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, March 29, 2011

Ducks vs Colorado Avalanche

After a grueling work shift at the job that pays the bills, I was greatly looking forward to ending my night at the rink.

With the Ducks looking to nab every point possible in a tight Western Conference race, a game against the bottom-dwelling Colorado Avalanche is a potential gift. Of course then, when you remember that the Ducks have a nasty habit of losing against teams they shouldn't lose to, you kinda get that lump in your throat.

Bottom-dweller or not, Ducks are gonna have to bring their game!

The Ponda makes a doozy of a margarita!

Best part of that margarita, you can buy it in the collectible shaker and then bring back the shaker for discounted refills! Unfortunately for me, multiple margaritas make for a very buzzed blogger. Luckily, most of the pictures were salvageable!

Bobby Ryan on one of many goal opportunities tonight

Ducks in the first period were nothing to write home about. They were looking flat-footed and uninspired. The Avalanche got two past goaltender Ray Emery, taking a 2-0 lead into the locker room at the 1st intermission.

Trying to get a fire lit under his teammates, George Parros lands a few haymakers on David Koci

The Ducks probably got a good talking to by coach Carlyle because they came out with a vengeance for the second. Passes were connecting, the forechecking presence was there, and the scoring lines put on the pressure. Finally, payoff.


The Ducks would score three goals (a Teemu Selanne goal sandwich with a bit of Jason Blake in the middle) during the second, before the Avs would answer back with a goal of their own. The score was 3-3 going into the 2nd intermission.

Just another milestone for the Finnish Flash

3rd period and a 20-minute hockey game between the Avs and the Ducks. Cam Fowler puts the Ducks up one early on in the period, himself recording a record nine goals in the season by a rookie defenseman. Five minutes in and the Ducks are awarded a power play for an Avs' "too many men on the ice" penalty. Everyone wanted to say it, "give the puck to Selanne!"

Apparently, the Ducks were saying it too.

Third goal and HAT TRICK for Teemu!

What a season for hat tricks! I've actually been in attendance for a record number this season, two for Corey Perry, one for Lubomir Visnovsky, and now one for Teemu Selanne. It's the 22nd of his career, but his first for me.

And this guy is thinking of retiring?!?!?

Avs get one more but are unable to equalize before the period ends. Ducks snatch another two points for the playoff race.

In this tight of a race, losing is just not an option

But the man of the hour is Teemu Selanne, 1st star of the game, and 40-year-old phenom

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ducks vs Calgary Flames

Even though the Anaheim Ducks' home record against the Calgary Flames at the Ponda is very favorable, you never want to take anything for granted. Especially in a Western Conference playoff race that's this tight.

The Ducks need every point they can get.

Calgary Flames goalkeeper Miikka Kiprusoff

Normally, I see this guy in goal for the Flames and I figure our Ducks' work is cut out for them. Kipper is one of the best.

But even the best have bad days.

Duck, Duck, Goalie

After only the first 6 minutes of play, the Ducks had lit the lamp three times. Ryan Getzlaf started the onslaught with a wrister top shelf, followed by Corey Perry netting one on the power play. Francois Beauchemin would finish with a slap shot from the blue line.

Not even close, Kipper. Can you see the puck right behind the goal line??

That was the end of Kipper's night. Enter backup Henrik Karlsson.

I was as elated as any other Ducks fan at this point. Heck, our boys played a hard game last night in the Kings' barn that went into OT... it was a gift that we'd jump out early with a 3-goal lead. However, I feared this would make our boys unfocused and sloppy, thinking they had the Flames pegged.

Unfortunately, I was right. It took only 20 minutes to unravel that lead. By the end of the second, the Flames had bounced back, and Karlsson had effectively kept his net clean. The score was now tied 3-3.

A Ducks game is never a Ducks game without nervous nailbiting. Seven minutes into the third period, Flames captain Jerome Iginla puts his team in the lead. Ducks spend the next 10 trying to find that equalizer. I'm sure I'm not the only fan wishing Kipper would return to the crease.

