|Adam Brady is the Director of Publications & New Media for the Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center. You can email him by CLICKING HERE.
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By Adam Brady
Updated Nov. 30 at 5:14 p.m.
Talk about "be careful what you wish for." I got several submissions for the Ducks movie ideas, and putting them all together took some time. But I actually enjoyed many of them, as you can see in the comments I've made (in bold and italics). Some were great ideas and others were the worst casting ideas since Adam Sandler in the remake of The Longest Yard.
I've decided to put them in a separate page, so as not to take up too much room in the blessed blog. It must be pointed out that the opinions expressed by the people who submitted their ideas do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Adam Brady or the Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club. Just wanted to make that clear.
Here they are
Updated Nov. 30 at 11:09 a.m.
There is a lot to get to today, so I want to start early. First of all, I'm just thankful I made it into the office alive this morning. For some reason, whenever it rains in SoCal, drivers just can't seem to handle it. People, you can't drive 75 on the freeway when it's raining, especially when it's the first rain in months. I saw two major accidents on the way here, one of which appears to be this one.
Anyway, tremendous win for the Ducks last night. I know Calgary isn't exactly the class of the conference, and they've been struggling lately, but a road win's a road win for the Ducks these days. And you have to love the way they did it last night. Coming off a Vancouver game in which they played some of their worst hockey over the final two periods, the Ducks gave up a quick one to Alex Tanquay in this one. But they responded in a big way, in a building that holds more than 19,000 and is never easy to win in. The Ducks goal less than three minutes after Tanquay's opened the floodgates, including a Corey Perry goal that didn't quite look like it crossed the stripe all the way, but they ruled it a goal anyway. And it was all capped off by a pretty goal by Rob Empty Nettermeyer.
Todd Bertuzzi had two assists in the game, and looked very good playing with Todd Marchant (who scored that first Ducks goal) and Andy McDonald. Here was a nice quote from Bert: "I'm not going to lie to you, it was actually fun. We tend to stress on not putting the puck in the net and I think it builds up and builds up. I think it's a matter of going out and having fun again and I think we had a little bit of that tonight."
I was lucky to be able to watch the game, since I was talked into frequenting a bar on the peninsula in Newport last night. And this particular place was a perfect example of why we shouldn't be too quick to suddenly declare Orange County a "hockey town" after winning the Cup. Granted, last night's Cowboys-Packers game was a huge one, and I can't blame the bar for giving it major exposure. Heck, I wanted to watch that game too. But there were about 25 TVs in this place, and not one of them had the Ducks game on. I think two of them had the college game on. It took one of our female staffers to talk to one of the bar employees (probably a guy), and they thankfully put it on one of the TVs above us. I hope they didn't have that same problem at the Ducks Watch Party at Dave & Buster's.
Tonight the Ducks face another road test a couple hundred miles up the road against an Edmonton team that's not very good right now (last in the Western Conference), but still present a challenge. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing Chris Pronger might be booed tonight. Or maybe the fans will be too busy booing the Oilers. Two nights ago they fell 4-2 in Colorado, getting off just nine shots over the first two periods. Here was the headline in the Edmonton Journal the following morning:
Shot-challenged Oilers buried
MacTavish’s lacklustre crew fails to hit, skate, shoot—hit Avalanche net just nine times over first two periods
I had a couple of requests to share the Ilya Bryzgalov tribute video that the Ducks ran during the Coyotes game on the 23rd, which is right here. Unfortunately it doesn't include the best part, Bryz's reaction. But still kind of cool.
If you haven't seen already, the NHL Board of Governors approved a change to the schedule that will ensure that the Ducks play every Eastern Conference team, starting next year. This year and in the past two before it, there was one division in the Eastern Conference every year that the Ducks didn't play the entire season. Now they will play the other Pacific teams six times a year instead of eight. I like the move, but I think they should have taken it even further. I'd like to see a home-and-home against every Eastern Conference team, like the NBA does it. We'll put a poll on the home page soon to get your opinion of it.
Have you seen this website that allows you to put a face on a dancing elf? I think they started doing is last year. Anyway, a Ducks message board poster named Jrgom created two of them with Ducks players. There is this one and this one. Thank you to reader Katherine for alerting me on that one.
I'm trying to compile all of your ideas for the Ducks movie, and I'll be posting that soon enough.
Updated Nov. 29 at 1:46 p.m.
Here's hoping the Ducks can bounce back tonight against Calgary, which will be no small task after getting shut out in Vancouver on Tuesday. The Ducks haven't won in Calgary in the regular season since Feburary 4, 2003, but they certainly have won there in the playoffs. The Game 7 victory in that arena in 2006, a 3-0 shutout by a goalie named Ilya Bryzgalov was a memorable one, and could be pointed to as a major turn in the Ducks' road to the '07 Stanley Cup.
Right now, Anaheim is in need of another turning point, so let's hope they can pick it up tonight. I really don't have much more to say about the game than that.
If you're interested in watching the game with other Ducks fans, plus some of our Street Teamers, there will be a watch party at the Dave and Buster's at the Irvine Spectrum tonight. You can get in some Pop-a-Shot during the intermissions.
By the way, speaking of Bryz, I know I said I wouldn't mention him again, but there is a story on NHL.com about him. Here's my favorite quote, where he talks about the presentation the Ducks did for him during the game against the Coyotes: "That was a great moment in the game and I was near crying because I didn't expect it. Seventeen thousand people stood up and cheered! But, it's still a game and we're all professionals. It's important to win the game. I play for the Coyotes now and we have to win. I have no friends during games. We need the points, no sharing!"
You may have noticed that the Top Story panel on the home page has changed a bit. It has the ability for us to embed video into the photo window, like game highlights. You can see an example of it on story No. 3 right now. We'll have more of that in the future.
I've had some pretty decent response from people regarding ideas for the Ducks movie. Some pretty funny ones too. I just got one that said Mathieu Schneider could be played by Leonard Nimoy or by Hugo Weaving from Lord of the Rings and The Matrix. One woman said Matthew Perry could play me. I'll take that as a compliment ... I think. I'll wait a few days before posting some of the best responses, and in case you want to submit something, here is the link again.
