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, September 22, 2010

Ducks vs Phoenix Coyotes, preseason opener

What a sight for sore eyes! The Ponda!

There was a feeling of calm familiarity as I walked across the North Ponda Parking Lot. In the distance, an old friend. I was home!

I know I wasn't the only Duck fan anticipating the return to the Ponda for Wednesday night's preseason opener against the Phoenix Coyotes. The offseason was much too long for us, we were more than ready for our hockey fix, even if only a preseason game.

Preseason games aren't about winning and losing. They are an opportunity for rookies and new acquisitions to prove to their new teams that they belong on the opening night roster. Coaches get a chance to see the players in action, to try out different lines of forwards, different defense pairings, and to test what works and what doesn't. The preseason is also an opportunity for the players to get a feel for each other, to develop the chemistry and communication necessary to make them formidable competitors once the season actually starts and the games count.

Notables like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Jonas Hiller wouldn't be playing tonight, but would be stationed at various areas of the Ponda to mingle with fans. Personally, I love that they do this! It's so amusing to watch how ticket holders will order their pizzas and beers without even recognizing the young man behind the counter without his game jersey.

The diehard fans know who those nicely-dressed boys are and we made a point of taking advantage of their accessibility before the game.

Hiller signing autographs and selling Kids Club kits.

Troy Bodie serving chicken.

Fan: Hey, can we get sushi here?
Brookbank: Aw man, I don't even remember how to make my roll!

Corey Perry behind the Oggi's pizza counter.

Ryan Getzlaf sold us a pepsi and a pretzel. I also congratulated him on his recent nuptials.

Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu signing autographs at the fan relations desk.

The game itself wasn't a good one for the Ducks overall. Granted, we had a lot of our less-seasoned players on the ice, I think the coaches learned a good deal about what works and what doesn't. Bobby Ryan was the lone scorer (on the power play), looking comfortable in his new position as center. I saw Bobby set up a number of plays, trying to feed the puck to wingers near the net. Unfortunately, none of them were able to convert.

I miss Andrew Ebbett. He's a Yote now, and scored a goal against his former team. Mixed feelings there.

Our defense didn't seem to have a lot going for them either. They allowed way too much space between themselves and the oncoming Yote forwards, and paid the price. I felt they were also much too soft with how they held up the blue line. Of course then, the Coyotes had some of their best forwards out there, so that didn't help matters.

It looked a lot like the guys were playing too individually, not focusing on how to work together as a team. They were trying too hard to be the guy that wins the day, and in the end, the Ducks appeared sloppy and disjointed.

The Coyotes, on the other hand, played a more cooperative, seamless game. Being my boyfriend team, I also enjoyed seeing my Yotes back on the ice. Scottie Upshall hasn't laced up since the middle of last season, after going out with ACL/MCL injuries. I think I can safely say the knee isn't much of an issue now. It was also nice seeing Paul Bissonette, Petr Prucha, and Sami Lepisto again.

Keep in mind, it's a preseason game so winning and losing don't mean much. Even so, I'll be looking forward to tomorrow night's game, when our Ducks will have more seasoned guys like Getzlaf and Perry (and Hiller in net) to help out our rookies.

Heck, I'm just happy to see my boys back on the ice!


My Zimbio
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