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POSTED ON Monday, 12.05.2011 / 1:18 PM


The first win of the Bruce Boudreau win will have to wait, as the Ducks endured two games over the weekend -- the first two of his watch -- that unfortunately had all too much in common.

In both, the Ducks looked strong-to-quite-strong in jumping out to early leads, only to see those leads vanish. Friday night vs. Philadelphia, there was an inspired vibe throughout Honda Center as the Ducks jumped out to a 3-0, only to watch the Flyers chip away at it and tie it late in the third. Philly ultimately crushed the Ducks with a game-winner in overtime from Claude Giroux, which came after a Ryan Getzlaf tripping call had a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct minor added to it. 

Last night was much of the same, as the Ducks went in front 2-0, only to have the Wild score on a power play goal late in the first, then score two in a span of 32 seconds to go ahead.

“It looked like when they got the second goal, ‘Oh, they tied us. We’re not going to be successful,’ ” said Boudreau last night. “Now, when they got the third goal, it’s, ‘Oh, woe is us.’ So, you know, we've got to get that mindset out of them right away and be able to say, ‘Dammit, let’s go get it back.’ ”

Boudreau called timeout after the two quick goals, and was asked later what he told his new team. “I said, ‘Don’t hang your head. You look like you’re a beaten crew.’ If you can’t face a little adversity in sport or in hockey, you’re not going to get anywhere. I mean, pull up your socks and get mad rather than feeling sorry for yourselves.”

To Anaheim's credit, they did just that, tying it up when a Cam Fowler shot banked in off defenseman Marco Scandella's boot in the middle of the third. But the Ducks were bitten by another goal off a skate, this time Wild forward Nick Johnson's with 5 1/2 minutes left. Anaheim had a chance to tie it late when a power play and a pulled Jonas Hiller created a 6-on-4, but Cal Clutterbuck's empty-netter with 10 seconds left provided the stomach punch. 

It's a cliche, and it's one the Ducks have used to describe themselves previously this season, but Boudreau once again stressed it last night. "We have to play 60 minutes," he said. "We played about, I'd say, 12 good minutes in the first period and the shots were about 7-2. And the next thing it was 17-9 for them."

And it led to another frustrating Ducks loss, one that leaves them with a 7-14-5 record and 14th in the Western Conference. With 56 games to go in the regular season, and 10 points behind the eighth spot in the West, the Ducks unquestionably have a considerable hill to climb. But as Boudreau said last night, "It's been done before."

Indeed it has ... by Bruce Boudreau. In 2007 he took over a Washington Capitals team that was 6-14-1 and 30th in the NHL. They went 37-17-7 the rest of the way and won the Southeast Division.

(If this is all making you think of Jim Mora's famous "Playoffs???" rant, it's interesting timing. Today is the 10-year anniversary of that classic sound byte.)

“I’ve already gone through the schedule,” Boudreau said. “I’ll show them how we can do it, if you put the basis on 97 points needed for the playoffs. I told them, ‘You just have to believe it.’ ”

Making them believe will be no small task, especially considering the lulls the Ducks have suffered in recent games that have ultimately cost them dearly. Today they were back at work at Honda Center, getting ready for a huge game with the rival Kings here tomorrow night. Boudreau, despite being new to the Ducks, seems to be well aware at how intense that rivalry is, partly from his time as coach of the Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester from 2001 through 2005.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of hatred on both sides,” he said. ”When I was part of the Kings organization, they certainly didn’t like the Ducks. So now that I’m here, I certainly don’t like the Kings.”


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One positive of the weekend: The likeable Andrew Gordon got his first goal as a Duck on Friday night against the Flyers. Gordon's rebound punch-in that made it 3-0 at 6:31 of the second period was reviewed to see if it was kicked in, an agonizing few minutes considering cameras cut between the review and Gordon's elated face on the bench.

Thankfully, the goal counted, and Gordon's unbridled joy on the bench was apparent. Also, for those of you who care about such things, the reaction on Twitter to Gordon's goal led for him to trend worldwide, outranking "Happy Birthday Britney" and "Prom Night Dumpster Baby."

