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!

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