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

Showing posts with label Teemu Selanne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teemu Selanne. Show all posts

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ducks vs Chicago Blackhawks

Something different for this post?

No, we still lost.

But I'm going to do a little something I don't do much of around here anymore, and that's write. It's been hard to do much posting... I mean, it's always hard to write about losses. But this season's string of losses (the last time we won one was 11/11 and I was out of the country that night) has gotten even the most faithful of Duck fans frustrated.

Is it the players?

Is it the coaching staff?

Is it the head coach?

Is it the GM?

Or any combination of the above? The answers are probably in the locker room, at every intermission, at every practice, after every game. But we fans are pretty much in the dark, with only our own speculations and rumors to go off of.

And the rumors have been kinda nasty. Maybe a key player will get traded off. Maybe a bunch of young talent will go with him. Maybe a majority of the team will be disassembled before the coaching staff is touched.

I've heard rumors that Bobby Ryan may be on the trading block, with Toronto and Buffalo interested. Ugh. If that happens, either Toronto or Buffalo will be getting a new fan, much the same as I've followed center Matthew Lombardi from Calgary to Phoenix to Nashville, and now to Toronto.

But who's to say?

All I know is that I've seen too many games where the same tired, unconfident team takes the ice. I've seen too many dump and chase maneuvers fall flat. Too many leads lost when the offense disappears and the defense fails to achieve. Too many players waste their skills on plays and styles that don't suit them.

And it's so hard to see this happen.

I feel so horrible for Teemu Selanne, who came back for one more year but might not even see a postseason. This is no way for Selanne to end his career. I feel horrible for the goalies, who might put in a perfect game save the fact that they cannot score all of the team's goals in addition to protecting their nets. I feel horrible for the young guys who are trying so hard, but whose development is undoubtedly being stunted by everything going on around them.

And I feel horrible for us fans who paid to helplessly watch this happen night in and night out.

Please, comments are welcomed.

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Ellis: "Dude, you don't EVEN know the half of it..."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ducks vs Detroit Red Wings

Another loss. Not much else to say, just some pictures to share.

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Check out Dan Ellis' new mask, inspired by the Ducks tradition of honoring one of our soldiers at every home game

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Newly acquired off waivers from Calgary, defenseman Niklas Hagman. (Please save us?)

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Corey Perry in his usual spot next to the opposing goaltender, waiting for pucks to tip in

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Captain Ryan Getzlaf concentrating at the faceoff

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Pavel Datsyuk, the one Red Wing I can't hate because he's just so damn silky smooth

Monday, August 29, 2011

14th Annual Fedorin Cup

The temperature gauge in my truck read "105°F." But I wasn't worried about being the least bit miserable. This is when being a hockey fan in Southern California pays off in dividends.

What better place to be than in the crisp, cool environment of an ice hockey rink?

With the smell of the rink, the sound of the puck bouncing off the boards and glass, and the buzzing of starved hockey fans, Anaheim Ice was the place to be last Saturday afternoon.

Originally established in 1998 in memory of Eric Fedorin, a Californian hockey player whose life was cut short by brain cancer, the annual Fedorin Cup raises money for cancer charities. Hockey pros of the past and present play a friendly game of puck, prizes are auctioned and raffled off, and hockey fans gather in the spirit of giving and preseason excitement.

I've been to this event for the past two years and it always signals a sort of pre-preseason for me. Hockey's coming back, and the fans are more than ready.

This year's roster was a little short on the star power, but one star made up for that. It wasn't until the very last minute that we found out Teemu Selanne would be playing, but that didn't keep the fans from lining up hours beforehand.

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Packed house at Anaheim Ice

The format was according to tradition, Team USA versus Team Canada, with any token Finns suiting up with the Americans. Rookies were linemates with local veterans and NHLers. Rosters included newly-retired Todd Marchant, fresh-acquisition Jake Newton, and perennial favorite Rick Hutchinson (all playing on Team USA); and journeyman Sean Pronger and ex-Duck-now-King Dustin Penner (both playing on Team Canada).

Let's check out the pictures!

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I spy Teemu at the right end of that lineup!

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Team Canada standing tall during their national anthem

Would it surprise anyone that Teemu got the loudest cheers?