Interestingly enough, Gordon's first NHL goal came last December as a member of the Capitals ... under coach Bruce Boudreau. And it was on Martin Brodeur, no less.

Check out the awesome reaction to that goal by Gordon at the end of this video:

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POSTED ON Friday, 12.02.2011 / 1:43 PM

It's a tantalizing time here in Ducks land, as Game 1 of the Bruce Boudreau era starts tonight against the Flyers at Honda Center.

Since getting hired for the head coaching job Wednesday, Boudreau has had only one practice, one morning skate and individual meetings with his new players to make his early impressions on this team. It's enticing to see what kind of impact that will have in such a short time period, with Boudreau standing behind the Anaheim bench just two nights after the surprise announcement late Wednesday night that he would be the new Ducks coach. This morning he admitted what a whirlwind it's been for him the past two days, saying that when he left Honda Center last night at 6 p.m., "I went right to bed." He added, "But you get up at 3:00 in the morning, and then you start again."

Yeah ... wait a minute. Three in the morning?

Just listen to Boudreau talk about the possibilities and you can't help but feel pumped up about what's ahead for his Ducks. Yesterday, during a press conference following his first practice with the team, Boudreau spewed nothing but optimism, notably in discussing his decision to take the job not long after being let go in Washington.

"If I didn't believe that this was a team that had the possibilities and the makings of something special, I think I would have sat at home and waited," Boudreau said. "But I don't think opportunities like this come around every day, with the talent that we have here."

The Ducks go into tonight's game 14th in the West and 11 points short of a playoff spot, which Boudreau said is hardly indicative of how good they can (and will) be. "They've been a really good team. They've just sort of lost their way a little bit," he said. "I told them this morning that I believe in them. I think they're a really good team."

There was a lot to come out of yesterday's press conference, including the revelation from Bob Murray that trade talks involving Bobby Ryan have dissolved a bit. "I'm hoping everything settles down right now," he said. "I think it will." He told Ryan the same thing, leading Ryan to tell the media, "A lot of times players are left in the dark and it is tough. I appreciate Murph being honest with me and letting me know ahead of time, so I could focus on one thing and that's wins for the Ducks."

Ryan also had the line of the day in describing the team's first practice under Boudreau. "There's a little nervousness, what kind of impression you are going to make on your first day," he said. "It's almost like a first date. But I think it went well."

There was a lot said by a lot of people during the media sessions yesterday, but one thing that may have gone under the radar -- but stood out for me -- was Andrew Gordon's take on Boudreau's coaching style. Gordon, of course, played for Boudreau during his four years in the Capitals organization, so he was the go-to guy to remark on what his Ducks teammates can expect. The bottom line: Lots of offense.

"He wants us to play with the puck and he wants us to go up and down and be creative, support the puck and play offense," Gordon said. "We have a lot of guys with a lot of talent on this team and that is going to fit well. Once we grasp these systems, there a little tougher to get than the ones out there where you just back up and try not to make mistakes. He wants to push the pace a little bit, so once we grasp this, it’s going to be good and generate some offense for us.

"
He wants you to support the puck as opposed to pushing it down there and dumping it in. He’s going to allow someone like Bobby to make a move and beat a guy one-on-one. As long as we’re playing within the system, he wants to play offense. When he was a player, he scored beyond belief, so he knows what it’s like to be an offensive guy and want to play to your style. All the coaches are going to come together and let our big guns play offense. When you’re one of those guys expected to score, that’s a green light, and that’s good news."

Meanwhile, Boudreau's impact on the ice has already been felt, as he returned Ryan to the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Matt Beleskey has joined Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu in the second trio and will presumably be there to start tonight. Andrew Cogliano has centered the third line with Niklas Hagman and Devante Smith-Pelly.

It's a quirky coincidence that Boudreau is facing the Flyers in his first game with the Ducks. Four years ago in his debut with the Capitals, he also faced the Flyers. Boudreau pointed out that coincidence and a couple others during an intriguing interview this morning with Ducks radio analyst Dan Wood.

