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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ducks at Tampa Bay, vs Lightning

Hoping to pick up a lackluster roadtrip, our hometown heroes will start with Jonas Hiller once again between the pipes tonight. Not that J.S. Giguere did badly against the Capitals, but I suppose it's a nod to our unofficial number one goaltender.

Teemu Selanne, sporting a cage over his lower jaw, skated with the boys during practice today, but he won't be joining his mates on the ice tonight.

It's fellow Fin Antero Nittymaki in net for the Lightning.

Ducks look good in the opening minutes of the game, George Parros gets a good tilt in with Matt Walker. But after the Ducks' first penalty kill, our boys are looking rather disconnected and uncoordinated. Not a good sign.

Halfway through the period, the Lightning take advantage of bad positioning and a missed puck connection by Steve Eminger, going on a 2-on-1 against Ryan Whitney. Hiller's swift lateral movement gets him in place for the bid, but it slips by 5-hole.

There are some scoring opportunities for our boys, but no paydirt. Yours truly is seeing too much passing and not enough shooting. Lightning carry the 1-0 lead going into the 1st intermission.

The passing still looks a little sloppy on the Ducks end and the defense is leaving way too much space for Lightning shooters to set up. I'm not liking this second period Ducks team.

Finally, Ducks get a power play when Dan Sexton is pushed face first into the glass. Power plays haven't meant much this season, but yours truly stays somewhat hopeful. After a fumble by Ryan Getzlaf at the blue line leads to an incredible scoring chance by the Lightning, Ducks regroup to successfully tie up the game with a power play goal by James Wisniewski.

The goal and a successful penalty kill round out the second period for our hometown heroes.

The third period sees more energy and scoring opportunities for our Ducks. Everyone is driving hard and it's making for some good hockey. Things are getting a lot more chippy too, with guys pushing and shoving after nearly every whistle. Both goaltenders are standing up huge and keeping goals to a bare minimum. Lots of highlight reel saves for both teams.

As the final minutes of regulation wind down, the physical aspect of the game goes into overdrive. Dany Sexton is the unfortunate recipient of a Lightning tackle, and a good old-fashioned line brawl erupts. Any time you're seeing Saku Koivu throwing punches, you know there's some heated situations on the ice. Once play resumes, it's a continuation of pucks failing to find the back of nets.

Five minutes of sudden death overtime don't solve anything, and suddenly, we're in a shootout.

Corey Perry, Getzy, and Wiz up for the Ducks. Perry's denied and Stamkos scores. Then Getzy follows with a display of skillful hands for a goal, and Hiller denies the next two Lightning shooters. The game rests on the shoulders of Wiz, who approaches Nittymaki with a similar shootout move to that used in his first shootout. But, before Nittymaki is expecting the release, Wiz quickly snaps the puck five-hole.

It's in and the Ducks take 2 points away from Tampa!

Dare I say that Wiz is our newly crowned shootout king?


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