Speaking of movies, I went and saw No Country for Old Men with my father last night, which was very violent, but very good. It had sort of a strange, abrupt ending to it, but I still enjoyd it a lot. Sounds like some of the relationships I've had.
Anyway, I say I enjoyed the movie despite the fact an elderly man sitting about eight rows behind us had a major case of throat phlegm, and it was driving me up a wall. He kept doing this sort of soft, phlegmy cough that accomplished nothing, then every 20 minutes or so he'd do a really hard, loud cough that didn't do much except make me wish I was wearing a surgical mask. I wanted to turn around and say, "Dude, spit it up already!"
This is why I sometimes hate going to the movies. Maybe there should be movie theatre police who are there to swiftly eject people from the theatres if they have violated the rules. You have a major case of throat phlegm? You have a two-year-old who won't stop crying? Your cell phone keeps ringing, treating the whole theatre to your stupid Black Eyed Peas ringtone? You laughed during an inappropriate point in the movie? I'm sorry, we're going to have to ask you to leave. I think that would be better for everyone.
Updated Nov. 28 at 5:33 p.m.
My girlfriend has mentioned on a couple of occasions that she thinks Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle looks like Gene Hackman. I can kind of see it, but judge for yourself:
Anyway, last time she mentioned it, it got me thinking. If Gene Hackman were to star as Randy Carlyle in a movie about the 2007 Anaheim Ducks, who else would be in it? Clive Owen as Scott Niedermayer? Leo DiCaprio as Sammy Pahlsson? David Letterman as Chris Pronger? What would it be called?
I want to know what you think. Click here to send me your ideas and I'll post the best ones in a few days.
Updated Nov. 28 at 12:26 p.m.
Well, that was interesting.
The Ducks team that went into the dressing room last night after firing 15 shots at Roberto Luongo in the first period used the 17-minute break to give their uniforms to a group of Ducks players who looked a lot like them, but definitely didn't play the same. The Ducks, who took no penalties in that first period, were whistled for sixteen in the second and third, leading to 10 straight Canucks powers plays, including five separate 5-on-3s.
As usual, Randy Carlyle put it succinctly: “You can’t play only 20 minutes of hockey in the NHL. We took undisciplined penalties, and basically took ourselves out of the game.”
Now, among those penalties were a few -- let's just say, questionable -- calls, which seemed to frustrate the Ducks even more. Said Ryan Getzlaf, "We need to control that in a different way and try to channel that into playing a little more aggressive and working a little harder rather than yelling and screaming at [the officials]."
So, Todd Bertuzzi's return to Vancouver wasn't a memorable one on the ice. But Chris Pronger showed he's the ultimate team player by taking the attention away from Bertuzzi in the second period, hitting Ryan Kesler in the ribs right after Kesler scored to make it 2-0. That ensured that the Vanvouver fans joined a growing NHL trend of booing Pronger every time he touched the puck. Good times.
Roberto Luongo looked like the guy who shut the Ducks down for most of last year's playoffs, not the guy who gave up that deciding goal in overtime in Game 5. But while Luongo frustrated the Ducks again last night, at least he did provide them with some positives. Following the game, Luongo told the Vancouver Province newspaper: "I hear Nieds is definitely coming back. "I wouldn't be surprised if Selanne does, either."
Well, at least he thinks so.
Mark Mowers wa placed on waivers by the Ducks yesterday, and there is no word yet on whether he was claimed or not. If he isn't, the Ducks will likely send him to Portland. Here's hoping the best for Mowers no matter what happens. In the short time he's been here, he's seemed like a good guy. Interestingly enough, if he got sent to Portland, at least he'd be closer to the Boston home that he and his wife purchased not long before he was traded by the Bruins to the Ducks in September.
Moving on, the Sports Business Journal just ran the results of a reader poll they did on the NHL, and some of the results are interesting. Sidney Crosby was picked as the league's "most marketable player" by an overwhelming margin, earning 74.9% of the 886 responses. And guess who finished first in the category of "team with the most creative/innovative marketing efforts"? That's right, the Anaheim Ducks. I'm sure the fact that the Ducks let some dork on their staff write a daily blog on their website contributed to that victory.
There's more. The top pick for "best NHL arena" was Madison Square Garden with 9.9 percent of the vote. Honda Center was picked fifth, just barely behind -- yeah, that's right -- Joe Louis Arena. That's like placing fifth in a beauty pageant, but the fourth-place finisher is Whoopi Goldberg. Strangely enough, in the category of "NHL team most in need of a new arena," the Red Wings finished third, behind the Islanders and Penguins, and the Rangers finished fifth.
So, the people responding to these surveys are basically saying, "Hey, we love your arena. Now get a new one."
Updated Nov. 27 at 2:26 p.m.
In case you didn't notice, tonight is Todd Bertuzzi's first game in Vancouver since they traded him in the summer of '06. We have some coverage of that, along with his press conference today, right here. There surprisingly was nothing too controversial in the press conference, so maybe the Vancouver press is already resigned to the fact that big Bert is not going to discuss the incident. The one thing I did take from it is Bert's grey Ducks hoodie. I've got to get one of those.
When I think of Vancouver, I can't help but think of that moment in overtime of the clinching Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals last year, a scene that immediately became a part of Ducks legend. Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who had been shutting down the Ducks for much of the game and the series, turned his head for a brief second to dispute a no call on Rob Niedermayer's vicious hit on Jannik Hansen. That gave Scott Niedermayer enough time to fling the puck to the net, which slipped by a distracted Luongo, who fell to the ice both exasperated and dumfounded.
Scott Niedermayer, it should be noted, will not be playing in tonight's game. Not sure if you knew that. And Hansen? In the minors.
By the way, as good as Luongo was against the Ducks in the playoffs, Anaheim was the one Western Conference team he didn't beat in the regular season last year. Luongo was 0-3-0 with a 3.78 GAA and .857 save percentage against the Ducks.
That brings me to another memory I have of Vancouver. We spent a couple of nights there during the playoffs at a popular bar/night club called Roxy, where a fellow staff member demonstrated that flashing your NHL ID card means you don't have to wait in line to get in. I felt like Henry Hill during that scene at Copa in Goodfellas, where they walk in through the kitchen, a scene that was copied in Swingers.
