Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anaheim vs Chicago

The toughest losses are the ones you don't deserve. With a tremendous offensive effort and multiple scoring opportunities, the Ducks should have had this game in the bag, but lost to the incredibly tough defense of the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2.

The first goal of the game went to the Blackhawks, just three minutes into the first period. The Ducks got their chance to retaliate halfway through the first after the Blackhawks were called on a bench minor for too many men on the ice. With a man advantage, Bobby Ryan scored a power play goal, continuing his 5 game goal streak and increasing his tally to 11 for the month of January alone, a rookie record.

The Ducks still struggle with keeping penalties to a minimum, which the Blackhawks took advantage of. Less than four minutes after tying the score, Steve Montador is put in the sin bin for roughing. Blackhawks player Patrick Kane found the back of the net on the powerplay, putting them ahead by one.

The Ducks would fall further behind in the first few minutes of the second period after another Chicago goal by Jonathan Toews. With a two goal lead, the Ducks were desperate for a goal to get back some momentum. Salvation came in the form of Travis Moen, who scored a shorthanded goal after Ducks player Chris Pronger was sent to the penalty box on a hi-sticking call. Unfortunately for the Ducks, that would be the last goal of the game, leaving them with a one goal deficit at the end of regulation.

The third period, although seemingly boring in the boxscores yielding nothing more than a trivial penalty to Ryan Carter for holding, was one of the more intense 20 minutes of the game. For almost four minutes, the Ducks controlled the puck in the Blackhawk zone, taking multiple shots, none of which were successful. One shot seemed to go in, but the goal was waved off on account of the net being moved by a Blackhawk player that fell over it, to the lament of the Ducks. They pulled netminder Jonas Hiller from the goal in the last 1:19, but even with an extra attacker, the Ducks couldn't get one past Blackhawk goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Khabibulin blocked 36 of the 38 attempts of the Ducks to score.

Hiller started in the goal tonight, for a consecutive night after winning over the Phoenix Coyotes last night with a score of 7-3. He blocked 24 of 27 shots tonight.

Tonight also saw the return of Teemu Selanne, who had been absent from the last 17 games on an injury from a leg laceration. While his performance tonight wasn't exactly noteworthy, it was one more step on his road to perfect recovery.

This loss puts the Ducks back to tie the Coyotes for second in their division, despite the ass kicking they delivered last night. Also tied are the San Jose Sharks and the Boston Bruins, for first in the league. The Ducks next face the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Friday. The Avalanche have suffered through a startlingly bad first half of the season, and were most recently shut out by the San Jose Sharks tonight, 3-0. Here's hoping the Ducks can emulate that performance.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some Fowl Play....

Two goals in a span of 35 seconds, including one shady goal by Redwings player, Johan Franzen takes away the third period lead from the Ducks, leaving them with a 4-3 loss. It was the first time this season that the Ducks have lost a lead going into the third period.

The Ducks had a very strong first period, after falling behind 1-0, a goal by Ryan Getzlaf and a powerplay goal by Corey Perry two minutes later Anaheim a strong lead going into second stanza. Anaheim had outshot the Redwings, 15-9 in just the first period and only earned one penalty to Scott Niedermeyer for slashing. The Ducks killed that penalty and managed to score on one of the two power plays they received in the first 20 minutes of regulation.

The second period saw a monstrous defensive effort by the Ducks, especially by netminder JS Giguere. He defended 12 of 13 shots, allowing a powerplay goal after Chris Pronger was penalized for cross-checking. It was one of two penalties the Ducks would earn in the second period. Offensively, the Ducks didnt have too much opportunity to score, as the Redwings only allowed 4 shots in the middle period. Even with only 4 shots taken, Steve Montador found the back of the net seconds after the end of a powerplay, keeping a one goal lead for the Ducks going into the third period. The Ducks had never lost a game with a third period lead prior to tonight.

That all changed in a span of 35 seconds as Redwings player Dan Cleary got a goal to tie the score. The tiebreaker was credited to Redwings player Johan Franzen, on a goal that could have been dismissed on a high sticking call. The puck was batted in by Franzen's stick that looked inches above Giguere's head, grounds for a penalty call. The shot was ruled as a goal, however, and the Ducks were ultimately unable to recover. The Ducks took 9 shots in the last period of regulation to the Redwings' 11, mostly during the last two minutes as Giguere headed to the bench to give Anaheim an extra attacker, but to no avail.

Giguere defended 29 of 33 shots while the Ducks were only able to attempt 28. The Ducks only spent 8 minutes in the sin bin, and sucessfully defended all but one penalty. The Redwings were also awarded four penalties, and only scored on one powerplay.

The Ducks are now due for a roadtrip to the east coast to play Pittsburg on Friday. They go into the contest with a 22-18-5 record with 49 points. The league leader, San Jose, remains just one point ahead of the Boston Bruins, with 69 points.

