Sunday, March 22, 2009

Now That's More Like It

And so it turns out that the Ducks may make the playoffs after all. The Ducks earned another 2 points for a playoff spot in a decisive 6-2 victory over Phoenix tonight.

All it took was some excellent defense on the penalty kill and a strong offensive effort on powerplays to win. After going for 22 powerplays without any goals to show for it, they now have earned 7 powerplay goals in the past three games that have proved critical for their victories. Tonight, they scored 3 powerplay goals and 3 at even strength to overcome the Phoenix Coyotes, after winning against them on the road in a shootout on Thursday.

Also contributing to a more organized effort is the ice temperature, which I have on good authority has been unusually warm the past few games. If the ice isn't frozen hard, the divets made by the skates affects the trajectory of the puck to the point where teams get some pretty bad bounces at times. According to a pretty reliable source (not guarenteed, he's been known to pull my leg at times) the building temperature was lowered for tonight's game, keeping the ice frozen for a more smooth playing surface. If it's true, it's kinda fun to know.

The Ducks scored the first goal of the game five minutes into the first period, on a nice powerplay goal by Scott Niedermeyer. The Ducks went on a powerplay after Coyote Matthew Lombardi earned a hi-sticking penalty at 4:38. Just 17 seconds after going up a man, Chris Pronger got the puck to Niedermeyer to earn the first of three powerplay goals of the night.

George Parros and His Mustache earned the second goal for the Ducks late in the first period, on a wrist shot off a pass from Erik Christensen. The Coyotes would return with a goal in the first 48 seconds of the second period after Petr Prucha evaded Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller. Corey Perry would earn the third Ducks goal halfway through the second period, with an assist from Ryan Getzlaf.

Phoenix was desperate to make it a competitive game, but only came within one goal of the Duck's lead after scoring another goal at the 15 minute mark of the second period.

The third period started with a 3-2 score when Phoenix player Todd Fedoruk earned a penalty at 8:39 for interference. Ten seconds later, Ryan Getzlaf shot the puck past Coyotes' goalie and former Duck Stanley Champion Ilja Bryzgalov to put the Ducks ahead by two. The Ducks caught another break when Coyote Scottie Upshall earned a double minor for hi-sticking. Getzlaf earned his second powerplay goal for the night just 21 seconds after the call. Andrew Ebbett put the game away 26 seconds later with a powerplay goal of his own to make the score 6-2 with just under 3 minutes left in the game.

Tonight, the Ducks held on to the lead for the victory. The win was critical, as it put them just one point behind the 8th place Nashville Predators, whom they will need to beat if they want to make it to the playoffs in April. They will play Nashville on Tuesday on the road, which may be the deciding game for a playoff spot.

Also competing for a playoff spot are the Minnesota Wild, who, after beating 7th place Edmonton, are tied with the Ducks with 76 points in the 9th seed. Both teams are just one point away from the 8th spot that would ensure them a playoff berth. At the top of the Conferences are the Boston Bruins (102), the New Jersy Devils (97) and the Washington Capitals (96) in the East and the San Jose Sharks (106), the Detroit Redwings (105) and the Calgary Flames (88) in the West.

Lets Go Ducks! (Really, now we NEED it).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Just when a win became necessary to keep the playoff dreams alive, the Ducks pulled through, triumphing over Nashville in overtime, 4-3. Three powerplay goals gave the Ducks their win, and Teemu Selanne earned his 1,200th point after scoring the game-winning goal in the first 34 seconds of overtime.

Anaheim's Corey Perry scored the first goal of the game in the first 4:19 of regulation. It would also be the only goal for the Ducks that wasn't scored on a powerplay. The Predators evened the score five minutes later, on a powerplay after a tripping call on Todd Marchant. The Predators would go up in the second on a powerplay goal by Joel Ward after two penalties are called on Ryan Whitney and Todd Marchant for tripping and boarding.

Down by one with 9:47 left in the second period, Andrew Ebbett tied the score once again on a powerplay goal after a tripping call on Nashville. Rookie Bobby Ryan put the Ducks ahead in the third, on a powerplay goal at 11:38 after a Nashville player was sent to the sin bin for yet another tripping penalty. It looked like the Ducks had the game in the bag, when Predator Joel Ward got his second goal of the game, tying the score and sending the game into overtime. The Ducks were on a powerplay for the first 1:11 of overtime, but Teemu Selanne only needed the first 34 seconds to find the back of the net to win the game.

The Ducks have been struggling with their offensive effort but tonight they found themselves successful. Before tonight, they had been 0-22 of the last 22 powerplay opportunities. After scoring on 3 of 6 tonight, it seems they've improved. They had 31 shots tonight, and only allowed 24 from Nashville. JS Giguere successfully blocked 21 of those shots to give Anaheim the win tonight.