Later that night (and I know I've told this story before), out of the blue, the bar's house band played a version of "Lola" by the Kinks, but instead of the normal chorus, the guy sang, "Luongo, ... lo-lo-lo-Luongo." Now, I know we've won the Stanley Cup and all, and that Orange County is becoming more of a hockey hotbed every day. But we have a long way to go before you step into a bar in Newport Beach and the band is performing a tribute to J.S. Giguere.
Anyway, should be a good one tonight, and I imagine the Vancouver crowd will be slightly into it.
Moving on, NHL.com has a feature on the duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, a story that has certainly been covered before. But it's still a nice story, despite the fact it discusses the hole on the line left by the departure of Dustin Penner and that, "It appears Chris Kunitz had laid claim to that role." Uh, no.
Updated Nov. 26 at 2:19 p.m.
About an hour ago, I saw on the internet that the lead singer of Quiet Riot was just found dead at 52. And because of that, for the last hour, I can't get "Cum on Feel the Noize" out of my head. I'm not happy.
Good luck getting it out of your head now.
Updated Nov. 26 at 1:49 p.m.
We have a new Ducks Poll up on the home page. Here are the results of the last one, in which we asked which of the Ducks you thought was most likely to start in the All-Star game:
Chris Pronger: 42.13%
Ryan Getzlaf: 33.67%
J.S. Giguere: 13.86%
Andy McDonald: 6.40%
Francois Beauchemin: 3.95%
By the way, Drew Miller skated with the team today and Randy Carlyle gave every indication that he'll be ready to go tomorrow night. Miller sat out last night with a strained left knee, suffered during Friday nights' game with Phoenix.
Todd Bertuzzi spoke to the media briefly after practice about tomorrow night's game, his first in Vancouver since being traded by the Canucks following the 2005-06 season. We'll have more on that tomorrow.
By the way, the Western Conference standings have hardly been stranger than they are right now. The Ducks are one of six (that's right, six) teams with 26 points right now. The Ducks are currently the eighth-place team in the conference, but it's funny to think that had they gotten the win in regulation against Phoenix on Friday instead of losing in a shootout, they'd be fourth. (Vancouver is in third, also with 26 points, but as the leader of the Northwest Division, they are the No. 3 team in the conference.)
Updated Nov. 26 at 11:32 a.m.
You can take plenty of positives from last night's heart-stopping 3-2 win over the Kings last night. First of all, the Ducks came back from a 2-0 deficit after a first period in which they looked less-than-stellar. Secondly, Ryan Getzlaf was his usual self, scoring two goals while skating on a line with Corey Perry and newcomer Brian Sutherby that looked very strong.
It's still early for Sutherby, but I thought he looked solid last night, both with his skating ability and his presence around the net. I'm hoping for good things from him. Is it a coincidence that he's filling the elusive third spot on the line formerly known as the "PPG line" and wearing No. 17? By the way, we'll have a mini-Q&A with Sutherby posted on the site soon.
Another high point was the way the Ducks held off the Kings during that gut-wrenching final minute in which L.A. had a 6-on-3 thanks to two Ducks penalties and a pulled goalie. The negative is the fact the Ducks took those late penalties in the first place, which has been an epidemic for them as of late.
Speaking of late penalties, the boarding minor George Parros took late in the first ended up costing Anaheim, as they gave up a late power play goal in that period. But Parros made up for it last night by skating very well and getting loose for a couple of shots that could have gone either way.
The Ducks are practicing at Honda Center as I write this, then they head out this afternoon for the airport to catch a flight to Vancouver. The game with the Canucks tomorrow night is the first of a three-game Canadian swing that includes Calgary on Thursday and Edmonton on Friday. Canadian swing, by the way, is my favorite type of music.
Ilya Bryzgalov was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week after posting a 3-0-0 record, 1.62 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in his first three games with the Coyotes. One of those victories was in a shootout against ... well, you already know that one.
ESPN.com has an interesting story about a possible movement by NHL GMs to make changes to the collective-bargaining agreement that would allow teams to trade players while "eating" a portion of the traded player's salary. The proposal is supposedly being spearheaded by Brian Burke.
Updated Nov. 24 at 1:35 p.m.
God forbid I should do any work on the blog on a Saturday, but I came to practice this afternoon to talk to a couple of players and figured I'd post something, since it's been a few days.
First of all, rough loss for the Ducks last night. Anytime you have the lead with a little over a minute left in the third and end up losing, it's a tough one to take. The slashing minor Chris Pronger took with 1:47 left was a necessary one, as Shane Doan had gotten behind the defense and was right on the doorstep with a good chance to score. It's just unfortunate the Ducks couldn't find a way to kill that penalty.
And moving past that, you had to figure the Ducks' run in shootouts had to end sometime. It's just a little surprising it came against Ilya Bryzgalov, who had been 0-5 in shootouts for the Ducks, giving up seven goals on 16 shots. But he certainly looked sharp in the shootout this time, especially on Ryan Getzlaf's attempt, as Bryz sprawled out and pad-saved a shot that Getzlaf didn't get high enough.
It's a hard defeat for Ducks fans to take, but it's one of the few times they can be slightly happy for the opposing goaltender. As cool as the Ilya video montage was during the first period -- not to mention the crowd reaction and his thank-you waves -- I almost felt guilty about it. What a great way to get a goalie off his game, huh? It's probably not a coincidence that just a couple of minutes later, he accidentally let through a goal that definitely wasn't his fault, as Nick Boynton couldn't control the puck right in front of Bryz.
Here was a nice quote from Bryz about the presentation: "When they showed they were thankful on the Jumbotron, I was crying a little bit because it was an unforgettable time in
Then later: “I want to say thank you to everybody, the fans, my former teammates, the whole organization. I really appreciate that the fans, they didn’t boo.”
There was little chance of that, Bryz.
By the way, do you think we can do a montage of Jason LaBarbera's or J.S. Aubin's greatest saves (whomever the Kings start tomorrow night) and then follow it with a standing ovation? Maybe sometime in the middle of the second or third period? I think we've got a new tradition to start here.
Speaking of goalies, whether you watched the game on TV or were at Honda Center last night, you probably noticed Jonas Hiller's cool-looking mask, complete with bright Orange stripes and a gleaming metallic gold cage. We got some pictures of it today after practice, which you can see here.
