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

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ducks vs St. Louis Blues

Remember the last time our Ducks hosted the Blues? If you don't, you're lucky. It was a horrible 0-5 shutout.

Needless to say, some payback is in order.

Jonas Hiller gets the start in net, after an awesome win Tuesday night against the hated Detroit Red Wings. Yours truly is excited to see if our boys can pull it together again for two straight wins at home.

On the other side of the ice is Chris Mason, who is in net for the Blues for the second night of a back-to-back. Incidentally, the Blues have a new coach after having sent Andy Murray packing. Not sure whether this bodes well for our Ducks or not, it might still make things interesting. The Blues are doing just as badly as our hometown heroes, and they go into tonight's contest tied for the 12th spot in the Western Conference.

Even though the Blues played (and lost to) the San Jose Sharks last night, I'm impressed by the energy and forechecking pressure of the Blues' forwards. No wonder the Blues are so good on the road. Our boys are matching them step for step and it's an energetic burst through the first period.


The Blues get on the scoreboard first, a short-hander off the faceoff during a Ducks' power play no less. Hiller had no chance blocking that one, as it caromed and changed direction off the shaft of Corey Perry's stick. I'm hoping our boys can overcome the drop in momentum.

Our boys keep the shots on goal coming, however, and both the first and second lines have their chances. Kudos to defenseman Steve Eminger. I'm not always impressed by Eminger, favoring Nick Boynton more times than not between the two, but Eminger does a great job stepping up during this game... at least during the first period. He's sacrificing the body to block shots and making good decisions along the blue line.

My new favorite 1st line consists of Ryan Getzlaf centering Perry and rookie Matt Beleskey

Guys start to mix things up after the whistle and the game gets even more physical than it already had been. Unfortunately, Perry unwisely decides to take himself and Blues' David Backes out of the game for five minutes.

Maybe Pears thought a fight would be a good way to get his team riled up over their one-goal deficit?

Going into the second period, Ducks continue to come on strong. Impressive yet again are the puck-handling skills of Petteri Nokelainen. Nokie has been awesome in the last couple of games, getting good scoring chances because he's been able to play his gritty game while deftly maneuvering the puck around defenders. Keep it up, Nokie!

Ducks draw back to back penalties and earn a valuable 5-on-3 opportunity. Our boys set up a number of one-timers, but can't get anything through to the net before the penalties expire. However, shortly thereafter, Nokie provides the perfect screen for a James Wisniewski slapshot from the top of the left circle.

Wiz's equalizer is his second goal of the season

As we hit the halfway mark of the game, Ducks continue to apply pressure to what seems to be a tiring Blues team. Big hits and battles along the boards come up favoring our boys, and Ducks are leading in shots on goal. On the other end of the ice, Hiller is holding his own with some sharp saves as well.

At this point, yours truly is the recipient of gracious Duck friends once again and can enjoy the rest of the game from the 200 section. The majority of the second period is fairly quiet, with man-advantage opportunities for both teams turning up empty. The score going into the second intermission is 1-1.


Only one minute into the third, Hiller is the recipient of another unlucky bounce. A puck fired absently towards the Duck net ricochetes off of Ryan Whitney and bounces into the net past Hiller.

I think every Duck fan at the Ponda matched Hiller's skyward look of disbelief. The goal, combined with a double minor penalty against captain Scott Niedermayer, have the Ducks reeling back on their heels.

Following a potentially dangerous Blues breakaway (Brett Festerling came up big sliding in and poking the puck away from the charging Blues forward) Saku Koivu jumps on a puck that squirts from a battle against the boards and passes it to my boy Bobby Ryan as he's streaking through the neutral zone.

From where I'm sitting, I see the puck head straight to number 9 with speed. "Go Bobby go!" The next thing I know, the puck is in the back of the net and Bobby is celebrating with a jump against the glass. The replay reveals a perfectly beautiful highlight reel snapshot fired between the legs of the Blues defender, targeted into the top far corner of the net.

Bobby's incredible play earns him the first star of the game

The last half of the period is met with renewed energy from our boys. Tied up, big saves still coming from Hiller, hits still raining from both benches, it's looking like we might be in for some overtime. Our Ducks are applying a lot of pressure in the final five minutes, credit to Mason for keeping his mates in this one.

With less than three minutes left in regulation, Getzy forces a turnover in the Blues zone. Perry plucks the puck away and circles it towards the net, firing on Mason. A rebound results, but Beleskey is there as he crashes the net to chip the puck over Mason.

Beleskey brings the Ponda to life with his game winner and second goal of his NHL career

Time is suddenly on the Ducks' side as our boys take the lead for the first time tonight. Todd Marchant escapes the defensive zone with the puck and is able to evade a Blues defender for the empty net insurance goal.

Marchant: "I've been taking tips from Robbie Niedermayer..."

This one goes down in the books as another Ducks win at home, 4-2. Time to take the winning to the road, boys!


Suz Broughton said...

That goal by Ryan was a thing of beauty.

Chris (aka Ducks54) said...

Suz, wasn't it? Bobby mentioned he couldn't even see the net when he made that shot!

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