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Selanne and Team Canada captain Jason Marshall in the ceremonial puck drop

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Selanne in his "office" waiting for the pass

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You could feel the audience holding their breath every time Teemu approached the goal...

The Flash looked absolutely awesome out on the ice. He was his usual speedy self and, even though the hands looked a tad rusty, the huge smile on his face spoke volumes. The man loves this game.

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Todd Marchant and Dustin Penner exchange pleasantries at the beginning of the second

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Even the rookies got a chance to shine.

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First-timer Erle Petrie lands one in behind goaltender Tom Spiers

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Free agency signee Jack Newton, a defenseman that the Ducks acquired last year, also looked very promising. I believe he scored twice

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A laser courtesy of Tyler Robertson

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Team USA celebrating Robertson's goal

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Selanne winding up...

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... and chasing in the corners

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I'm glad Marchant also got some love from the crowd

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I tried to get in on Newton's game-worn jersey in the silent auction, but was outbid

Despite Team USA's substantial lead over Team Canada at one point, Canada rallied to bring things to a shootout.

Teemu always has tricks up his sleeve for a shootout. This one was no different. With speed, he approached Spiers, came to a halt and, as the goaltender lost sight of the puck and spun around, snuck it slowly behind his back through the paint and into the goal.

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Another Teemu classic

The crowd erupted, of course.

The final Team USA shooter sealed the deal, and Team USA would win it!

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The ceremonial postgame handshake

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Everyone assembled for the group photo...

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... and then individual photos with Teemu, who gladly obliged them all

I'm not going to ponder about Teemu's pending retirement decision. We'll all know soon enough. But if the Fedorin is any indication, I'd say stopping now looks like the last thing he wants to do.

Next up, the Ducks will open training camp on September 17th. Get ready, hockey fans!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 Playoffs: Round 1 Game 2 vs Nashville Predators

After Game 1's weak performance, I'm sure I wasn't the only Duck fan wanting our boys to step up in Game 2. We didn't watch them struggle so hard to get home ice only to have them drop both games at home!

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Ray Emery between the pipes this time

It seems the hockey gods were on our side as the Predators took two penalties early in the first. Ducks made them pay on the 5-on-3 and again on the 5-on-4. The energy fueled fans and players alike as the Ducks turned out a much-improved first period of true playoff hockey. They took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.

That's how you do it, boys!

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Lovin' the new kid line of Matt Beleskey, Brandon McMillan (not pictured), and Nick Bonino

The speed and energy of our new kid line spun the Nashville defenders in circles as they kept the puck in the offensive zone. Great shifts for the young guns.

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Our big line finally showed up to play too. Corey Perry got one of the two goals in the first, and his counterparts Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf would both light the lamp in the second. With some beautiful saves by Emery, the Ducks were able to keep the Preds to only one goal for their four through the first 40 minutes of play.

Nashville rallied during the third and managed to close the goal gap to one. But Bobby sealed their fate with an empty netter in the last minute of regulation.

When you know your team can play with this level of passion and skill, you gotta believe they can turn this series around. It's even now, 1-1, and hopefully our boys are able to pull off a couple more wins during games 3 and 4 in Nashville.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2001 Playoffs: Round 1 Game 1 vs Nashville Predators

It's a special time of year, folks. A time that brings out the best in fans and teams alike.

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It's a time that brings the orange towels back to the Ponda

It's playoffs!!

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And it feels all the more special because we didn't have a post-season last year. Our Anaheim Ducks screamed into the playoffs like a runaway train barreling down the tracks, not slowing until it had attained the 4th seed.

The 4th seed and home ice! As the final games of the season wound down, Dallas would fall out of playoff contention, both the Kings and the Coyotes would slip a notch or two from their seeds, and Chicago would conveniently squeeze into 8th.

The Ducks would face the Nashville Predators in round one.

Personally, I would have preferred a series against the Chicago Blackhawks over Nashville. Not because I think the Hawks would have been easy to beat, but rather, I don't like how well Pred's goaltender Pekka Rinne has managed to stymie our boys this season. The Preds have a rock-solid defense this season. If they manage to score a few goals early on, their defense collapses around their goaltender and they easily defend that lead to a victory.

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My biggest Predator: Pekka Rinne

Frustration isn't something our boys handle well, and with the questions still surrounding our goaltending situation, this wasn't going to be an easy series.