One last thing. Sammy Pahlsson's first child, a daugher born to him and wife Johanna last Monday, is named Selma. She was 6 pounds, five ounces.
Alright, I need to get out of here and resume doing nothing.
Updated Nov. 21 at 1:14 p.m.
They're letting us out of here early since it's the day before Thanksgiving, but before I leave, I just wanted to let everyone know they can hear my interview with Ducks radio analyst Brent Severyn on the latest edition of Duck Cast, as he checks in from Dallas. Make sure you check out the photo of him and his sweet mullet in the Top Stories on the home page, taken during his one season in Dallas.
I can't for the life of me figure out why I sound like I have a major speech impediment on the interview, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Happy Thanksgiving to everybody.
Updated Nov. 21 at 12:10 p.m.
Here are the latest results for the All-Star game voting. Ryan Getzlaf is ninth among forwards, Andy McDonald is 21st, Chris Pronger is third among defenseman, Francois Beauchemin is fifth and J.S. Giguere is fifth among goalies.
Get to voting, people!
Updated Nov. 21 at 11:03 a.m.
Tonight should be a good test for the Ducks against a Dallas team that has won two in a row and has owned the Ducks as of late. The Stars are the only team to beat Anaheim in regulation this month, a 5-0 drubbing at Honda Center on Nov. 5. Dallas is 5-0-1 in their last six against the Ducks.
It will be interesting to see who's in goal for Dallas tonight, as they have had Mike Smith in there for those two wins, in which he saved 39 of 40 shots. Normal No. 1 Marty Turco has lost his last three starts, including giving up five goals to Phoenix and those five goals in 5:07 to lose that monumental comeback against the Kings. Remember that Smith shut out the Ducks 1-0 last year.
I promise this will be the last mention of Ilya Bryzgalov, but there is an interview with Bryz on the Coyotes website in which two things stand out. One is that he reveals that he had recently ordered a new mask that inexplicably had horses painted on it. He also ends the piece by telling the interviewer, "I'll try to not disappoint you guys."
Updated Nov. 20 at 5:15 p.m.
Former Duck Todd Fedoruk just cleared waivers with the Dallas Stars and has been sent to minor league Iowa. It's interesting, and almost sad, to think what has happened with Fedoruk in the past year. He's a good guy who was a great personality when he was with Anaheim. Then he injured his jaw in a fight with Minnesota's Derek Boogaard in late October, and about two weeks later the Ducks traded him to Philadelphia for a fourth-round draft pick. The Ducks had every intention to try and re-sign him after the season, but he expressed an interest to return to the East Coast.
In the past 12 months he's seen his replacement, George Parros, become a fan mega-favorite in Anaheim, then he watches his former Ducks teammates win a Stanley Cup. Now, he's not even with Philadelphia anymore. Instead, he's in Dallas, which has just sent him down.
Here's hoping for good things for the guy known as "Fridge."
Updated Nov. 20 at 11:51 a.m.
I couldn't be happier about the signing of Ryan Getzlaf, especially since it came on the heels of a couple of hockey rumor websites (not citing any legitimate sources, of course) claiming the Ducks were looking to deal Getzy to Toronto. I guess a five-year contract puts all those rumors to rest. We don't list the financial terms of the deal, per club policy, but let's just say you can figure it out if you really want to. Let's also just say that the dollar figure might have been a bit lower had a certain team not signed a certain former Ducks big forward during the offseason. That signing drove up the prices around the league, which is why you can remember Brian Burke being a little ticked off about the whole thing.
That being said, having Getzlaf here for the long haul is certainly (Chris Pronger's favorite word) a good thing. He's clearly one of the most talented young forwards in the game, a guy who gets the ultimate compliment of making other players around him better. That includes Corey Perry, currently leading the Ducks in goals with 11. It used to include a certain big forward who signed with a certain other team and has just three goals in 20 games this year after scoring 29 alongside Getzlaf last year.
Not only does Getzlaf have talent, but he has the kind of personality and charm that makes him a perfect candidate to be one of the primary faces of the Ducks in the future.
By the way, speaking of keeping good guys around for the future, what in God's name were the Angels thinking in trading Orlando Cabrera? I just can't see the purpose of dealing a Gold Glove shortstop who had a career year, scored more than 100 runs, has some pop and appears to be a good clubhouse guy, for a pitcher who was 10-13 last year. Very odd.
Okay, back the the Ducks, who left town earlier this afternoon for the airport, where they fly to Dallas for tomorrow night's game. The Ducks skated this morning and were joined by Mathieu Schneider and, yes, Todd Bertuzzi. We'll have more on that, and some other stuff, in a story that will be posted on the site later this afternoon.
Updated Nov. 19 at 3:12 p.m.
One of our Power Players, after seeing my link to that Bryzgalov interview in Edmonton, sent me this link to another outstanding piece of video involving Ilya, from last year. Fast forward to the 1:01 mark to see Ilya describe the design of his goalie mask, which includes this gem: "Darkwing Duck. He's a hero. That's what I am too." and this: "I don't know what this is. I not order this. It's just Duck."
God bless him.
Updated Nov. 19 at 2:39 p.m.
NHL.com has a long feature on my favorite Ducks player, Sammy Pahlsson.
Updated Nov. 19 at 12:32 p.m.
I know it's been a few days since the Bryzgalov situation went down, but I didn't had a chance to write anything during my time in Vegas. By the way, I saw Chris Rock perform at Caeser's Palace on Saturday night and decided it was the best standup act I've ever seen in my life. He's truly remarkable. But the highlight of my night was turning into dorky superfan when I saw a shaggy-bearded Adrian Grenier (better known as Vincent Chase from Entourage) wandering around Caesar's and grabbed him to pose for a picture with me. Then I sent it to the cell phones of my friends and sister with no explanation attached.
Moving on, it seemed inevitable that Ilya Bryzgalov would get picked up on waivers, and it's too bad it was by a Phoenix team that we have to see five more times this year. But it's a good situation for him, and I'm happy for him. We're certainly going to miss his, let's say unique, personality. I'll never forget the role he got on during the '06 playoffs when he had constant media attention and never seemed to know what to make of it. Or the time he was standing for the national anthem and the camera man skated by him during the song and he looked right into the camera and flashed that goofy wide grin. Or the time he bowed when he was named No. 1 Star after a shutout against Colorado. And then there is this priceless piece of video, as Bryzgalov comments on the reception Chris Pronger was receiving in his first trip back to Edmonton since being traded to the Ducks. "It's hockey. It's only a game. Why do you haff to be mad? ... He may be trying to leave here because in the November months it's minus-32 Could you imagine? ... Here, it's like the North Pole."
