select Anaheim Ducks home games, and the opportunity to meet Hiller and Getzy.



Westminster Ice is the fourth rink to be added to The Rinks program. There are now two ice and two inline facilities being owned and operated by the Ducks.







Getzy and Hiller were all warm smiles as they greeted fans, signed autographs, posed for pictures, and accepted toy donations. For more information about Westminster Ice and The Rinks program, click here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ducks vs Dallas Stars

"Ducks have failed to show again"

This was my text to a fellow hockey fan during the second period of last night's contest between the Anaheim Ducks and the Dallas Stars. The game was half over, Ducks were down an embarrassing (yet not entirely shocking) 0-3, and most of the minimal "crowd" at the Ponda looked as disappointed as I felt.

Like rats jumping off the Titanic...

Through the first period and the first half of the second, our offense was nonexistent. So was the defense, for that matter. I noted way too much space between Ducks' D and oncoming Stars forwards. What happened to keeping them on the perimeter? What happened to knocking the puck away or blocking shooting/passing lanes? It was as if our defensemen forgot what they were supposed to be doing out there.

J.S. Giguere got the start in net but he, too, didn't look 100% in the game. The Stars took advantage of every odd-man rush, and Jiggy was out of position for most of them.

As much as I despise Stars' netminder Marty Turco, I have to admit he's a damn good goalie

It also didn't help that, for whatever reason, Ducks couldn't seem to buy a power play.

Sheldon Brookbank trying to light a fire under his mates by knocking fists with Stars' Krys Barch after the Stars go up 0-2 in the 1st

As valiant as Brookbank's fight was, he got in some great punches, our boys would remain off the scoreboard well into the second period. Joffrey Lupul took a penalty for tripping with less than four minutes left. Luckily, the Ducks PK stepped up to fight that one off and Ryan Getzlaf, with perfect timing, manages to fire the puck right to Lupes as he rushed out of the sin bin.

Lupes neatly completed the pass at center ice and sped off toward Turco. He stuffed the puck five-hole and, even though Turco actually made the save, his backward momentum from having to match Lupul's speed sends him and the puck into his net.

Yours truly breathed a sigh of relief as our Ducks headed into the second intermission with a goal on the board. At least we wouldn't get shut out.

And then, in the third, the team actually shows up. There's more energy on the ice and in the stands of the Ponda. Then, the unsung hero emerges.

*cue inspirational music*

My boy Bobby Ryan makes a play in front of the net, but loses the puck off his stick. New linemate Dan Sexton is also in the crease and flips the puck past Turco. It's only Dany's third NHL game, but he has given his team a fighting chance.

A rookie's favorite moment: his first NHL goal

I do remember stating, back during the preseason exhibition, that Dany and Bobby had a certain chemistry. I had even pondered the possibility of a scoring line built around the two wingers. With Teemu Selanne out for the next 4-6 weeks, I think a line consisting of Dany, Bobby, and Saku Koivu might do just nicely. How about it, Carlyle?

Either way, Dany continued to shine. He put a game-high nine shots on goal and dominated the ice every time he was on it. The energy inside the Ponda had become infectious. Fans fed off our boys and our boys fed off us. A majority of the third period was spent in the Stars defensive zone, and when the puck would enter the Ducks zone, our defense was there to keep things under control.

Why can't we play all three periods like this?

And then, with only a minute left in regulation, Dany comes up big again. His second goal, a shot that capitalizes on a mistake by Turco, ties the game up 3-3. Suddenly, we're looking at overtime.

Ducks continue OT with the same fervor they showed during the third. The Stars were all but caught back on their heels. Remembering our recent failures in the shootout, I prayed we'd score before the five minutes were up.

Luckily, the hockey gods were listening. With only a minute left in OT, Saku got his stick on the puck after a battle along the boards and took it up on a 3-on-1 rush. Converging on Turco, his first shot is blocked, but he catches the rebound and sends it over the leg pad for the win!

"Ducks win!!"


The celebration on the ice is nearly as big as the one in the stands. What an amazing comeback!

A very deserving Dan Sexton gets the first star of the game

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Even more changes

Yours truly will be attending tonight's contest between our hometown heroes and the Dallas Stars, but between now and the last game I attended (vs. Los Angeles Kings), there've been some changes.

Baffling me are guys in Ducks jerseys numbered 42, 39, and 28. That's Dan Sexton (who had impressed me with his performance alongside my boy Bobby Ryan during the preseason exhibition), Matt Belesky (who was recently called up to replace Kyle Calder), and Kyle Chipchura, formerly of the Montreal Canadiens. Chipchura, whose name makes me want a chimichanga with a side of fresh guacamole, was a mysterious trade for a 2011 4th round pick. Hopefully GM Bob Murray knows something we don't about this kid, because I'm sure he's not just here to keep fellow ex-Hab Saku Koivu company.

Back in also are Joffrey Lupul, whose back spasms have apparently let up enough for him to get back on the ice with the boys, and Brett Festerling, a gritty defenseman who appeared in a few NHL contests last season. Lupes has returned in a big way, scoring goals in his first few games back.

Ryan Carter and Kyle Calder remain on injury reserve, and now Teemu Selanne has joined them with a hand fracture incurred during the game against Dallas last week. I hate to admit that Teemu's absence is going to cost our Ducks wins (wins that are already so hard to come by), but the Finnish Flash has contributed so much this season, how can we not suffer from lack thereof?

Especially in the shootout.