While tonight's victory was crucial to preserve the Duck's chances to make the playoffs, they're still not in the top 8. Every point is critical, and even allowing a point to Nashville for the overtime challenge may be devastating to their own playoff hopes. They next play Phoenix on the road before meeting up with the Coyotes again at home on Sunday. The Ducks have 72 points and are currently 12th in their division, with four points and five teams inbetween them and a playoff spot as of today. The Coyotes are seeded 14th, with 64 points.

Elsewhere in the NHL, the Detroit Redwings have clinched a playoff spot with 103 points and the San Jose Sharks have clinched their division, with 100 points. Following the Sharks are the Boston Bruins, with 99 points and the New Jersey Devils with 95 points.

Lets Go Ducks!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Frenzy of Fins and Feathers

As the season winds down and the fight for playoff position intensifies, the Ducks lose another chance to gain some points as they fell to San Jose 1-0.

The only goal of the game was scored by former Duck Travis Moen in the second period, who was traded to San Jose on the March 4th deadline.

San Jose's goalie, Evgeni Nabokov, had 34 saves tonight in his second straight win after defending all but one goal last night against the Kings. This is also his second night after returning from an injury to the lower body. His phenomenal goaltending kept the Sharks ahead through 5 penalties and several rebound opportunities that the Ducks fumbled.

Both teams were 0-5 on powerplays, with one major 5 minute penalty to each team for a fight between George Parros and San Jose's Jody Shelley. The other penalties were minors for interference, hooking, slashing and roughing.

Duck's netminder Jonas Hiller had 29 saves tonight, allowing only one goal to former Duck Travis Moen, on a redirect off Duck player Ryan Whitney that just scraped past Hiller. But one was all it took for the Sharks to win tonight, as the Ducks were unsuccessful in scoring any of the 34 shots they took.

This loss puts the Ducks back down into 12th place with 70 points, with 4 points inbetween them and a playoff spot behind Dallas. The Sharks have broken to 100 points in their season, behind Detroit who have clinched a playoff spot with 101 points. In the Eastern Conference, Boston leads with 99 points with New Jersey (93) and Washington (92) trailing behind.

Scores around the NHL included an upset with the Pittsburg Penguins winning against Boston, 6-4 with two goals scored by former Duck (and lover of mine) Chris Kunitz.
Also in the Eastern Conference, the 7th place New York Rangers won over 4th place Philidelphia. The Chicago Blackhawks surrendered to the last place New York Islanders 4-2, another unexpected upset.

The Ducks next play a pivotal game against 8th place Nashville at home before hitting the road against 28th place Phoenix Coyotes in the first of a two game series. The next few games will determine how much longer the season will continue for the Anaheim Ducks. Hopefully they'll make it through April!

Lets Go Ducks!

Ducks vs San Jose Pregame

As a gameday exclusive for the Duck's game against the San Jose Sharks, I have radio broadcaster and former NHL Stanley Cup champion, Brent Severyn, with some Keys to the Game.

Mr Severyn, what will it the take for the Ducks to win?
"Continue to frustrate the Sharks with good defensive posture. The Sharks have averaged 1.9 goals a game since February 23rd. The powerplay for the Sharks have struggled as well, going 0-8 against the Kings last game. One of the reason for the Shark's inadequacies in scoring has been the play of Joe Thorton, who failed to record a point for the second straight game. It will be interesting to see who matches up with Thorton now that Sammy Pahlsson has been moved to Chicago."

Thanks Brent!

Also worthy of mention is Travis Moen's first return to the Honda Center as a Shark, after the March 4th trade. He's been playing on the third line with Marcel Goc and Johnathan Cheechoo. He has also seen time at the first line with Joe Thorton.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ducks Succumb to the Wild

The Ducks took another loss tonight to previously 11th place Minnesota, struggling through a tough defense by the Wild. Jonas Hiller, who faced 25 shots tonight, made a few fantastic saves, but not enough as the Ducks fell to the Wild, 3-2.

The Wild's enforcer, Stephane Veilleux, scored in the first 1:09 of the game, which set the Ducks to play catch-up for the rest of the game. He would score again in the end of the second period, on a breakaway that left him with Hiller as his only defense.

The Ducks scored their first goal in the beginning minutes of the second period, on a shorthanded goal, as Todd Marchant stole the puck from the defense behind the Minnesota goal, and wrapped it around the right post before the Wild's netminder, Niklas Backstrom, could scramble back into position from the behind the left post. He sprawled across the goal line, but Marchant was quick and stuffed the puck past him for the first Duck goal of the game. Veilleux would break the tied score with his second goal at 16:38, off a breakaway from the center after James Wisniewski dropped the puck.