"There are so many similarities, I feel like I'm..." Boudreau said, then paused. "I watch a lot of movies, so I'm thinking of JFK and the similarities they point out with [his assassination and] Lincoln. [Washington was] 6-14-1 [when he took over], and I think we're 7-13-4 right now. We played Philadelphia our first game, we're playing Philadelphia tonight. The first game [Flyers coach] Peter Laviolette coached when he took over in Philadelphia was against me in Washington. The first game I'm coaching here is against Peter. It's weird."

Also in that interview, Boudreau pointed out the differences between starting with the Capitals and doing the same here in Anaheim. "It's more challenging," he said. "When I went to Washington I'd coached seven of the players from the year before. I knew the players. Here you're coming in pretty cold and pretty blind. You know the players and the reputation and those things, but you don't know them individually. So, it's going to take a little bit of time just to know them. I'm not using that as an excuse. I expect to win every game. But to know them the way you want to know them is going to take a long time."

I expect to win every game. You gotta like that motto.

"If you know me, my short-term is to win. My long-term it to win," Boudreau said. "I'm a very positive person, and I never think there is a hole too deep that you can't climb yourself out. I've already gotten everything written down on what we have to do to make the playoffs and beyond. Now it's up to me to make the players believe this is a feasible and possible situation to do."

I can report first-hand that Boudreau's optimism and the sensation of a fresh start has already instilled a positive vibe among the Ducks staff (including me, as you can tell by the 1,400 words I've dedicated to this). Meanwhile, someone from the Capitals staff sent over three of these Boudreau bobbleheads, now proudly displayed on a couple of desks here.

The entire Ducks and Honda Center staff was treated to a pizza luncheon this afternoon in which Boudreau made a quick cameo and speech. (While he spoke, a TV in the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club was coincidentally showing an NHL Network replay of last night's Washington loss to Pittsburgh.) Boudreau didn't speak to the staff long (out of character for a guy who has earned the nickname "Gabby"), but he did finish with this line: 

"We're gonna have some fun."

What would really be fun is a win tonight against a Flyers team that comes to Anaheim for the second straight year without former Duck Chris Pronger, who is out four weeks following knee surgery. The other former Duck, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, is supposed to play tonight despite battling a cold that kept him out of last Saturday's game with the Rangers.

"You watch them out there doing little drills and picking top corners and everything else. You want to see it in a game because it's easy to do it when there is nobody that really doesn't like you playing against you," Boudreau said this morning. "Tonight I'm sure there will be some guys who aren't as friendly. We're playing a tough team and I believe they will be ready."

But no matter the opponent, this is an exciting time for the Ducks, the first of 58 games they have to climb out of this hole. And to hear Boudreau tell it, they can make it happen. 

"This is a team that before the season started, if you read a lot of the clippings, should really contend for the West and Pacific crown and I think they're very capable of doing it," he said. "I want them to believe in themselves. That's the message for today, believing in themselves."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 10:04 AM

In what had to be the strangest night in Anaheim Ducks history, the elation of a long-awaited victory was quickly replaced by the enormity of a major coaching change. 

At 10:21 p.m. Pacific time last night -- almost exactly an hour after the Ducks snapped a seven-game losing streak with a triumphant 4-1 win over the visiting Canadiens -- the Ducks announced that head coach Randy Carlyle had been replaced by former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

Despite the fact the announcement came well past bedtime in most of the hockey world, it spread like wildfire through social media and sports tickers throughout North America. It was a seemingly unprecedented move in which an NHL head coach was let go and immediately replaced by another established coach -- not a former assistant filling an interim role.

In Boudreau, the Ducks get a coach who had established himself among the NHL's best the past five seasons, a man made famous to America during a colorful stint on last year's HBO special 24/7 Penguins Capitals: The Road To the NHL Winter Classic. Boudreau, as it's already well-known, was let go by the Capitals on Monday after a rough 10-day stretch that Anaheim can certainly relate to.

But before we look ahead to the Boudreau era, we should look back to what Randy Carlyle meant to the Anaheim Ducks organization. He was the franchise's winningest coach with a 273-182-61 record highlighted by the team's only Stanley Cup title in 2007. In his six-plus seasons at the helm, he led the Ducks to the playoffs in five of them. For all of that, Ducks fans will be forever grateful.