Can you believe we actually had a three-goal lead at one point in this game??

Luca Sbisa fending off Iginla

At the moment of truth, two minutes before the end of regulation, goaltender Dan Ellis is pulled for the extra attacker. Teemu Selanne, whose name must translate into "Clutch" in Finnish, tips in a Getzlaf feed.

Twice in two days, Ducks head into 4-on-4 overtime.

And again, another deja vu moment. Bobby Ryan gets tripped up in a breakaway attempt and is awarded a penalty shot.

Bobby had better luck with his penalty shot against the Red Wings' Jimmy Howard

Unfortunately, Bobby wouldn't end the game with a winner in OT. That title would go instead to Perry who has a Toni Lydman one-timer deflect off of him and under Karlsson. The Ponda erupts in yells and screams.


Probably just as relieved as us fans, the Ducks pounced on Perry in celebration

A few words from Perry in the post-game interview, as first star of the game

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ducks at Los Angeles, vs Kings

Have I mentioned how much I HATE watching Ducks games at the Staples Center??

Sitting hours in bumper to bumper traffic, trying to find parking on the dirty streets of LA, getting heckled by scores of ignorant Kings fans on my way to the arena... and then, even once inside the arena, there's more heckling, annoying anti-Ducks cartoons and other nonsense on the Kings' jumbotron, and drunk fans getting in my face.

Then, if we lose, multiply all that torture 10-fold.

It's just not my idea of a good time.

However, when there's a big group of Ducks fans planning to invade the Staples Center, and I can be surrounded by a lot of my fellow fans, I'm a little more open to the idea of going there for a game.

A big group of nearly 100 Ducks fans came in for this one

Of course, there are drawbacks to being in a large group like this, but there are perks too.

Included in the "package," the group got the opportunity to stand on the ice before the game. At first, I thought this to mean we'd get a chance to mill about on the ice, sit in the penalty boxes and benches, and otherwise get some good photo opportunities. Not quite. We walked out on a carpet, took a group picture, and walked back.

We did, however, catching a glimpse of our boys warming up with a rousing game of kickball

We were allowed to bring signs for our team at warmups, but apparently, Staples crew members were also allowed to tell us our signs were too big. The sign I'd made (of the same size I've always made for games) boasted "Stanley Cups: Ducks = 1, Kings = 0" was deemed "too big" and I was forced to either cut it in half or have it trashed. Not to mention others had signs even bigger than mine and were able to get them in, including some anti-Duck signs with dirty four-letter words that rhyme with "duck."

Not cool, Staples Center. Not cool.

Our seats were allllll the way up in the rafters against the concrete wall. I don't think we were heard by anyone but the people around us, but I didn't mind because I couldn't hear them.

I loved hearing the crowd roar with McMillan's goal

We screamed like crazy when rookie Brendan McMillan put us on the board first with a beautiful breakaway. Happily, we held onto the lead all the way up through the first and second periods until captain Dustin Brown got the Kings an equalizer halfway through third.

The game became a typical nailbiter as we waited to see if anyone else would score in regulation. Going into overtime, I was beginning to feel nauseous. But luckily, Corey Perry saved us all. The crowd roared, we screamed and random high-fives were shared.

It was a tremendous win for our boys, another two points for the playoff race, and an incredibly comfortable walk back to our cars.

Particularly satisfying was hearing a young boy walking with his parents, who were both clad in Kings jerseys, "Mommy, can you buy me a Ducks jersey?"


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ducks vs St. Louis Blues

This one wasn't pretty, but it was two points... and we'll take it.

I'll do the post just like the game: quick and dirty.

It was the obligatory St. Patty's Day game, even though it's actually 3/16.

The Ponda ice with an eerie green glow

Goaltender Dan Ellis' new Duck-themed pads and mask came in. He was sporting them during warmups.