Lets Go Ducks!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another Wasted Comeback

The Ducks were struck down by the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight after making a second period comeback to tie the score. Playing catch-up proved to be insufficient for the Ducks to win as they played a game shockingly similar to last night's effort against the Kings.

The Lightning took a quick lead, scoring a short-handed goal just three minutes into the first period. Tampa Bay player Ryan Craig was sent to the penalty box for a tripping call, but even with an extra attacker, the Ducks couldnt score a goal or even defend their own zone.

Tampa Bay would score again in the first few minutes of the second period to seemingly put the game out of reach for the Ducks. Ducks rookie Andrew Ebbett scored the first Anaheim goal on a powerplay midway through the second period. It was Ebbett's second career goal since he was recently called up from the Duck's AHL affiliate, the Iowa Chops.

Tampa Bay was granted another opportunity to score when Chris Pronger was sent to the penalty box on a cross-checking call, and Lightning player Ryan Malone took advantage to put the Lightning ahead 3-1.

In just 12 seconds, the Ducks turned the game around from a two goal deficit to a tied score, with goals from Steve Montador and Chris Pronger. The score was tied at 3 apiece, and fans were wondering whether they were just watching a replay of last night's game.

Indeed they were. Lightning player Ryan Malone scored his second goal of the game to put Tampa Bay ahead, 4-3. The Ducks never recovered from that lead.

The Ducks took 32 shots on goal tonight, but Jonas Hiller was unable to defend 4 of the 19 shots he faced. That was all it took for the Lightning to strike the Ducks out.

Six of tonight's players started this season in Iowa, playing for the AHL. Through injuries and suspensions, they've been called up to play in the NHL to keep the Ducks afloat while their starters recover. One player, Matt Beleskey, arrived at the Honda Center just 15 minutes before the puck dropped, an emergency call up to replace an injured Todd Marchant.

The Ducks also recently lost enforcer Brad May in a trade to Toronto. May was traded to the Ducks just a few months before they won the Stanley Cup in 2007. Temporarily missing from the lineup is Kent Huskins, Teemu Selanne, Brad Larsen, Francois Beauchemin and Corey Perry. Perry is expected to return for the game against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, as his suspension ends. Todd Marchant was absent tonight and remains on a day-to-day decision on whether he plays.

The Ducks will next play the New Jersey Devils on Sunday at 5.

In the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets shut out the Washington Capitals with a score of 0-3, the Buffalo Sabers beat the New York Rangers in a shootout, and San Jose won over Edmonton with a score of 4-1. The San Jose Sharks continue to lead the league with 65 points, with Boston in a close second place with 64 points.

Sure Doesnt Look Like a Rookie...

Bobby Ryan had his first career hat trick in front of a sold out crowd at the Staples Center last night. Its a shame that the Ducks couldn't rely on just that to win over the Los Angeles Kings, as they lost 4-3.

After falling 0-3 to the Kings midway through the second period, Ryan took matters into his own hands and scored three goals in 2:21, a franchise record, to put the Ducks back in the game. The Ducks struggled to generate a successful offense and were unable to overcome the Kings' fourth powerplay goal for the win.

The Ducks had plenty of opportunity with seven power plays through regulation, and played most of the second period with a man advantage. The Ducks still allowed 27 shots and gave up four penalties, the last of which gave the Kings the chance to score their game winning goal.

JS Giguere was pulled from the net after the Kings scored their second goal in the first 37 seconds of the second period. Backup goalie Jonas Hiller didn't fare much better, allowing the Kings third goal midway through the second, and the game winning goal on a powerplay halfway through the third.

The Ducks hope to redeem themselves from this disappointing loss when they play tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning at home.

Lets Go Ducks

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Freeway Brawl

For a rivalry game, you'd think they'd muster up a little more enthusiasm, but it was a quiet game as the Ducks took down the Los Angeles Kings, 3-1 at home.

Bobby Ryan has become irreplaceable to the Ducks, and is the NHL rookie leader in points per game. He scored the first goal for Anaheim off a pass from Ryan Getzlaf to put the Ducks ahead 1-0 late in the first period.

The Duck's defense was the most critical aspect of their game tonight, holding the Kings to just 18 shots throughout regulation, killing off 4 of 5 penalties, and even managing to score a goal. Because of the absence of Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, one of the Duck's top defensive players, Samuel Pahlsson, was placed on the power play unit, and found the back of the net on a power play halfway through the second period to break the tied 1-1 game.

The Ducks scored their third and final goal in the last 7 seconds of the game on an empty net shot by Rob Niedermeyer.

