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 1, 2010

Ducks vs Florida Panthers

Not just another day at the office for George

This was a great game. Period.

And not because there were big names involved or because it was a special giveaway night at the Ponda. Most people might have passed on tonight's game because it was a random Wednesday night, against a random East Conference team that doesn't generate a huge following.

But for those Duck faithful who came out, we were treated to a fun, raucous game capped off with a Ducks win. You really had to be there.

Man of the hour, George Parros, grinning big in his new role of goal scorer

The Ducks enforcer scored two goals in tonight's contest, with a tussle against Darcy Hordichuk thrown in between

Padded with some nice goals from our big line, we Duck fans didn't have to sweat it out too badly. I mean, if anyone knows how quickly and painfully a lead can be lost, it's Duck fans.

High-fives at the bench after Getzlaf's goal

But with the last 15 minutes or so of the game, the minimal crowd at the Ponda got louder and louder. People screamed every time Parros took the ice. Murmurs of "Hatty" and "One more for Georgie" buzzed through the air.

Best of all, you could tell the big man and everyone on the Ducks bench were absolutely loving it. So glad Georgie could do this one at home, where the home fans could really make it special for him.

Bobby Ryan sealed the deal with an empty netter dug out from underneath the Panther defender

In the end, there would be no hatty for George, but there would be two points for the Ducks.

The boys celebrate the victory with Jonas Hiller

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ducks at Phoenix, vs Coyotes

I wasn't at this game (wish I was!), but it deserves a post because:
- it marks the end of a 6-game Ducks losing streak
- it marks the end of a 7-game Yotes winning streak

And, most importantly, it marks Bobby's second NHL career hat trick!!!

Here's what he had to say to Arizona reporters after the game:

Ducks gave the Yotes a sound beating, 6-4. Come back home and show the Kings similar treatment, Ducks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ducks vs Edmonton Oilers

When a team on a losing streak comes into town, you want to think, "Oh hey, easy two points for us," right? Well, when your team is the Anaheim Ducks, it isn't that easy.

Remember what happened less than a month ago against the New Jersey Devils?

Or last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs??

Unfortunately yeah, I remember those too. I was at both of those games and it stunk. Nevertheless, you hope your boys remember those stinkers just as well, and you hope they try their hardest not to let history repeat itself.

And you look at the little things to make you happy, like Dan Sexton being recalled from the minors

Sexton: "Don't get all up in mah grill, yo."

The first period started well enough. Ducks outshot the Oilers with 19 shots on goal compared to their 4. And they made good plays. Ducks also got power play chances. Teemu Selanne was scratched thanks to groin issues, otherwise I'm pretty certain we would have converted on at least one of those opportunities.

What nobody counted on was the hot goalie. Oilers' Devan Dubnyk frustrated my Ducks to no end... and filled my camera with shots like these:

Dubnyk blocking a puck with his elbow

Dubnyk blocking a redirect from Jason Blake

Dubnyk pouncing on a puck just outside the blue paint

And another save (see the puck?)...

And another (see the puck?)...

Dubnyk left no rebounds on many of his saves. Our boys had some of the best goal attempts I've seen in a while, so it wasn't as if they played poorly. There were plenty of players left sniffing for stray biscuits after many of those attempts, but they came up empty. Honestly, I think it took the wind out of our boys' sails. It certainly took something out of mine. And it raised the confidence of the Oilers.

They would take the lead with two goals in the first half of the second.

In the second half, Ducks got a lucky bounce when Theo Peckham received a penalty for delay of game. The puck actually flew through a camera hole which, in my opinion, isn't technically over the glass. But hey, we'll take it.

No more than eight seconds into the ensuing power play, Bobby Ryan would finally get one past Dubnyk

And 22 seconds after that, Saku Koivu would tie it up.

Unfortunately, there would be no further Duck goals. At least, not into the Oiler net. Corey Perry's empty-netter crossed 200 feet to land squarely into the opposite net. Some would say it was the icing on the cake, finishing off a completely awful third period. The Ducks had checked out. No more urgency, no more brilliant shot attempts on goal, not even in the final minute after Jonas Hiller had been pulled for the extra attacker.

Me, I'm glad that ex-Duck Ryan Whitney's close-range empty net bid missed the net, which prompted an energized round of "Whitney sucks" from a group of raucous fans in the section next to me. It was pretty funny. At least we could be reminded that we got Lubomir Visnovsky from the Oilers for that guy.