Either way, it is what it is. No reason why we can't enjoy the post-season for as long as we're in it!

Games 1 and 2 would be played at home, and the Ponda rolled out the playoff carpet for the fans.

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Eats and seats in the Playoff Spot outside the Ponda to get grub, beer, and watch ongoing playoff games before our game

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Inside the Ponda, playoff towels on every seat set the atmosphere

Expectations ran high for Game 1. Our boys were on a winning streak, hopefully they could keep the momentum going. There was an exceptionally emotional opening video which gave me chills and misty eyes at the same time. Win or lose, just being at a playoff game is awesome in and of itself.

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Would the big line continue to dominate?

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Dan Ellis would start in net, would he be able to hold down the fort?

Well... if you were there for Game 1, I don't need to tell you how disappointing that turned out to be. Our Ducks just couldn't get it together. Passes weren't connecting, play looked sloppy and disjointed, puck possession was non-existent, and the passion... the drive... it just wasn't there.

The Preds, to give them credit, came out with guns ablazing. Delivering hard hits and putting tons of pressure on the puck, they backed our Ducks into a corner. Even the power play was nullified. The first two periods would see them putting three unanswered goals on the board.

I don't want to be one to complain about the officiating, but honestly, it didn't help. Our boys got frustrated with ticky-tack calls and non-calls, and that only led to sloppy penalties.

Ellis made some great saves in the beginning, but having no support can wear a goaltender down. I think his confidence was shaken as pucks began to get by him. After the fourth Pred goal during the third period, Ellis was pulled for Ray Emery.

Emery managed to stop the bleeding, but by the middle of the third, the Preds had pretty much stopped pushing. Teemu Selanne, bless his heart, got the Ducks on the board with about 8 minutes left in the third.

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This towel-waving opportunity brought to you by Teemu Selanne

But that would be it for this game. As discouraging and frustrating as it may be, I simply cannot justify leaving before a game is over. Come on people, you're supposed to be fans, this is your team.

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Hard to believe it was a sold-out crowd at the beginning of the game...

Luckily a series isn't lost with the first game.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ducks vs Los Angeles Kings

This was the Anaheim Ducks annual Fan Appreciation Game but, more importantly, it was the game that, if won in regulation, would allow the Ducks to clinch a playoff berth.

Either way, it was going to be a big game made even bigger considering the opponents were none other than hated rivals the Los Angeles Kings.

Still out with a lower body injury, Ray Emergy would sit this one out as a healthy scratch. Jonas Hiller was announced as the backup to Dan Ellis.

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As exciting as it was to see Hiller, I really prayed that Ellis would be on his game tonight. Hiller did NOT look sharp during warmups

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Serious expressions on the faces of our Ducks. There was a lot riding on this game

In the early minutes of the game, both teams took their time feeling one another out. With Jonathan Quick in goal for the Kings, I suspected it would be harder rather than easier to get pucks into the net.

The Kings would score first, making the score 1-0 as we entered the first intermission.

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Ryan Getzlaf's bid goes wide

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RPG line attempting to crash the crease and get traffic to the net

Honestly, I feel that our boys play better when they're trying to come up from behind. Call it that extra bit of motivation, they just seem to be that much hungrier.

At about the game's halfway mark, they would be rewarded.

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The Ponda erupting with a goal by the great eight

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Just another record set in another typical night for the Finnish Flash

The score at the end of the 2nd is 1-1. 20-minute hockey game, folks.

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I wonder which section won the thunder sticks??

The tempo of the 3rd was fast and feverish. Both teams pushed themselves to break the tie. I was particularly happy with how loud the crowd was. Definitely felt like playoff atmosphere.

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And then, with a little over fourteen minutes to go, the Flash decides this team isn't going to get any help reaching playoffs (Dallas just won over the Colorado Avalanche, keeping them in the race), so he took matters into his own hands.

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Off an amazing feed from Saku Koivu, Selanne gets one behind a falling Quick

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The Masterton line, getting work done

The crowd is on their feet, screaming. Ducks have pushed ahead 2-1. If only our boys can just hang on! Fourteen minutes have never felt so long.

Thanks to the heroics of Ellis in goal, and a defense that has had a season to finely tune itself, our boys get the job done. Ducks win 2-1 but more importantly, ensure themselves a spot in the top eight.

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We're going to playoffs!!

 
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