Yes, yours truly will admit to being a big Bobby Ryan fan, but I simply don't understand why Carlyle isn't utilizing Bobby in the shootout. Both Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have failed to really impress in this area, Getzy finally got his first season SO goal during Sunday's loss against the Ottawa Senators, so I see nothing wrong with trotting out some new shooters. Since Teemu's out for the next 4-6 weeks, we might as well try to win a shootout with some new guys.

And, as much as I like Saku, playing him in the shootout against the Minnesota Wild last Friday? Whose bright idea was that? The boy is a playmaker, not a shooter. If I had a spin in the coach's chair, it would be Perry, Bobby, and Lupes in the shootout.

But I digress...

Our Ducks are going through a number of changes, and they've gone through probably too many changes starting from the preseason on. Too many different line partners, too many different coaching styles (Pete Peeters, I'm looking at you), too many different guys from different teams who are not familiar with the Ducks style (or the style of the Western Conference, for that matter). But we're also suffering from a lot of the same reasons all season long: too many of the same careless turnovers in the neutral zone, too many of the same stupid offensive zone penalties, too many of the same excuses for why our boys can't play a full 60 minutes.

Our boys need to turn things around, and they need to do it soon. We've been saying this all through October, and now all through November. Let's not add December to the list too. C'mon Ducks, your fans are waiting!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Pick my NHL team"

If you haven't already come across John Meyer and his internet project to adopt an NHL team, where have you been?

Seriously though, John has been featured on and has had mentions on other various internet sports pages. Basically, he's asking hockey fans to pick a team for him to follow. Their votes are tallied via Twitter tweets, facebook likes, blog comments, and YouTube messages from now until the end of the year. His official "favorite" team will be determined as the new year begins.

Yours truly was fortuitously invited to partake in John's adventure by offering up an article describing what it means to be an Anaheim Ducks fan. I mean, all team performance inconsistencies aside, we Duck fans know why we love our team and why we'll put up with the emotional rollercoaster our beloved puts us through every season, but why should a hockey newbee consider joining our ranks?

The following is the cross-post of what I contributed to John's site:

Why be an Anaheim Ducks fan?
--by Ducks54

"I don't know why you like watching that sport, it's so violent!"

I was sitting in my parents' living room, taking advantage of their 55-inch flatscreen HDTV. After all, my Anaheim Ducks don't look quite as good at my house, on my fuzzy 27-inch CRT, even when they're kicking the butts of their latest opponent. My mother's random anti-hockey comments are a small price to pay.

Being a hockey fan in Southern California is already hard enough. We're used to having to scour the internet for news about our favorite teams and players. The usual sports shows never cover hockey, unless Patrick Kane beats up another cabbie. We put up with ridicule from our friends whose cars are plastered with Lakers and Chargers stickers. Southern California boasts warm, sunny weather even during the winter months... much of which its residents would rather be taking part in, instead of spending a beautiful evening indoors at a chilly ice hockey rink.

If this was your backyard, you might think twice about heading to the rink too!

The market is small here. Overshadowed by Hollywood actors/actresses, larger-than-life celebrity athletes, and unrealistic image stereotypes, hockey doesn't get a lot of attention. Neither do its players, both young and veteran.

But you see, I believe it's this lack of overt attention that creates a wonderful dynamic between the Anaheim Ducks organization and its fans. The players don't get recognized on the street... they can walk around in public and live otherwise ordinary lives. I've often said people in Southern California don't recognize a hockey puck, more or less a hockey player.

Those people who DO happen to recognize a player, are usually rewarded by a very humble and grateful athlete, whose warm grin is genuine and appreciative. I can't speak for all Southern Californian hockey teams and players, but my Ducks have been nothing but the most classy of guys in person. I believe they realize that their fans could be doing a number of different things besides following hockey. We could be spending our money on a plethora of other hobbies and interests besides hockey games. The fact that we are here and we support our boys means more to them than it would to other teams.

"Anaheim Ducks GOOOAAAALLLL!!!"

Our Ducks have given us a lot for our patronage. There's a bit of an East Coast bias within the NHL, so even the more experienced non-Californian hockey fan might not know much about what our Ducks have achieved. We've enjoyed playoff games for the last four consecutive seasons, including a visit by Lord Stanley's Holy Grail. We've been blessed to have some of the best NHL athletes to ever play the sport skate regularly on our home ice. Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger... future Hall of Famers that have changed the face of the sport. We've enjoyed the contributions that the Anaheim Ducks organization has made to local charities and communities, including programs to grow the sport amongst Southern Californian youth. But primarily, we've been given the opportunity to become fans of the best game around.

We've been given a team to believe in, for a sport we've come to love.

Becoming a Ducks fan is like being welcomed into a large family of people who realize how special the sport and its players are. Your friends and family might find it odd that you've grown enamored with such an unlikely hobby, but your Ducks family understands! We've gathered in groups online, at watch parties, and at games to make the hockey experience that much more special. I have to say I've met some life-friends through my Ducks, people whose friendships extend well beyond the rink. I've discovered that not all athletes are egotistical, arrogant celebrity types. I know what it feels like to root for the underdog, and to gloat at the naysayers when they've been proven wrong. I'm an Anaheim Ducks fan, and proud of it!

Here's where you, fellow Duck fans, come in. Go to John's site and vote for your Anaheim Ducks. Post a comment here. Or tweet @johntmeyer and tell him in 140 characters or less why he should be a Ducks fan. We're in first place right now, and that feels pretty darn good. (Ducks fans know why)

You can even tell him Ducks54 sent ya.

Go Ducks!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Technical difficulties

I know there are games to blog about, and I would be doing just that if it weren't for my laptop dying. Hopefully things around here won't be down for long. My apologies!

My Zimbio
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