It's the little things, people. I'm getting used to finding silver linings.

At least Andy Sutton is back...

Let's file this one with the others under F for "forget about it."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ducks vs Pittsburgh Penguins

At least for tonight, I certainly hoped so!

I understand that the 2009 Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, would be playing only one West Coast game this season. Unfortunately for Duck fans, it was at our Ponda.

Not that we don't appreciate having Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in our building, quite the contrary. Personally, I was looking forward to seeing Malkin on the ice live, as he had suffered an injury prior to last season's contest and didn't swim with the rest of the Pens at the Ponda. But since we'd be the only West Coast stop on the itinerary, every friggin' Penguin fan in California showed up at the game.

Evgeni Malkin, one half of Pittsburgh's dynamic duo

Lubomir Visnovsky playfully teasing fans during warmups

I honestly believe we Duck fans were outnumbered. It definitely sounded like it; the cheering post-Pen goal seemed to be much louder than the cheering post-Duck goal.

Thankfully, there were fewer Pen goals than Duck goals.

On the bright side, our boys showed up ready to rock. They gave us something to cheer for, we could be damn proud of the team that took the ice that night.

Corey Perry trying to deflect a shot past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury

With the first period ending with zeros on the scoreboard and SOG slightly favoring the Ducks (7-5), you could feel the tension in the air. I knew that whoever scored that first goal was going to blow this game wide open for his team.

Who else would that player be but Bobby Ryan?

Opening the floodgates, Bobby's goal was followed by one from Ryan Getzlaf and one more from Saku Koivu before the end of the second.

The boys celebrate after Getzy's goal

Saku ended a scoring drought after having started the season with two goals in as many games

Teemu Selanne assisted on Saku's goal

Non-expert game observations:
- It's good to see Cam Fowler back out there again. A testament to his skills, we could say he's one of our top defensemen. Although, that's not exactly a compliment to our other defensemen...
- The game was a very physical one overall, but Bobby in particular dished out some major hits. Check out this one for the highlight reel. The clip was shown repeatedly on the jumbotron, and we fans ate it up.

- This was Teemu Selanne's 1200th NHL game. The Finnish Flash looked spectacular, doing everything except getting a goal. Personally, I would have loved to see his efforts rewarded.
- I was also hoping for more rookie magic. Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri were back out on their line with veteran Todd Marchant.


- I've always liked Palmieri and was excited to see him pot his first NHL goal in the previous Ducks game. It would have been nice to see him get his second before Matt Beleskey and Dan Sexton come back from IR.
- Jonas Hiller was sensational tonight. He left a number of rebounds, but his mates were good about cleaning those up. I still believe we rely a little too heavily on Hiller night after night, but as long as he's still looking strong out there, hopefully we have time to improve.

Sidney Crosby, the other half of that dynamic duo

Pens would get on the board twice at the hands of Captain Sid, but our Ducks clung to their lead through the third period. There was so much energy in that final period. Players pushed themselves to the limit, fans held their breath between bouts of screaming.

Heck, it was like playoff hockey! Our boys fought hard and they EARNED their win, the first consecutive win this season. And it was worth being there for every thrilling moment.

Ducks celebrate their hard-fought win with Jonas Hiller

Let's get number three, boys, this Sunday against the Nashville Predators.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ducks vs New Jersey Devils

As a hockey fan in general, it’s always fun to have an Eastern Conference visitor. You get to see star players that you might not have ever seen live on the ice before, and may not see again for some time. You also feel a little less pressure knowing that two points are up for grabs but, if you don’t get them, they aren’t falling into the hands of division rivals.

Let’s also not forget the surprising fan showing that almost always presents itself at the Ponda. Look at all those Devils’ jerseys

Myself, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to see "winningest" goaltender Martin Brodeur. Not exactly a spring chicken anymore, Brodeur might possibly be hanging up the skates soon. I wanted to be sure to get some good shots of him beforehand.

Almost as if he knew what I was up to, Brodeur gave me some beauties

Zack Parise didn’t disappoint either

2010 Olympic Team USA captain Jamie Langenbrunner would tally a goal that I’m sure Hiller would pay to have back

Going into this game, I was hoping our boys would be able to steal two points against our struggling visitor. The Devils are going through their second worst start in franchise history... perhaps they’d gift wrap a few for us? After our Ducks had finished their 10-day road trip with an incredible win in Dallas (5-2, with goals going to Teemu Selanne, George Parros, Corey Perry, and two for Bobby Ryan), I thought we were playing much better now than when we’d started.