But as Bob Murray said, the Ducks were in a position where "we simply felt a new voice was needed." 

“This was an extremely difficult decision,” Murray said in a statement released by the Ducks. “Randy is a terrific head coach, and did a tremendous job for us for six-plus seasons. We thank him greatly for his hard work and dedication to our franchise, not the least of which was a Stanley Cup championship. At this time, we simply felt a new voice was needed. Bruce is a proven winner with a great track record, and we are optimistic we can turn this season around under his leadership.”

The impact that a mid-season coaching change can have in the NHL is well-documented. In 2009, Dan Bylsma was hired in February to take over a Pittsburgh Penguins team that was a middling 27-25-5. Four months later they won the Stanley Cup. The year before, Joel Quenneville took over the Blackhawks just four games into a highly anticipated season in which they started 1-2-1. They made it to the conference finals that season, and two years later they were lifting the Cup.

Boudreau himself already has his own mid-season success story. He was hired as Caps head coach on November 22, 2007, after the team had started 6-14-1 and were 30th in the NHL standings. He went 37-17-7 the rest of the season, and led the Capitals to the first of four straight Southeast Division titles.

Boudreau won the 2007-08 Jack Adams award (NHL Coach of the Year), led Washington to the 2009-10 Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top club in the regular season and became the fastest coach in modern day NHL history to win 200 games.

Not long after the firing by the Caps, the Ducks asked Washington permission to contact Boudreau, who would have soon been highly coveted by other NHL teams looking to make their own changes at the helm. Soon after being let go by the Caps, Boudreau told the Washington Times he was ready to coach again immediately. "Absolutely. It's what I do," he said. "I love hockey and I love my job. Even when things are going bad, I love my job. I love going to work in the morning, and I feel comfortable when I'm behind my desk or behind the bench or talking to guys or being on the ice. It's something that I would relish doing."

That Ducks granted that wish, and in a hurry. Boudreau's last game coached with Washington was last Saturday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the six-day span between games coached with two teams is the fastest in NHL history. (Meanwhile, all I keep thinking is, if you had told me a year ago that the colorful guy on the HBO 24/7 series would be the Ducks' coach in less than a year, I'd have asked for some of whatever you were drinking.)

Boudreau will be meeting a lot of Ducks for the first time today, but he does have connections to a couple of them already. He coached Andrew Gordon during the winger's four years in the Washington organization, and he coached George Parros when they were both with the AHL's Manchester Monarchs.

Boudreau brings with him former Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim's AHL affiliate) assistant coach Brad Lauer and at least one other assistant to be named, as Carlyle's termination also brought the dismissals of Assistant Coaches Dave Farrish, Mike Foligno and Video Coordinator Joe Trotta. Boudreau and his staff take over a Ducks team that, despite that gratifying victory last night, wakes up this morning with a 7-13-4 record, 14th in the Western Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot.

But the dawn of December represents a fresh start for the Ducks in so many ways. It's a new (and crucial) month in the NHL calendar, a new coaching staff and -- with all due respect to the admirable cause that is Movember -- the welcomed disappearance of the mustaches and Jonas Hiller's goalie mask that represented a horrific month in which the Ducks won just twice.

Boudreau and Murray will both be part of a press conference later today following Boudreau's first Ducks practice at The Rinks - Anaheim ICE. We'll have complete coverage this afternoon. 

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 10:30 PM

The elation of a long-awaited win tonight has been replaced by the gravity of the news that the Ducks have hired former Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to replace Randy Carlyle as head coach. We'll have much more tomorrow.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 4:12 PM

Not much to say going into this Ducks-Les Habitants game tonight at Honda Center other than:

- Ducks badly need a win
- Nobody got traded

Let's go, Ducks.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 5:39 PM

Two days after looking as down in the dumps as he seemingly ever has, Teemu Selanne was more optimistic in his talk with reporters after a second straight day of practice at Honda Center.

Believe, that is the word,” said Selanne today. “You just have to look forward. You can’t do anything about the past. There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves because nobody else does.

