Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Duck Stops Here

After an exciting game 7, the Ducks lost to a tough Detroit team, ending their 2008-2009 season.

And what a season it was. Although they're no longer in the running for the cup, they've got nothing to be ashamed of.

Bobby Ryan, ended up with a combined 36 goals in the regular and post season. His +20 rating is also a testement to his great season.

Ryan Getzlaf had 29 goals in 2008-2009, and a rating of +8.

Corey Perry posted 40 goals through the season, and had a +12 rating.

Veteran Teemu Selanne had 31 combined goals in his 78 games this season.

George Parros and His Mustache earned 144 minutes in the penalty box this season.

Jonas Hiller, the goaltender with feline reflexes, had an astounding 1612 shots blocked throughout the season.

JS Giguere had 1153 saves in his 2475 minutes of playing time.

It's been a fantastic season, and we're all looking forward to the 2009-2010 season.

I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to read this, your support is appreciated. Hopefully, I've fulfilled my purpose to your satisfaction, and you will continue to tune in as the Stanley Cup playoffs continues.

Lets Go Ducks... in 2010!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It was Do or Die

And the Ducks did. After losing their past two games against Detroit by a margin of three goals per game, and allowing a total of 10 goals to their 4, the Ducks showed that they belonged in this series, beating the Redwings 2-1 at the Honda Center tonight.

The win was unquestionably credited to a strong penalty kill unit, an agressive defense, and the cat-like skills of goaltender Jonas Hiller. After struggling through the past two games, the Ducks looked as though they might need a fresh face between the pipes. But Hiller defended his goalcrease (and his position as starting goaltender) with such skill that he reminded everyone why he still deserved that spot. He had a total of 38 blocked shots, only allowing one powerplay goal to the Redwings in the last 3 minutes of the game, after defending the previous 37 attemps.

After going scoreless in the first period, the Ducks opened up the scoring in the first three minutes of the second, on a powerplay for a Detroit delay of game penalty. As Detroit sought to clear the puck out of their zone, Niklas Kronwall flipped the puck out of play, giving the Ducks the opportunity they needed to get ahead. Ryan Getzlaf saw his chance as the puck glanced towards him off Detroit goaltender, Chris Osgood. Getzlaf stuffed the puck in the net to put the Ducks ahead by one.

Their second tally came in the last three minutes of the second period, on a even-strength goal by Corey Perry. As Getzlaf looked for his second of the night with a wrist shot from the blue line, Perry stationed himself in front of the crease to catch any rebound chances. As the puck flew by, Perry got his stick on it to deflect it in the net to put the Ducks ahead by 2-0.

The Ducks survived four penalties, including interference, cross chekcing, and two bench minors for too many men on the ice, but the tripping call on Andrew Ebbett gave the man advantage to Detroit that they capitalized on. Johan Franzen recieved a pass across the crease that he swatted in the net to beat Hiller. After 37 shots, the Redwings finally met success, but it wasn't enough to cover the triumph of the Ducks.

As towels rained down on the ice to celebrate the win, a brawl erupted in the corner of the rink, resulting in 9 separate penalties to 6 players. Whether that will affect the next game remains to be seen, but the fisticuffs was a long time coming after a physical game with few penalties called. Aside from the 9 called at the end of regulation, a total of ten penaties were called, and only six were physical penalties.

After this win, the Ducks have tied the series at 3 games apiece and will travel to Detroit, where they will play the final game of the series. If they win, they will have triumphed over the top two teams in the Western Conference in two consecutive series. Should they lose, and the 2008-2009 season will come to a close. As for Detroit, this will mark the first time they've had a seven game series since the Western Conference finals in 2002.

The Ducks will have to match the energy and defensive performance they had tonight in order to be successful on the road against a fast and physical team like Detroit. Here's hoping I get a few more games to write about before their season is over.

Lets Go Ducks

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ducks Down But Not Out

In their first loss at home since April 21 against San Jose, the Ducks fell to the Detroit Redwings in game four of the Conference Semi-finals with a final score of 6-3. The three goal difference was the largest margin they have lost by in this postseason.

The first six goals of the game were scored by three players. Corey Perry had the first, just 42 seconds into the first period. The game was tied up ten minutes later with a Detroit goal by Johan Franzen. Franzen scored again 8 minutes later to put the Redwings ahead by one at the end of the first period. Perry retaliated again halfway through the second to tie the score once more.

Detroit player Marian Hossa, who had a goal denied to him in the last contest, quickly put away two goals in three minutes to put the Redwings firmly ahead. His second goal came on a powerplay after Francois Beauchemin earned an interferrence on Detroit player Brett Lebda. The second period ended with a 4-2 score.