Well, considering how bad we were at the beginning of the season, I suppose that’s not saying much. It also doesn’t help that the Ducks are riddled with injuries. Andy Sutton is still out, Cam Fowler was a healthy scratch, and Dan Sexton and Matt Beleskey would probably be out another couple of games.

Still, one can hope.

In Beleskey’s absence, Aaron Voros played alongside Getzlaf and Perry and had a number of excellent scoring chances

I wasn’t particularly thrilled with how our boys played the first half of the game. They seemed sort of slow and sluggish... why do I feel like I’ve said this before?

With all of the penalties the Ducks get, prime penalty killer Todd Marchant is worth his weight in gold

Coach Carlyle has also been putting Bobby on the penalty kill. An interesting idea, I must admit I like how it’s turning out. Bobby has an aggressive style on the pk, often getting his stick in the way of passing lanes. I just wouldn’t want him out there so much on the pk that he has no energy to generate goals.

Bobby’s pass through the crease just misses connecting with Selanne

In the second half of the game, the Ducks came alive and we actually got to see some good play.

Parros putting his own pressure on the Devs

Andreas Lilja and Toni Lydman helping Hiller keep his crease clear

I do like what I see with our newest veteran D-men. Lilja and Lydman appear to be steady, dependable guys on the ice, and I’m sure they have plenty of experience to share with our rookies in the locker room.

Jason Blake celebrating his goal, and the Ducks’ only tally

Peppering Brodeur with shots didn’t do the trick (SOG: 28-27, Ducks), the veteran netminder came up big... with a little help from his posts. And the Devils were able to slip their own couple of goals behind Hiller (Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias). The Ducks fought hard for over 10 minutes to net that equalizer, but would inevitably fall 1-2 to the Devils. On the bright side, we were able to keep salary cap buster Ilya Kovalchuk off the board too.

Ducks top RPG line was effectively kept quiet

I’m trying to believe that there is a reason why Carlyle won’t start with or keep Bobby on that top line with Getz and Pears. He started off on the second line with Teemu and Saku Koivu, and was bumped up for the final minutes of desperation. Is it that he doesn’t want to have the RPG line together? Is he taking money on the side? Is he afraid they’ll lose their potency like the way I fear caffeine tolerance from drinking too much recreational coffee? ???

Here’s hoping our boys will fare better in their contest at San Jose tonight.

It was nice seeing you, Brodeur, but you don’t have to bring yourself and your winningest ways back here anytime soon!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rinks Tour - Roller vs Ice Hockey

It was a gloomy day in Irvine, but grey clouds and a bleary sky couldn't keep Ducks fans away from the 949 Roller Hockey Center. The Rinks Tour Speaker Series was something that the Anaheim Ducks started last season. Featuring Ducks players, the tour travels to various local hockey inline and ice rinks, giving hockey youth an opportunity to listen to players discuss various hockey topics, followed by a Q&A session, and photograph/autograph opportunity.

I don't play hockey, but I wasn't alone as a hockey fan just wanting to hear what Bobby Ryan and Kyle Chipchura had to say.

Waiting for the boys to arrive


Bobby realizing his mic doesn't work

Steve Carroll mediating and asking questions

(Writer's note: dialogue is grossly approximated. I didn't have a recorder to allow me to transcribe.)


Q: When did you start playing hockey?
Bobby: As soon as I could walk, age three-and-a-half.
Chippy: Four.

Chippy talked about the differences between playing hockey in Montreal, where hockey is a religion, and Southern California

I've said it before, and I'll say it agagin. Most people in SoCali wouldn't recognize a hockey puck if they saw one.

Q: Who's the hardest goalie to score on?
Chippy: Martin Brodeur

Bobby: Brodeur is hard, but I've scored on him. Luongo for me.
Fan: And you got the game-winning goal on him last night!

After the session, fans could get pictures and autographs

Stay tuned to the Ducks official website for more information on future Rinks Tour stops:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ducks vs Vancouver Canucks, home opener


Let's be completely honest here. Considering the Ducks' rough start to the season, going 0-3 thus far, I wasn't too sure if I wanted to see our boys get their butts handed to them on home ice. Especially not after all of the pomp and circumstance that goes into the pregame Red Carpet Ceremony.