"We are going to turn this around.”

The Ducks, looking to snap a seven-game skid, put in two good days of training on their home ice. Meanwhile, as is often the case when a team gets into a losing trend -- more so than ever in this current Twitter world -- rumors have been circulating about potential Ducks moves. Obviously, nothing rumor-wise will be addressed here, but Randy Carlyle did broach the subject today.

“Being a former player, I was traded a few times and the rumors were rampant when I was playing that there were going to do this or that, this trade was gonna happen and this guys was gonna get fired.” said Carlyle with a grin. (He played with the Leafs, Penguins and Jets in his 18-year career.) “If you believe every rumor that is put out, then I guess you believe them. You recognize that those types of situations develop when you don’t have success. That is part of the business. If you understand that, then you move on, you control what you can control and you go forward.”

Go forward they will, to a date tomorrow night with their third straight Original Six opponent, the Montreal Canadiens. The Ducks, mired in a funk that has stretched to almost six weeks, could badly use that one elusive victory to break this exasperating string. But Carlyle says it's about much more than just one win.

“Winning alleviates and makes everybody feel a little bit better,” he said. “One win is not going to be enough. We don’t look at it as one win and it’s all over. We have a mountain to climb here. It doesn’t start until you build a foundation. What we’re trying to do is build a foundation that our hockey club is going to play to a higher level than it has and more consistent. That's what we're asking.”
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POSTED ON Monday, 11.28.2011 / 10:58 AM

He's the most famous and most beloved figure in the history of the organization, the owner of pretty much every major team record, the first person who comes to mind when you think of the Anaheim Ducks. He's the face of the franchise, a face that so often reflects what the team and its fans are feeling -- in the good times and the bad times

Last night, after a disheartening 5-2 loss at home to the Maple Leafs, was one of the bad times, and you could see it in the eyes of a dejected Selanne in the Ducks locker room.

Approached by a gaggle of reporters in front of a wall next to his locker, Selane was asked by Eric Stephens of the OC Register if the Ducks have begun to gain acceptance of their losing stretch. Selanne paused, looked into the distance, gathered his thoughts and took a deep breath. "I hope not," he said, his face drained of emotion and still decorated with a mustache that has grown throughout this frustrating month of November. "A lot of talking, a lot of meetings ... there is no answer. It seems to me that nothing works. You try and stay positive and find some bright sides, but ... it's just unbelievable right now. I know everybody hates this situation."

He paused again. "Enough talking. Out there, you know, there are the answers," he said, pointing to the ice. "The last couple of games we've scored the first goal, come out with a lot of energy and them boom."

That boom hit the Ducks in a 19-second span last night, when they got on the board first on a Francois Beauchemin first period goal, then gave up two to Toronto in a flash later in the period and never recovered. Friday afternoon against Chicago, Anaheim took a 4-2 lead into the third period and gave up four unanswered in losing 6-5.

"The only thing you can do is, everybody just has to do their own job and believe and trust that the guy next to you can do the same thing. We need everybody right now."

Everybody (aside from Dan Ellis, who is still nursing that groin injury) was on the ice this morning for practice at Honda Center, in which the line combinations were shaken up a bit. Matt Beleskey skated on the right wing of the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, while Bobby Ryan was moved to the third unit with Niklas Hagman and Ben Maxwell.

We'll have  more later today.

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On a personal note, thanks go out to Ducks team dentist Dr. Rick Morimoto and his assistant Alice, for coming in on a Sunday and fixing my chipped tooth yesterday (not going to elaborate on how it got chipped). Awesome guy, awesome dentist, awesome staff. 
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 10:53 AM

Yeah, Smith's tall.
A bumpy Ducks road trip gave way to a frustrating stay in Southern California, so the Ducks can only hope they bounce back after stepping off the plane once again.

Anaheim's only trip outside of SoCal in a 30-day stretch that started earlier this month is a quick flight to Phoenix and a bus ride to Glendale, where the Ducks will try and turn things around against the Coyotes tonight.