He'll certainly be missed. And it was pretty cool to see him earn a shutout for the Coyotes (against the Kings, no less) hours after joining the team. Apparently, Bryz got the call from Phoenix at just after 9 a.m. and was told to get to Staples Center to start the 1 p.m. game. I love the fact that Bryz was still wearing leg pads, a glove and blocker that were still in Ducks colors. After I heard that, I wrote an email to Thomas LaRocca, the guy who does the Kings website, that said, "Man, you guys are having a lot of trouble beating goalies in Ducks gear lately, aren't you?" I don't think he liked that.
As satisfying as it was to see Bryz succeed that afternoon, it was a little more enjoyable to watch the Ducks pick up a big win on the road at San Jose. Like that Kings game at Honda Center last week, it again would have been nice for the Ducks to hold off the Sharks in regulation, but another shootout win made up for it. Corey Perry again came through, like he did in that Kings game. Did you know that prior to that game, he was 1 for 10 in his career in shootouts? And, J.S. Giguere looked rock solid in net again, as he appears to be rounding into mid-season (or playoff) form.
The Ducks had the day off today, and practice tomorrow morning at Anaheim Ice before heading to Dallas for a Wednesday night game. The next game at Honda Center is a rare 1 p.m. start (the day after some big holiday) against Phoenix. I wonder who they'll start in goal. I also wonder if he'll smile at the camera during the anthem. After all, "It's only a game. Why do you haff to be mad?"
Updated Nov. 16 at 10:20 a.m.
I'm on my way out the door to Vegas for the weekend, but I couldn't leave town without posting a least something, considering what the Ducks have done in the last 12 hours or so.
First thing's first, tremendous win for the Ducks last night. Don't let the record or the recent history fool you. This is a very talented Kings team, and I could easily see them putting it together as this year progresses. I really do. But the biggest thing last night was the way the Ducks bounced back after what could best be described as a lackluster first period. They only got off four shots in the period, as the puck spent the majority of the 20 minutes in the Ducks zone. Anaheim was lucky to get away with just a 1-0 deficit.
That was one of those first periods where you tell yourself, "This might not be our night." But you know what good teams do? They make you forget about bad periods. This is something the Ducks did repeatedly last year. They came back hard in the second with two Corey Perry goals and a third by Ryan Getzlaf to start the third period. All three goals involved either two or three of that line that includes Chris Kunitz, a trio that looked outstanding all night.
But while the impact of that line has rarely been a problem this season, the Ducks got contributions from others this time. Brad May, Samuel Pahlsson and finally Rob "Empty Netermeyer" gave the Ducks insurance goals that were much-neeeded against a Kings team that probably feels like it can come back from any deficit right now.
Moving on to the big news of the morning, Ilya Bryzgalov being put on waivers. It's a surprise move, for sure, but Brian Burke has admitted that his efforts to trade Ilya haven't panned out. Here are some quotes from Burke:
"What I promised Bryz is that I would find him a place to play. Bryz is a great kid and a loyal soldier. He's won three playoff rounds for us and he deserves to play somewhere. But I was unable to move him.
"The single, biggest obstacle was that he's unrestricted at the end of the year. I wasn't offered anything of value for him. But I promised him, `If I can't get something of value for you, we'll put you on waivers.'
"In my mind, he's earned this. When a player gives you everything he has and he's a quality person, he deserves a chance to play. And if you can't manufacture that chance, then this is the way you have to do it."
Bryzgalov found out about being put on waivers after the game last night, and said goodbye to Ducks teammates in the Staples Center dressing room before they headed out to San Jose.
We'll see what happens in the next 24 hours.
Updated Nov. 15 at 6:49 p.m.
We're here at Staples Center, which has to have the best press meal in all of the National Hockey League. Then again, I haven't been in every NHL city. That's a question for Ducks radio announcer Steve Carroll, who takes food as seriously as anything in his life.
Anywyay, we're sitting in the press box on the top level of what's a virtually empty Staples Center right now. Nothing but purple as far as the eye can see.
I'm currently listening to an organ version of All of My Love by Led Zeppelin while watching a silent video board presentation that is punctuated every few seconds with the words, "WE PLAY FOR L.A."
Really? That's nice. We played for the Cup.
Updated Nov. 15 at 11:57 a.m.
Okay, I think we've officially hit rock bottom in the pursuit of policital correctness.
Updated Nov. 15 at 10:58 a.m.
The Ducks headed out on the bus for L.A. at around 9 this morning. They'll have a skate up at Staples, relax for a few hours and then take on the Kings for the second time in as many nights.
For the six of you who read our live game log on the website, I will be heading up to Staples tonight to do that as well as the game recap. I'm sure you're all excited to hear that. There's nothing more fun than driving from Orange County to L.A. in the late afternoon, but I'm doing it for you, the fans. Because I love you and I care about you. Also, it's kind of my job.
Still, let's hope I only have to hear a limited amount of that annoying "DING-DONG-DING-DONG" synthesizer sound they play when the Ducks commit a penalty, let alone another irritating clip of Randy Newman's I Love L.A. when the Kings score a goal. Yet another reason to root for a shutout.
We're all probably tired of the the subject of the Ducks' "Cup hangover," but Helene Elliott covers it well as a preview to tonight's game in the L.A. Times this morning. Here's a quote from Brian Burke:
“I’ve talked to the other teams that have won in the last couple of years, Carolina and Tampa Bay, and I asked, ‘How do you avoid the hangover?’ Their answer was, ‘You don’t.’“
Let's hope the Ducks don't follow in those teams' footsteps completely.
I gave a talk last night to about 30-40 Cal State Fullerton students in the university's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. I just wanted to thank all of them for pretending to listen intently and laughing at all my jokes. I had a good time.
Updated Nov. 14 at 5:05 p.m.
