Gordon a Bright Spot in Preseason So Far
Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 9:31 AM PT
It was sometime last in the third period last night -- when the San Jose Sharks were in the middle of a six-goal run on their way to a 6-1 victory at Honda Center -- when I reached for the Ducks Training Camp media guide. Looking for some solace during a game that came less than 24 hours after a 7-4 loss in the opener, I flipped to the pages containing the Ducks' preseason records over the years. And here's what I found:
- In 2006, the Ducks lost 5 of their 8 games in the preseason and nine months later were holding the Stanley Cup over their heads.
- In 2008, Anaheim went an impressive 6-1-1 in the preseason, and ended up 3-5-2 in October. (Of course, they ended up making the conference semifinals that spring.)
- Last season, the Ducks went 3-5-0 in September and finished fourth in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
- Also last season, the Boston Bruins lost four of their seven preseason games, while the Vancouver Canucks dropped five of eight. They played each other in the Stanley Cup Final, with Boston winning it all.
The lesson in all this? The preseason means something, but it only means so much. Mostly it's a chance for players to get their game legs going, for coaches to evaluate the hand they've been dealt and maybe try some different combinations. And for players on the fence of making the opening night roster, it's a chance to prove what they can do.
One such guy is 25-year-old Andrew Gordon, a speedy, diminutive winger (listed at 6-0) who can put the puck in the net -- and showed a bit of that last night. Gordon provided a spark for the Ducks on a night when sparks were at a minimum, scoring a goal late in the first period to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead that would prove to be short-lived. After a Matt Smaby shot from the high left wing deflected off a San Jose skate, it rolled to Gordon, who was able to scoop it past drawn-out goalie Thomas Greiss.
Despite that goal, Gordon was understandably critical of the team's performance. "We went about 15 minutes without a shot on net. We were having trouble breaking out of our zone right from the get-go. We have a lot of speed on this team and we weren't really using it because we were stuck in our own end so much. Scoring the first goal doesn't always mean that you're off to a good start. We have to have a better effort off the puck drop. That is one thing we have to take from this.
"We didn't sustain a whole lot. This time of the year is about work ethic. We have to work a little bit harder and prepare as if it's not an exhibition game
Randy Carlyle acknowledged Gordon's impact on the game by saying, "He was a player who showed the determination and fire that he's demonstrated right from the start of camp to impress some people."
And that's big for a guy looking to earn a spot with the big club, something Gordon had trouble doing in four years with the forward-heavy Washington Capitals organization. He played just 12 games with the Caps, instead spending most of his time with the AHL Hershey Bears, where he became immensely popular as the team won two Calder Cup championships. Part of the reason for Gordon's appeal there was his production, scoring 102 goals and 224 points in 267 career games -- including a 37-goal season in 2009-10 and a 28-goal campaign last year. Part of it was for his friendly, enthusiastic and bright demeanor, which has helped garner him 10,789 Twitter followers (with an ever-growing number of those being curious Ducks fans).
Last night after the game, Gordon tweeted, Thanks everyone for all the positivity! Not the way I wanted my 1st game in a #NHLDucks uniform to turn out, but the sun will be up tmrw.
I was able to catch up with Gordon after a mostly off-ice practice today at Honda Center to talk a little bit about that goal, his time in Hershey and his presence on Twitter. Click here for that conversation.