"As nice as it is to be at home and be around family and things like that, it's a nice reprieve when you get to go on the road and get a little rest and some time with your teammates," Bobby Ryan said. "That's an important part of the process throughout a season. Guys will get together and talk about things, and hopefully it's a starting point for us tonight."

The Coyotes, as they've done so often the past few seasons, have risen above expectations in their first season without Ilya Bryzgalov since 2007. Former Star, former Lightning (bolt?) and current boring name guy Mike Smith has filled in nicely, with a 9-3-3 record, 2.16 goals-against average and a gaudy .936 save percentage. The 6-foot-4 Smith is a major reason the Yotes are hanging around the eighth spot with a 10-6-3 record despite a loss two nights ago in Washington.

The Ducks have seen Smith already this season, scoring four goals against him in a disappointing 5-4 loss at Honda Center back on October 23. That defeat was the second straight in a weekend stay at home, and two days later the Ducks began that fateful seven-game, 13-day road trip that made it easy to forget about their hot 4-1-0 start to the season.

Now the Ducks are 6-10-4 at the (mixed metaphor alert) quarter-pole of the NHL marathon and looking to right the ship immediately. And if you think your favorite team is making you lose sleep, imagine being their coach. Randy Carlyle broached that subject after practice yesterday, just before he and his troops headed up to LAX for the quick flight to the desert.

"There’s a buzzer that goes off in my brain somewhere around 3 in the morning and it’s always about what’s going on at work and what’s going on with the hockey club," he told reporters in his familiar spot in the Honda Center hallway. "Then there’s a toss and turn for sometimes two hours, sometimes it’s three hours and sometimes it’s one hour.

"And then you want to sleep till 10 because you’re tired and you’ve just gotten back to sleep at 5. Those are the things that happen. Part of the stress and the pressure that comes with not having the success you feel you’re capable of."

More than sleep habits, Carlyle also talked about his hopes for relatively new Duck Ben Maxwell, the former Winnipeg Jet waiver wire pickup who should be getting some time on the third line tonight. Maxwell centered that unit a bit in the third period Sunday night against Detroit and in yesterday's practice he skated there with other new Duck Niklas Hagman and young Duck Devante Smith-Pelly.

“I thought he displayed in a couple of instances, his hockey sense and his ability with the puck,” Carlyle said. “We think that we’ll give him a look in the middle right now with Hagman and Smith-Pelly. We’ve experimented and tried other people there and I don’t think we were really comfortable with that."

Maxwell has limited NHL experience -- 36 NHL games in four seasons with Montreal and the Thrashers/Jets -- but he put up good numbers with Hamilton of the AHL (142 points in 177 games).

“I played in the NHL parts of the last three or four seasons,” the 23-year-old Maxwell said. “I just never really stuck around. I think now, I’m not taking it for granted. I don’t have infinite chances. I have to take advantage of one of these. I’m hoping to do that here.”

Despite playing them (and the rest of the Pacific) six times a season, the Ducks have not been to Glendale since last January 15. 

Tonight's game is at 6 p.m. Pacific time on Prime Ticket, a nice way to start a holiday weekend that includes the Ducks' traditional day-after-Thanksgiving matinee with the Blackhawks on Friday at Honda Center.


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Meanwhile, in case you need a good hockey-related chuckle right about now, this one actually made me laugh out loud:

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.22.2011 / 1:02 PM

George Parros was recently interviewed in ESPN the Magazine about his mustache and the progress of his teammates during Movember. Here's that piece:

Q: When we think George Parros, we think wild goatee. How did it feel to shave it all off and try a new look?
For one, I instantly looked 10 years younger, and some people didn’t recognize me. But I have an affinity for NHLers from the 1970s and ‘80s who grew fantastic mustaches. I think I was meant to have a mustache.

Q: Any surprising benefits to your mustache?
It adds character and a swagger you might not have without it. It’s funny because I’m even seeing my teammates who are sprouting ‘staches in a different light now.

Q: What does your wife think about your ‘stache?
She tolerates it. She prefers me to have a sparse one.