The Redwings weren't finished. Three minutes into the third stanza, Detroit player Mikael Samuelsson fired another shot past Hiller, prompting his removal in favor of Giguere. Hiller had 33 shots and five allowed goals in his 42 minutes of play. Tonight was Giguere's first appearance since April 11th, and during his 17 minutes of playing time, he had 6 saves and one goal allowed.

The Ducks were granted a powerplay after Detroit player Darren Helm was called for tripping. Scott Niedermeyer capitalized on this opportunity to score the Duck's third goal of the game. Detroit would score their final goal on an empty net as Giguere was pulled for an extra attacker in the last two minutes of the game, sealing the fate at a 6-3 loss for Anaheim.

Remarkably, penalties for the Ducks were low, but they were poorly timed. Two of the penalties they recieved were during powerplays, thus eliminating the man advantage they had. Each team had a five minute major for fighting after Beauchemin dropped gloves with Tomas Kopecky. Beauchemin landed 8 shots to Kopecky's face before they dragged eachother to the ice. Kopecky landed nothing but the penalty.

One of the critical keys of the game for the Ducks was successfully moving the puck up the ice against a fast Detroit team. In their morning skate, they drilled on passing patterns and moving the puck out of their zone in pressure situations. Detroit was prepared for these movements, as it became signature for the Ducks and were champion in shutting them down. Passes were interrupted and the Ducks had trouble moving the puck out of their zone, which became crippling to their offense.

With this win, Detroit has tied the series with two wins apiece. The Ducks will play the Redwings again in Game 5 in Detroit on Sunday at 2:00 local time. Make sure you buy your mother something nice so she wont be upset that you're spending Mother's Day listening to the game.

Elsewhere in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks are also deadlocked at two wins each, after Chicago's overtime win tonight. The winner of that series will advance to the finals to play the winner of the Ducks/Redwings series.

Hopefully, we can count on the Ducks to be the team in attendance.

Lets Go Ducks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Vamos Patos!

The Ducks have a one game lead in their series against the Detroit Redwings after tonight's win, largely due to the fantastic goalkeeping of Jonas Hiller.

Both teams were scoreless for the first half of the first period, when Teemu Selanne got a breakaway to backhand the puck in behind Detroit goalie, Chris Osgood to put the Ducks ahead by one. Scott Niedermeyer extended their lead midway through the second period on a powerplay goal.

Detroit's only tally came later in the second off a powerplay rebound shot by Henrik Zetterberg. Scott Niedermeyer had earned the penalty a minute earlier for hooking.

Both teams had plenty of powerplay opportunity, with 7 penalties awarded to the Ducks and 6 called on the Redwings. However, nothing was called on the elbow to James Wisnewski's face midway through the second. Tomas Holstrom committed the penalty immediately after Wisnewski took a puck to the chest. With the wind knocked out of him and blood spurting from his face, Wisnewski vomited and collapsed on the ice, requiring a stretcher to retrieve him and take him to UCI, where it was discovered he had a bruised lung. It is unknown whether or not he will return to the playoffs after such a devastating injury.

The loss of Wisnewski seemed to take a toll on the Ducks. Less than a minute later, Detroit player Mikael Samuelsson's rebound bounces to Zetterberg who scores, cutting the Duck's lead in half.

A one goal lead with over 30 minutes to play doesn't leave much room for mistakes. The Ducks lost control of the puck and for a few heart-stopping seconds it slid across the goal crease. One of the referees called the play dead, assuming the puck was under a sprawled-out Hiller. Marian Hossa and Chris Pronger simotaneously saw that it wasn't captured under Hiller and dove for it, sending the puck into the goal.

The players were left to skate around as the referees discussed the potentially premature whistle that stopped the play before the puck was shoved through. When the referees called for the game to continue without giving Detroit the goal, the Ducks heaved sighs of relief and rightly so.

Their last game had gone into triple overtime after a tying goal by Johan Franzen early in the second period. Both teams remained scoreless till Todd Marchant ended the game with a goal early in the third overtime (or the sixth period, depending on your perspective). Trivia: the longest hockey game ever had 6 overtime periods between Detroit and Montreal in 1936, total game time= 176 minutes.

After the non-goal, the Ducks struggled to keep control of their lead after Detroit pulled Osgood to give their offense an extra attacker. Hiller stopped 18 shots in the last period alone to keep the Ducks ahead for the win.

Hiller had a total of 45 saves tonight. He's stopped 138 out of 145 shots in this series and has a total of 368 saves out of 375 attempts in this postseason. Without question, he's been the deciding factor in many of these postseason games.

The Ducks next play Detroit in game four of the series on Thursday at the Honda Center at 7:30pm.

Vamos Patos! (In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I've translated the typical sign-off into spanish. I'm feeling festive.)