The Ducks only earned four 2 minute minor penalties throughout the game, but the Kings saw their opportunity to score on the only 5-3 advantage they were allowed in the first minute of the second period. Rob Niedermeyer and Samuel Pahlsson both earned time in the sin bin for separate hooking and tripping calls.

Jonas Hiller stopped 17 of 18 shots the Kings took, and has started in the net for the past two games. After earning his third career shutout against Phoenix on Sunday, Hiller has proven he's a consistent netminder, and tonights results only reinforce that.

Elsewhere in the NHL, both Boston and San Jose lost to teams they shouldnt have lost to. Boston fell to Minnesota 1-0 and Calgary beat San Jose 5-2. Guess you cant win them all.

Lets Go Ducks!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

When Superstars are MIA, Rookies Show You How to Play

Tonight's game against the Phoenix Coyotes proved that even without their starters, the Ducks are still a force to be reckoned with. Battling for second place in the Western Pacific Division, the Ducks shut out the Coyotes at home, securing themselves the spot and a 6th place standing overall in the league.

Through some incredible defensive effort, and constant pressure in the neutral zone, the Ducks kept control of the puck most of the night, with 34 shots to the Coyotes' 29. Perhaps the most prominent figure on the defense tonight was netminder Jonas Hiller, who stopped all 29 goals for his third career shutout. This was his first game in the net since the December 28th win over St Louis.

Both of Anaheim's goals were scored on power plays, the first credited to Chris Pronger and the second to Bobby Ryan. This is Ryan's 7th goal of the season. Both goals were assisted by Ducks veteran Scott Niedermeyer.

The PK unit has once again proved itself indispensable, as it killed all three penalties to the Ducks, including a pivotal double minor high-sticking penalty late in the second period to newcomer Brendan Mikkelson. This was the rookie's first game with the Ducks, filling in for Corey Perry as he serves his suspension. Also new to the lineup is Drew Miller, who joined rookie Andrew Ebbett and veteran center Brendan Morrison on the line. Hiller's efforts on defending the net during critical penalties earned him recognition as he was named a Star of the Game. Pretty interesting to note that he's considered the "backup goalie".

JS Giguere wasn't the only one missing from the lineup tonight. Teemu Selanne's leg injury has kept him out for another game, and will continue to keep him benched for a few more weeks. Corey Perry was sentenced to a four game suspension after Friday's game against Philadelphia, when he viciously elbowed a Flyer. Francois Beauchemin is still recovering from a knee injury that was diagnosed earlier in the season.

The Ducks are now second in their division, behind the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks took back the lead of the league after a win over the New York Islanders . The Boston Bruins lost to the Buffalo Sabers, leaving them again one point behind the Sharks. The Ducks will take on the Los Angeles Kings in a back to back freeway rivalry on Tuesday and Thursday. The Kings are looking strong after beating Philadelphia, a team the Ducks lost to in a shootout last Friday. After working so hard to secure second place in the division, it would be disappointing to lose it all to a team like Los Angeles

The NHL has announced the teams for the All Star Game to take place in Montreal to honor the centennial season for the Canadiens on the 25th of January. Three Ducks were nominated to start in the game, goaltender JS Giguere, captain Scott Niedermeyer and center Ryan Getzlaf. Starters for the games are voted for by fans and NHL officials choose the other players. It is a huge honor for these Ducks and for the team to have such a showing in the All Star Game. They will play with and against various players from teams all over the United States and Canada. Kinda makes you proud to be a Ducks fan, doesnt it?

Lets Go Ducks!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Broken Records and Hearts

The Ducks lost in a heartbreaking shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-4, in a very emotional game. The Ducks were an offensive force to be reckoned with, but couldnt hold their lead.

In front of a record-breaking sellout crowd, the Ducks fought to break an almost constant tied score throughout the game, but failed to defend their net. Twice in the second period, the Ducks went ahead of the Flyers, but almost immediately after they scored, the Flyers returned with a goal of their own.

The competition reached new heights as emotions took hold. Lately the Ducks have been struggling with energy levels out on the ice, but that wasnt apparent tonight as fights and vicious hits appeared throughout the game. Towards the end of the first period, George Parros and Philadelphia player Riley Cote dropped their gloves and went at it. Seconds after they were broken up and play resumed, Steve Montador took up the fisticuffs with another Flyer. All players involved were awarded 5 minute major penalties for fighting.

Typically a tough period for the Ducks, the second period of this game was perhaps the most exciting in a long time. After Corey Perry tied the score at the end of the first, Rob Niedermeyer and rookie Andrew Ebbett gave the Ducks two goals to put them ahead of the Flyers 3-1. The Flyers were quick to respond with two goals of their own. Exactly one minute after Flyer Braydon Coburn scored to tie the game, Ryan Getzlaf found the back of the net to put the Ducks ahead by one, 4-3. Fourteen seconds after that, the Flyers tied the score once again, ultimately sending the game into a shootout.