There is one thing we neglected to recognize now that Chris Pronger's suspension has been rescinded. It not only means the Ducks won't lose their captain for a game, it also means that Randy Carlyle just saved a little money. Along with the one-game suspension a player receives for an instrigating minor in the last five minutes, his head coach also gets fined $10,000. So, congrats, Randy.
Updated Nov. 14 at 4:29 p.m.
By the way, if anyone didn't get a chance to see the Rinkside View last night on FSN West and wants to see what it's like, here's a chance to see some highlights on it. The NHL typically takes its web highlights from the visiting team's television feed, and since FSN West is normally the Kings' channel, the highlights came from that feed, which was airing the Rinkside View.
The best is the Ryan Getzlaf goal at 15:14 into the first period, where you can hear the "tink" as it hits the net. I also like how you can see Jason LaBarbera throw his hands in the air when his stick gets knocked away from him, and seconds later he gives up the Huskins goal (14:51 into the second).
Updated Nov. 14 at 11:08 a.m.
According to TSN, Chris Pronger is not being suspended.
Updated Nov. 14 at 10:32 a.m.
There are both positives and negatives to take from last night's 4-3 shootout win over the Kings. Obviously, the positive is the Ducks picked up a dramatic victory over their rivals. They also suddenly look like rulers of the shootout, as J.S. Giguere and the Ducks scorers look very comfortable after two years of struggling in the tiebreaker. They were 7-19 since the 2005-06 season before peeling off three straight wins.
Of course, the negative is the Ducks letting the Kings crawl back into it in the first place and force overtime, meaning the Ducks only picked up one point on a division rival when two points seemed like it was locked up. You can't say enough about what a comeback like the one the Kings had Saturday night against Dallas can do for a team's confidence. They start to feel like no lead is too great, and their energy level picks up accordingly to try and wipe it out. That's seemingly what happened last night.
Back to the positives. Not only did Corey Perry get back on the ice after he had to be helped off in the first period (to the reported delight of Kings fans in attendance), he was one of the two Ducks to find the net in the shootout. That was extremely satisfying, especially compared to the fear Ducks fans must have felt when they saw yet another forward (and the team's leading goal scorer, no less) go down. We'll see how that knee (which Randy Carlyle called "hyperextended") affects him in the coming days.
Now, on to the possible Chris Pronger suspension (sounds familiar, doesn't it?). In case you missed it, Pronger went after the Kings' Michal Handzus after Handzus felt the ghost of Daniel Alfredsson inside him and shot the puck at Giguere after the horn to end regulation. By NHL rule, Pronger is to receive a one-game suspension for getting an instigator minor in the last five minutes, though he said last night he didn't start it.
"He shot the puck after the whistle," Pronger said. "I went into him. He tried to come back at me. I threw him into the boards. He started swinging, so I reciprocated, and that was the end result."
The league has been reviewing to see if Pronger did indeed instigate the fight, and word on the street is they will rescind the suspension. We'll see.
In case you didn't notice it, the Name the Rivalry contest has been decided and the winning name is Freeway Faceoff. My personal favorite (and the one mentioned by Randy Youngman in the Register today) was Freezeway Series, but it didn't win. In fact, it didn't even finish second. That surprised me.
When I got home last night, I happened to catch on TiVo a bit of the "rinkside view" telecast on FSN West that was aired in addition to the regular telecast on FSN Prime Ticket. I thought it was pretty cool. Certainly you wouldn't want to watch a game solely that way, but as an additional option, I liked it. I hope they do it again.
By the way, if you haven't caught it yet, check out Ducks TV to see Kent French attempt to repel from the rafters like Wild Wing. If you turn up the volume enough, you can hear him squealing a bit.
Updated Nov. 13 at 4:21 p.m.
Not to distract you from Ducks-Kings, but this word just came in:
Maxim Kondratiev has refused assignment to the Portland Pirates (AHL) and has therefore been suspended from the AHL club. Kondratiev has returned to
Updated Nov. 13 at 2:58 p.m.
Looks like that come-from-ahead defeat to the Kings on Saturday night has been a lot more costly to the Stars than just losing a point in the standings. Dallas has just fired GM Doug Armstrong. The Stars are 7-7 and have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs each of the last three years (to which Kings fans say, "That doesn't sound so bad to me.")
I love the way the Dallas website reports it, saying the Stars "relieve Armstrong of his duties." I like that expression. It sounds like you're doing the person a favor. It's kind of like, "We're going to have to let you go."
Updated Nov. 13 at 11:55 a.m.
I don't know if there is much more to say about tonight's Ducks-Kings game, except that it should be a good one after both teams are riding a little bit higher after comeback victories. Of course, the Kings' comeback was a little more impressive. Then again, it was more impressive than any comeback this year.
Matthew Kredell of the L.A. Daily news reminds us that the name of the rivalry will be revealed tonight. He calls the four finalists --
Ice-5 Series, Freeway Face-Off, Freezeway Series and Crosstown Showdown -- "uninspiring choices." I think you fans should be offended by that.
He also points out that despite the five playoff appearances by the Ducks in their 13 years and the four appearances by the Kings, the two have never been in the postseason at the same time. I've always found that pretty interesting.
Moving on, is it just me or are Christmas lights going up much, much earlier than they ever have? I've already seen a couple of houses with lights up already and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I think there should be a law or at least a local ordinance against this sort of thing. Something like, if you put up Christmas lights prior to December 1, you get a $200 fine.
Next thing you know, people will have lights going up in August. I can understand why the shopping malls do it, since they're trying to sell product, though I still don't think it's right. It's just too early, people. Stop it.
Updated Nov. 12 at 5:43 p.m.
We've thrown a new Ducks Poll on the home page, asking you how many of the five Ducks on the ballot for the All-Star game you think will get voted in. Remember, voting begins online tomorrow.
Here are the results for the last poll, asking which Pacific Division team you were most excited to see this month at Honda Center. I figured the Kings would win in a landslide and I was very wrong:
Updated Nov. 12 at 3:57 p.m.
After the weekend has run its course, it seems like it's been forever since the Ducks' 3-2 shootout win Friday night over San Jose. But it's still a memorable one for the Ducks, their second straight shootout victory (and you have been able to say that too often over the years). It was great to see Andy McDonald break out with a huge goal in the third, in addition to the game-winner in the shootout. And it all came in front of his former (and hopefully future) linemate Teemu Selanne, who attended the game with a friend, and could be seen enthusiastically high-fiving after the victory.