Q: How are your teammates doing in the Ron Swanson department?
Andrew Cogliano and Luca Sbisa are off to good starts, as is Sheldon Brookbank, who grew the team’s best mustache last year. Corey Perry is pathetic at growing a mustache, but at least he tries.

Q: What does this year’s winner receive?
Last year, I gave an incredible secondhand leather jacket that complemented any mustache. This year, it’s going to be a surprise. Ask me again on Dec. 1.
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POSTED ON Monday, 11.21.2011 / 10:35 AM

The details of Thursday night vs. the Kings and last night vs. the Red Wings were eerily similar -- and that's not a good thing.

Both were bitter rivalry games in which the Ducks tied to try it on a late 6-on-4, only to be stomach-punched by a clinching empty net goal. It happened in that 5-3 defeat to the Kings and history repeated itself last night in a 4-2 loss to the Red Wings.

The Ducks were put in an early hole when they gave up early-in-period goals to some familiar faces. It was Henrik Zetterberg 1:26 into the first and Johan Franzen just 14 seconds into the second. A few minutes after Franzen's tally, Brad Stuart piled on with a goal from the right circle to make it 3-0, leading Ryan Getzlaf to say, "I thought we came out of the gates okay. We still dug a hole. There is no doubt about that. The score doesn’t lie. At some point during the game, we let ourselves get down and get behind."

But to the Ducks' credit, they didn't hang their heads, getting one back on an odd-man rush one-timer from Saku Koivu and then a power play goal by Teemu Selanne set up by a nifty backhand pass through the crease by Corey Perry.

That drew Anaheim within a goal, which is where it stood when they were handed two power play opportunities late in the game. They didn't get the goal they needed off Justin Abdelkater's boarding call with 5:46 left, but they had another chance when Jonathan Ericsson was whistled for hooking with 2:34 on the clock.

As was the case when they desperately tried to tied the score against the Kings, Randy Carlyle pulled his goalie (Dan Ellis Thursday; Jonas Hiller last night) to create a 6-on-4. And for the second straight game, a giveaway on that power play did the Ducks in. The Ducks let the puck slip away into the slot, where Stuart picked it up and artfully banked it off the wall and into the middle of the abandoned net from 120 feet away. (Watching that puck slowly roll along the ice toward that net with no one in front of it was a little like watching a car crash transpire with no way of stopping it. Too dramatic? I don't think so.)

The 4-2 final on the scoreboard didn't reflect how close the Ducks came to tying that game. It didn't reflect the close calls, like Bobby Ryan's rebound try 13 minutes into the second, where Jimmy Howard dove across the crease to knock the puck away with his glove, Ryan raising his arms in the air thinking he'd gotten his long-awaited goal. Replays showed the puck got ever-so-close to crossing the stripe in the air, but not definitively enough to reverse the call on the ice. There was another near-miss with less than a minute to go in the second, when an apparent  Devante Smith-Pelly goal was deflected away by the handle (the handle) of Howard's stick. Seconds later, Ryan roofed in a loose puck, only to have the whistle blow as soon as he touched it because of a Smith-Pelly cross checking penalty.

When you're winning, those are the kinds of things that go your way. When you're struggling, they all too often go against you. And that's what the Ducks are dealing with right now.

"It’s tough. It’s a new experience for us here," said Getzlaf of the Ducks' continued struggles. "We have to find a way to dig ourselves out of this thing."

They were given a day off today, and their next chance comes on the road, Wednesday night in Phoenix.

"We are in a situation where we have to play ourselves out of it and that includes me," Getzlaf continued. "I just have to keep playing and we have to lead by example. Our group here, who I have been with for a little while, we have a great core of leaders and we just have to keep pushing."

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SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 31 56 28 87
C. Perry 81 43 39 32 82
N. Bonino 77 22 27 14 49
M. Perreault 69 18 25 13 43
A. Cogliano 82 21 21 13 42
C. Fowler 70 6 30 15 36
K. Palmieri 71 14 17 9 31
D. Winnik 76 6 24 6 30
H. Lindholm 78 6 24 29 30
S. Koivu 65 11 18 3 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 20 5 0 .923 2.29
J. Hiller 29 13 7 .911 2.48

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