The PK unit was tested tonight as the Ducks earned 8 penalties throughout the game, four of them in the third period alone. With Montador and Parros each earning 5 minutes for their fights in the first, the Ducks recieved 3 hooking calls, one roughing call, one call for holding the stick (isnt that what you're supposed to do in hockey?) and a double minor for high sticking. The penalty kill unit defended all but one penalty.

Scott Niedermeyer earned his 500th career assist tonight after the second goal of the night, a milestone not often reached by hockey players today.

The Ducks will have to walk away from this game with only one point to their credit, despite having one of the best games of the season. This is the only point out of a possible four for the last two games at home. They will have another opportunity to win at home against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday the 4th.

Elsewhere in the NHL, the Boston Bruins have officially taken the lead, with 62 points over the Shark's 61. The takeover is hard for some Sharks fans that have gotten comfortable with being in the lead for most of the season. Looks like it may not be the year for championships for San Jose after all. =)

Lets Go Ducks!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Bitter Start But Hopefully Not a Trend

The Ducks suffered a bitter loss to Columbus on a New Years Eve matchup at the Honda Center. After earning 3 of a possible 4 points on their last road trip, it was difficult to see the Ducks unable to score on any of the numerous opportunities afforded to them at home.

The game was slow to start, and the mundane level of energy carried through all three periods, even with all of the opportunities afforded to the Ducks. The Columbus Bluejackets spent a lot of time in the sin bin over the course of the game, earning 6 penalties in all. Even with the powerplays, the Ducks were unable to get past Bluejacket goaltender, Steve Mason, who earned his third straight shutout at the end of regulation.

Penalties for the Ducks were reasonably low, yet Ducks fans still found reason to shout "Ref you suck!" during the course of the game. 18 minutes into the second period, Corey Perry flicked a wrist shot that went up and over Mason's right shoulder. The goal was waved off, however, due to a delayed penalty that resulted in a stoppage of play before the shot was taken. Upset fans and players alike made their fury known as yells of "Ref you suck!" broke out in the crowd, and fights broke out on the ice.

The Ducks had plenty of opportunity to score, but were unable to capitalize on any of the powerplays they were awarded, including a 6-4 advantage in the last few minutes in the third. They outshot the Bluejackets 10-7 in the first period, but lost their aggressive offense in the second period, allowing 12 shots to their 5. The third period saw a more even offensive effort by both teams, the Ducks outshooting the Bluejackets 12-10. Noticeably absent from the lineup was Ducks superstar Teemu Selanne, after suffering a leg injury. He will be out for 4-6 weeks. His loss hurt the Ducks undeniably, but a team cannot rely on one player to win games. The Ducks have been experimenting with different players to fill in, but it seems they'll have to keep trying. Replacing the Finnish Flash seems an impossible task, but the Ducks will have to compensate or else suffer the same fate as last night.

Even if their offense wasnt up to par with the Bluejackets, their defense was spectacular. JS Giguere had 27 saves, and the defensive players killed all the penalties, including a five on three late in the third, without letting the Bluejackets score. But it takes more than a solid effort on defense to win a game, as the Ducks proved in their last game of 2008.

2009 will hopefully see a turnaround not only in Ducks hockey, but all over the NHL. The Boston Bruins are now only one point behind the Sharks, Sean Avery is still unable to find a new team to join after being excused from the Dallas Stars after his latest antics ("sloppy seconds" serves you right, you asshole!), and the aftermath of this year's Winter Classic (score update: Redwings lead the Blackhawks 4-3 at the end of the second).

Last but certainly not least, a shoutout to my "fans". A few friends have mentioned to me that they read these updates as often as they can, and I'd like to take the opportunity to thank them for their support. Chris Torres, Chris Gordon, Jason Aho and whoever else finds these the least bit entertaining, I appreciate you. Thanks and enjoy!

Should Auld Acquantaince Be Forgot...

Or not. It would seem no one's forgotten their old rivalries in the annual Winter Classic this year in Chicago, as the Blackhawks take on the hated Detroit Redwings. The game is still ongoing, but the Chicago Blackhawks are leading the Detroit Redwings 3-2 early in the second period. The 8th ranked Blackhawks cant credit their lead from being on home ice, as this year's classic is taking place in an outdoor rink at the home of the Chicago Cub's Wrigley Field.

The rink was created over a span of many days, with several delays due to bad weather. The bitter weather continued to the start of the game, but that hasn't deterred thousands of fans from filling the stadium to watch this unique matchup.

The game has been surprisingly physical, with several cringe-worthy cross checks into the boards, and quite a few incidents of fisticuffs. Scoring for both teams has been credited to quick action on the rebounds, allowing little time for the netminders to recover. The game is still ongoing, and hockey fans expect even more intense play before the end of regulation.