More significantly, the Ducks came back from a 2-1 deficit going into the third, and it marked the first time in 10 tries they came back and won after being down through two periods.
Now the Ducks have the Kings tomorrow night, a team that pulled off the most improbable of comebacks on Saturday night against Dallas at Staples Center. In case you missed it, you missed a doozy. The Kings were down 4-0 with less than nine minutes remaining, then scored five goals in just 5:07 on Marty Turco to take a 5-4 lead. Dallas ended up tying the score near the end of regulation with Marty Turco pulled from net, but the Kings won it in overtime on a goal by Anze Kopitar.
I happened to catch the replay on FSN, already knowing the outcome, and even that was remarkable. I loved this quote by Turco afterwards: “I think the whole third period was brutal. People keep talking about a lesson, I just think it’s embarrassing.”
The telecast of the Ducks-Kings game Tuesday night will be simulcast on both FSN Prime Ticket and FSN West. FSN Prime Ticket will show the regular telecast of the game while FSN West will provide alternate angles and features. Should be interesting. Might be a good time to move the bedroom TV out into the living room. Also during the telecast, they will be revealing the name of the winning entry in the Name the Rivalry content between Freezeway Series, Freeway Faceoff, Ice-5 Series and Crosstown Showdown.
I'll give you a hint. The winning entry has vowels in it.
Speaking of the Kings, one of their former nuisances, Sean Avery, is causing his share of troubles on the other coast. Apparently, Avery got into it during warmups before his Rangers played the Leafs in Toronto on Saturday night. He shoved Leafs forward Jason Blake, then exchanged pleasantries with forward Darcy Tucker, whom he fought during the actual game.
Here's a quote from Toronto defenseman Wade Belak, who said that Avery is "P---ing guys off" with his antics:
"He'll bring harm to himself and not too many guys around the league are going to be sad to see it. If he keeps this up, someone is going to kill him. One day he's going to say something the wrong way and he'll be clubbed."
I'm sure he didn't mean "kill" in the literal sense. Then again...
Updated Nov. 9 at 2:58 p.m.
The team formerly known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays has announced that they have changed their colors and are now just going to be known as the Rays. Yeah, like changing your colors and name ever works.
Updated Nov. 9 at 11:17 a.m.
It's almost getting exhausting writing about this (okay, forget almost) but there is more to the Scotty Niedermayer secret skating saga. Dan Wood in the Orange County Register reports that Scotty is taking part in pickup games at Westminster Ice Arena (so much for the undisclosed location). Regardless, he's still not any closer to announcing his intentions: "Really, there is no change in anything right now, other than the fact I'm skating. When the decision does come, if it is to go back and play, I'm a little bit closer."
And then there's this: "I have a time in my head. I'm not really going to share that with anybody. Is it the middle of December? Maybe, maybe not. Could be sooner. Could be later."
If anything, Scotty is providing good material for guys whose girlfriends ask them when they're going to propose.
By the way, about these pickup games, I'm curious to see how they work. Is it just Scotty and your normal everyday recreational players? They're trying to get a game going and someone says, "Hey, do you guys mind if one of the greatest defensemen the game has ever known joins us?" Or Scotty skates up and sheepishly tries to join a game and they say, "Sorry, guy, we've already got enough"? I need to know these things.
Focusing on more imminent matters, the Ducks have San Jose tonight, a team that, like the Ducks, was picked for big things this season and also hasn't gotten it going. The Sharkies are 7-7-1 and are tied with Anaheim for second in the Pacific with 15 points. And also like Anaheim, the Sharks have a speedy forward that hasn't quite gotten on track stats-wise this season. Jonathan Cheechoo only has three goals and six points thus far. But the guy who once had three hat tricks against the Ducks in one season could be thinking, Heck, if Peter Mueller can do it, I certainly can.
I feel good about the Ducks' chances tonight against what still is a very talented San Jose team. Despite the differences between this year and last, I think this Ducks team has a tendency that last year's did -- to play better against better opponents. There may be home losses to Phoenix (twice) and Edmonton on Anaheim's record, but there is also a convincing 6-3 win over a currently 12-2-1 Detroit team (without Mathieu Schneider) and three other wins against teams currently in the top eight (and thus playoff position) in their conference.
On an unrelated note, a co-worker walked by my office today and asked me if I had been "following the O.J. trial." I thought I had fallen asleep and woken up in 1995. Then a Hootie and the Blowfish song came on the radio, a girl with a "Rachel" haircut walked by holding a Beanie Baby while wearing overalls and a fannie pack, and someone down the hall greeted a co-worker by mimicking the Budweiser "Wassssup" commercial.
Updated Nov. 8 at 3:38 p.m.
Didn't this woman already die several years ago? I remember her passing away in her sleep on that boat the night she threw the big necklace in the ocean. Did I imagine that?
Updated Nov. 8 at 12:10 p.m.
What can you really say about that one last night? On paper, a 6-5 loss at home to Phoenix doesn't look too good. On the optimistic side, it's a Phoenix team that for some reason is playing well on the road, as last night was their fifth straight road win against just one victory at home. And the Ducks are finding solace in the fact that they came back from a 4-2 deficit late in the second to send it to overtime.
On the down side, that's the type of accomplishment that -- if the roles were reversed -- a team like Phoenix should be proud of, not the defending champs. Last year's Ducks team would find little comfort in earning a standings point in that situation, despite the two-goal comeback. But we're hearing things like: "The positive point is we got our power play going and we created some offense" or “The bottom line is we can’t beat ourselves up over this.”
That's true, but it's tough for Ducks fans to take when at this time last year, their team was rolling through the rest of the league and were disappointed to earn just one standings point. But in this continuing team transformation, these are the positives we have to lean on right now. Also on the bright side, Corey Perry continues to sparkle out there, scoring his fourth goal in the last five games last night. And the more I see of Mathieu Schneider, the more I like, and he's only played four games with this team so far.
Here's another slight positive. The L.A. Times is reporting that Scott Niedermayer, according to agent Kevin Epp, "has begun skating at an undisclosed Southland rink and could return to the Ducks as soon as mid-December if he decides to continue his playing career."