Apparently, Ellis is going with a zombie Duck groove

Unfortunately, he wouldn't get a chance to try out the new gear tonight. Ray Emery started.

In his first game start in over a year, Emery held up well

He faced 31 shots, and stopped all but one. Not bad at all, but his rebounds do give me ulcers.

Jason Blake lit the lamp twice. One was a fluky bounce, the other was a sweet redirect off a slapper from Lubomir Visnovsky.

Otherwise, the game was fairly flat. Our boys didn't play a full 60 minutes, but they played enough to beat the Blues.

The boys celebrate a win with Emery

The Ducks break back into the top 8

Here's hoping we can stay there!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ducks vs Vancouver Canucks

Proceeds from tonight's game against the Vancouver Canucks went to benefit the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). Choco Bear toys with autographed 3rd jerseys were sold before the game, and the advertising space along the rink boards was donated to the hospital.

Before the game, a ceremonial puck drop between Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and Canucks captain Henrik Sedin

As was reported the night previously, Canucks fans had arrived in Southern California by the boatload. They had completely invaded the Staples Center for the Canucks/Kings game the night before, and planned to finish their weekend at the Ponda.

Canucks fans filling the lower bowl

I don't think I've ever seen so many Canadian team fans before!

Also in attendance, a bunch of Ducks fans dressed head to toe in orange spandex. I had first spied them sitting next to the Ducks' penalty box during the Stars/Ducks game. Obviously, they were more fitting tonight given the Canucks' infamous "Green Men," who were also here tonight.

Even more of a reason to stay out of the sin bin, you'd get heckled by these guys

Despite the charitable theme, the Canucks weren't in such a giving mood. At least not when winning is concerned. Our boys got blanked 0-3.

Maybe the Orange Men will return to see a win

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ducks vs Dallas Stars

I was at this game, but without the camera. What I failed to capture was Lubomir Visnovsky's second career hat trick!! His first came when he was with the Los Angeles Kings. Back when I first started watching hockey, I watched the Kings and loudly noted that Lubo seemed to be the only player that knew what he was doing...

In any case, it was an awesome game, an awesome win, and an awesome treat for the fans to see a guy who works as hard as Lubo get his hat trick at home.

He was also awarded first star of the game, and he accepted the honor amidst tons of screaming fans. Raising his hands in the air, he skated around and broadly beamed throughout his post-game interview.

Kudos to Lubo!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ducks vs Detroit Red Wings

I have a coworker whose father's season seats are two rows behind the Anaheim Ducks bench. Earlier in the season, the coworker brought a list to work of games that were available for us to buy her father's season seats to, and I'd chosen one thinking, "Well, it'll be an awesome opportunity to get some really great pictures..."

So I bought a pair to one game.

Six months later, that game had finally arrived.

Going into this one, I wasn't too sure how I was going to feel. Our boys are fragile having tenuously broken a 5-game losing streak, missing their starting goaltender in Jonas Hiller, and having Saku Koivu still out with groin issues. The Western Conference is a veritable logjam, with less than five points separating 4th from 11th place.

And the Detroit Red Wings are hot right now. Two nights prior, they beat the pants off the Los Angeles Kings in a 7-4 contest. Ducks fans were happy to see the Kings beat, but it scared the bejeezus out of us to know we were, most likely, the Wings' next victim.

I told my seat partner, "We'll have awesome seats, but don't expect to see a win tonight." That was going to be my mindset for the game.

Holy seats, Batman!

I wonder what Teemu Selanne thinks about during the national anthem

The seats were indeed, awesome. If you've never been this close to the glass before, I can tell you that you get a real appreciation for the speed of the game at this distance. The players look huge, and the action is breathtaking. The hits sound harder and you can hear the players yell at one another on the ice. In terms of watching the game, you get to see the plays up close, but a lot of the action in the corners is lost.

Especially if you're short.


Corey Perry: "Can I tell Datsyuk he's gonna get it?"

