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!