The Wild scored again midway through the third to put them ahead by two, as Andrew Brunette snuck behind the defense in the slot and redirected the puck as it skated in front of the goal. Desperate to catch up, the Ducks pulled Hiller from the net in the last few minutes of the game, allowing Scott Niedermeyer to shove the puck into the Wild net as the Ducks crashed.

The Wild's Backstrom had 38 saves, but none as dramatic as Hiller's cat-like grab from mid-air in the second period that kept the Ducks in the game. Unfortunately, in his only start since February 4th against the Wild on the road, his 22 saves tonight weren't enough to keep the Ducks ahead. The Ducks have 68 points and are now in 11th place,with four teams in between them and a playoff spot.

It was a night of upsets around the NHL. 1st place Boston fell to the New York Rangers earlier today, with new Rangers player Sean Avery back on the ice. He had previously been playing in their AHL team, but was recently called up for the playoff run. Chicago was overtaken by last place team Colorado in the Western Conference, while in the Eastern Conference, 3rd place Washington lost to 8th place Pittsburg in a battle between Crosby and Ovechkin, two of hockey's giants. 13th place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference won over 3rd place Calgary in the Western Conference as well.

Still in first place in the Eastern Conference is Boston with a solid 95 points over second place New Jersey with 87 points and Washington who trails closely with 86 points. In the Western Conference, San Jose and Detroit are still tied for first with 94 points apiece, with Calgary following with 84 points and Chicago with 81 points.

The Ducks next play fourth place Vancouver on Wednesday at home, and its starting to get desperate or else I wont be covering Duck's games much longer for the 2008-2009 season.

Lets Go Ducks! (Please!!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

New Kids on the Ice

Tonight's match up against the Dallas Stars was the first home game for all of the new acquisitions, and while they seemingly outplayed Dallas on the stats sheet, it may take some more time to adjust. Their 3-2 loss tonight is hopefully a mediocre start to a phenomenal playoff run.

New sticks on the ice tonight were James Wisniewski from Chicago, Erik Christensen from Atlanta, and Petteri Nokelainen from the New York Rangers. Wisniewski earned a goal tonight, his first for the Ducks.

Even with the new faces, the Ducks still kept their old habits, earning 6 penalties tonight, the first by newcomer Erik Christensen in the first 29 seconds of the game. Dallas scored 1:15 later, taking the lead early. They scored again towards the end of the second period, off a wrist shot by Loui Eriksson, his first of two for the night.

Even with the loss, their offense was relentless, outshooting the Stars 2-1. Dallas goaltender Marty Turco saved 36 shots, while JS Giguere only had 13 saves. Giguere faced only 2 shots in the last period, one of which slipped by on Eriksson's second goal.

Goal scoring on the Duck's end included a goal by newcomer Wisniewski in the beginning of the third period, off a slapshot that finally stumped the impenetrable Turco. Bobby Ryan, now wearing hockey legend Paul Kariyan's old #9, scored a highlight reel goal 10 minutes later, whipping around the defense and sliding the puck under Turco as he falls to the ice.

From this loss, the Ducks hope to move forward with their new team, adjusting to new faces and sticks on the ice. They next take on the Minnesota Wild on Sunday at home. Their next few games determine their eligibility for a playoff spot, and while tonight's loss hurt that dream, it's not over yet. The Ducks are currently tied for 9th with Edmonton, with Dallas moving up to secure the #8 spot the Ducks desperately need to get into the playoffs. At the top of the conferences, Boston leads the Eastern Conference with 93 points, with New Jersey(87), Washington (85) and Philadelphia (78) following respectively. In the Western Conference, San Jose is tied for first with Detriot with 94 points, and Calgary (84) and Chicago (81) following.

Lets Go Ducks!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Road Trips and Trades

As the Ducks come off a 6 game road trip, the trade deadline is days away, forcing the Ducks to make some quick changes before they make the final run for the playoffs.

It breaks my heart to tell you that left winger Chris Kunitz is now in Pittsburg playing for the Penguins.

Also off the roster as of today are center Samuel Pahlsson, defensemen Kent Huskins and left wing Travis Moen. All of these players were important pieces of the championship team in 2007. Steve Montador, Eric O'Dell and Brendan Morrison were also traded to other teams.

Kent Huskins has spent a large amount of the season recovering from a foot injury, and Brendan Morrison has had a rough time coming back from a knee surgery.

In exchange, the Ducks recieved defenseman James Wisniewski and center Petri Kontiola from Chicago, center Erik Christensen from Atlanta, center Nick Bonino and goalie Timo Pielmeier from San Jose and center Petteri Nokelainen from Boston.

Their first game as Ducks will be on Friday when they take on the Dallas Stars at home. We welcome the newcomers and wish them the best of luck as they lead us to the playoffs (hopefully).

Lets Go Ducks!