I spent the better part of the first period just taking pictures. Our Ducks came out strong and hard, hopefully they could keep that up. For a team on the road, the Red Wings also came out hard. But then again, what else do you expect from them?

Luca Sbisa finishes a big hit

Both teams had good chances at goals, but luck and good goaltending kept pucks out of each net through the first.


Doin' work for the Ducks during Jonas Hiller's absence, Dan Ellis

Coach Carlyle reviewing plays during a TV timeout

The score was 0-0 going into the 1st intermission.

Before the second started up, I was still snapping shots of the players trickling out onto the ice. Bobby Ryan stood facing the glass, chatting with a few other players who were sitting on the bench. He caught my gaze and winked. Dan Sexton also gave me a smile as he took his seat on the bench.


At that point I'd pretty much decided, win or lose, my night had been made.

The Red Wings only goal that night, courtesy of number 13, Pavel Datsyuk

Five minutes into the second, Datsyuk breaks the stalemate on a power play. Speaking of power plays, the Wings ended up getting nine opportunities tonight to our Ducks' four. Lopsided much?

Try as they might, the Ducks couldn't find that equalizer during the next 15 minutes of play. But not for a lack of chances! Bobby, Teemu Selanne, Cam Fowler, and Corey Perry all had opportunities. Wings' goaltender Jimmy Howard came up big each time.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf in the faceoff

Go defense: Lubomir Visnovsky, Cam Fowler, and (sitting) Toni Lydman

Our defense also came up big. Despite constant pressure from the Wings (honestly, neither team had a lacking period this game), Ducks defense was good. I noticed the younger guys making offensive-minded plays. Fowler taking slap shots from the blue line, Sbisa launching a perfect cross-ice bid from Selanne towards the net, Lydman keeping distances between himself and the Wing offense small and not letting anyone get a shot lined up... it was intense.

This, folks, was playoff hockey.



Early in the third, a surprise shot from Jason Blake near the blue line goes over Howard's shoulder and into the net. Ducks tie it up, 1-1.

Blake with the equalizer

Play continued back and forth, both Howard and Dan Ellis acting the stone wall. If Ellis is trying to prove his worth to his new team, I've gotta say he's putting up a great argument.



I also have to give tremendous kudos to our penalty kill. They were completely resilient in eight of those nine Red Wing power plays, including a heart-pounding 3-on-5 and a 'too many men on the ice' Duck penalty with only 15 seconds left in regulation.


Do or die, Ducks

Talk about a heart attack. Ducks go into the 4-on-4 overtime period with only three men on the ice. Somehow, somehow, we get through that penalty intact. I notice Ryan Getzlaf dawdling with the puck in the defensive zone. The clock reads 2:55 left in overtime. C'mon boys... don't waste time!

Suddenly, he whips a perfect stretch pass out to Bobby who's leaving the neutral zone. On a breakaway, Ruslan Salei takes a hooking penalty as he gets his stick blade caught in Bobby's skate. Bobby goes down and, to the roar of the crowd, is awarded a penalty shot.

This special moment brought to you by numbers 15 and 9

Everyone had to stand for this one. Bobby's first NHL career penalty shot. I'm sure I wasn't alone, my heart pounding in my chest, watching him head down the ice towards Howard. I couldn't see exactly what was happening, but you didn't have to see. The roar of the crowd as the puck flew past Howard and into the net was all that was needed. Bobby also yelled in celebration and slammed himself into the glass right before he was mobbed by his teammates from the bench.

Ducks celebrating Bobby's penalty shot goal, winning the game

Bobby being interviewed as the game's First Star

This one would go down as Bobby's first career OT winner and only the fourth penalty shot overtime goal in club history.

A lot of screaming was done that night. That and high-fiving strangers, dancing in the stands and parking lot, and watching fans clad in red hurry from the premises.

It was beautiful. And if you were there for this game, you witnessed a little piece of Anaheim Ducks history.

My Zimbio
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