I remember last season's home opener, getting all pumped up during the Red Carpet Ceremony, only to watch the Ducks humiliatingly drop that game to the San Jose Sharks.

But, a true fan sticks with their team, even in the worst of times. Especially in the worst of times.

So I drove out to cheer on my boys as they walked the red carpet. I had my camera, but didn't bring anything for anyone to sign. I doled out high-fives and fist-knocks instead.

The crowd is ready to make their Ducks feel like movie stars

One thing I definitely appreciated this year, the weather was sunny yet on the cooler side of summer. Last year, we melted like snowballs in hell. I can only imagine how uncomfortable the players were in their ties and three-piece suits.

The first to address the crowd, George Parros

A DJ from a local country music radio station helped Kent French emcee the event.

Parros signing autographs

Next up, Todd Marchant

Marchant signing autographs

Jason Blake

Lookin' sharp, Matt Beleskey and Bobby Ryan

Somebody hand Bobby a pair of those free Ducks sunglasses

Lubomir Visnovsky

Corey Perry

Yay, Dan Sexton would be playing tonight! He said he was excited to walk his first red carpet

Luca Sbisa was also going to get his chance to play tonight

DJ: "So, I gotta ask ya, who are you wearing?"
Luca: "Gap!" (he was just kidding)

Brendan Mikkleson

Mikkleson signing autographs

Alternate captain Saku Koivu

Rookie Cam Fowler made an entrance, driving one of Teemu Selanne's toys, dressed up in a chafeur's cap. Teemu and Ryan Getzlaf rode in the back


Fowler took the veterans' hazing in stride

Fowler approaching a crowd eager for his autograph

Getzy signing autographs

Making a fan's day never seems to get old for Teemu Selanne

Healthy scratches, but still good sports, Brett Festerling and Ryan Carter

Los Tres Guapos, Jonas Hiller, Paul Mara, and Sheldon Brookbank

Stating that his long hair bothered him under his mask, Hiller donned a shorter style for the home opener

Sheldon Brookbank signing autographs

Last, but not least, the other masked man, Curtis McElhinney

McElhinney signing autographs

As for the game, things started off rocky. Ducks took an early lead with a bid by Getzlaf less than three minutes into the first. But hearts would sink as our boys gave up two goals in 17 seconds less than two minutes later.

Was this the same disjointed team that had miserably lost the first three games of the season?

Towards the middle of the game, guys started showing up... and it was glorious!

Our big line reaffirmed their place as one of the top lines in the NHL

The equalizing goal (by Corey Perry) and the game winner (by Bobby Ryan) were beautiful displays of perfect passes and timing. THIS is what this team could do when they play like we know they can. Every Duck fan left that game with the thought that maybe the season wasn't looking so long after all.

More game observations: (again, I'm no expert, these are just casual opinions!)

- Looks like our team consists of more guys than just Saku Koivu and Jonas Hiller. Getzlaf earned four points in this game, including his one goal. Each member of the RPG line got a goal, as did Selanne.

- With Bobby's first goal of the season, I get to fire up the ole Bobby Ryan goal tracker in the sidebar. What'll it be this season, Bobby? 40 goals? 50?

- I don't know why Sexton gets scratched for so many games. The guy has speed and a good shot, why not give him more opportunities to play? He had a number of goal chances during this game, I want to see more of him.

- Luca Sbisa stepped up. I have to admit, I haven't been too impressed by what I've seen by him so far. Tonight, he delivered an excellent hip check, made his presence known, and had good anticipation of puck placement.

- As always, I continue to be impressed by Cam Fowler. How is it that an 18-year-old rookie skates and sees the ice like someone much older and experienced? He is so poised and calm under pressure. Made a few honest mistakes, but otherwise, incredible for a 2010 draftee.

- Hiller was a tad shaky at first, looking like his reactions were maybe half a second too slow. But he picked things up when the rest of the team arrived, and stayed strong through the end.

- A much better SOG disparity this time. For a brief second, I believe Ducks actually outshot the Canucks. Briefly.

Looking forward to seeing much more of Perry in the opposition's net

Goooo Ducks!!!

My Zimbio
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