I love the "undisclosed Southland rink" concept. I have this image of Scotty zig-zagging around some dimly lit rink while a half dozen men in dark suits, sunglasses and earpieces patrol the outside of the building. Then when Scotty's done skating, they hustle him into a limousine and peel out of there.
Moving on, I'm flipping the channels in my office right now and on FSN they're showing a replay of last night's Clippers game (not that I have any interest in watching). Clippers play-by-play guy Ralph Lawler is doing the pregame show. This is the first time I've realized he still does their games. How old is Ralph anyway? I remember him doing games when I was just a child.
Was he doing games during the George Mikan era? Does he miss the days when basketballs had laces? Did he have a signature call when they had to climb a ladder to fish the ball out of the peach basket? Or maybe he's really like 42 years old, but decades of covering the usually crappy Clippers have made him appear in his 70s.
I changed it to ESPN2 and, big surprise, they're showing poker again. Do people really still watch poker on TV? I find that hard to believe. I neglected to mention this when we were in London, but I was flipping channels in my hotel room there one night and discovered two announcers doing play-by-play during a ... I kid you not ... online poker game. They were in a little window in the corner while the rest of the screen showed the table surrounded by the names of various online players. They'd say things like, "Oh, koolguy62 is going all in. This is a typical move on his part. Let's see if luvtheladies1988 will take the bait." I couldn't believe it. (Of course, this is coming from a guy who admitted yesterday that he can't get enough of "Real Housewives of Orange County")
Next thing you know, ESPN2 will have a weekly show where pimply-faced teenagers play Madden football online against each other in separate cities and talk trash over headsets. Wait a minute, that's not a bad idea. I should pitch that.
Um, gotta go.
Updated Nov. 7 at 12:21 p.m.
So, when I attended Dana Hills High School there was one team we always scheduled for homecoming...
Oh wait, that's already been done (see Oct. 25), and it didn't work out too well last time the Ducks played Phoenix needing a morale-boosting win. But the Ducks face the Coyotes tonight much healthier than the last time the two battled at Honda Center. And Anaheim comes into this one having just beaten their division rivals convincingly last Saturday night. The key again tonight won't be whether Anaheim can stop a Coyotes attack that doesn't score a lot of goals, but whether the Ducks can generate some themselves. The Ducks were shut out by the mighty Alex Auld last time they faced the Yotes in this building, which I believe was Auld's first shutout since he was seven years old. I can only assume Auld is going again tonight.
Despite the stick he took to the eye on Monday night, Todd Marchant will be in the lineup tonight. Although, with the ugly bruise around his eye coupled with the Halloween-inspired shaved head, there isn't a Duck who looks scarier right now. Also, Mathieu Schneider, who took a puck in seemingly the exact spot where he earlier had a broken bone in his ankle, also took part in the morning skate. But during that skate he took an inadvertant stick to the nose from Ryan Getzlaf and had to go for stitches. No word on how that will affect him for tonight.
In case you haven't already seen it, the OC Register's Randy Youngman has a column today about the fans booing Monday night during the loss to Dallas. I like the fact that Chris Pronger claimed not to hear it. After all the boos he's had directed at him in his career, it's like a dog owner not hearing his barking mutt, even though it's driving the neighbors nuts.
Speaking of neighbors, I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but I'm strangely drawn to "The Real Housewives or Orange County," which had its season premiere last night. For some reason I can't grasp, I thoroughly enjoy it, though it doesn't exactly paint the prettiest picture of Orange County. Come on, not all women over 40 in the Cota de Caza area have had plastic surgery, wear too much makeup and give their young daughters brand new Mercedes to earn their love.
Sometimes they give BMWs.
Updated Nov. 6 at 12:53 p.m.
In case you need a reminder that the Ducks did indeed win the Stanley Cup, here is an email from a reader named Karen:
If you think that pumpkin carved with the picture of a player holding the cup was good.... wait until you see this picture of our wedding cake!
My husband and I are BIG Ducks fans (we have season tickets) and last season when we were engaged, we told all our friends that if the Ducks won the Cup we would redesign our wedding cake to look like the Stanley Cup. (About half believed us and the other half figured we'd never do it!)
The night we won the cup we both looked at each other and laughed! We KNEW we HAD to do it!
So we went back to our bakery in Las Vegas, put down ANOTHER $500 and changed our cake. The folks at the bakery (Freed's Bakery.. very well known and very good, by the way) were happy and excited to accommodate our request. After an hour or so of drawing pictures and taking notes they had an idea of what they were going to do. They even suggested the hockey sticks and logo that were on the cake.
They hand made the cup on the top and air-brushed the entire cake silver. They also made the black board on the bottom so it would look just like the bottom of the Cup.
And by the way, it was the BEST Stanley Cup wedding cake I've ever tasted.
Updated Nov. 6 at 11:29 a.m.
On May 15, the Anaheim Ducks came into a game at Honda Center two nights after pulling off an impressive victory in Detroit in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. The Ducks had all the momentum in the world going into that Game 3 and proceeded to get stomped 5-0 by the Red Wings. That Ducks team bounced back from that loss to win 7 of its next 8 games and capture the Stanley Cup title.
Granted, this isn't quite the same team as that one, but the point is still valid. There's no question, last night was a bad game, but it was just one game. It was an off night on a Monday in early November against a talented team that put it together for a period. So, we just move on and look forward to Wednesday night against Phoenix.
Updated Nov. 5 at 12:35 p.m.
Just in case you were so excited about getting one veteran Ducks defenseman back from injury that you've forgotten about the other one, there is news on the Scott Niedermayer watch. TSN reported this weekend that Scott Niedermayer said he needs to impose a "personal deadline" regarding his retirement decision and that he will make a decision "well before Christmas."
This portion of the story appears to be a positive: "The veteran defenceman says he has been working out, staying in shape and is just starting to intensify his routine."
Brian Burke responded to that in an L.A. Times story that ran yesterday.
By the way, we have a new Ducks Poll up. Here are the results of the last one, which asked where you think the Ducks will finish in the Pacific. When the poll went up, the Ducks had just lost to Edmonton in a shootout, three nights after falling to Phoenix at home. Yet, Ducks fans were still optimistic, and that continued with the final results as of this morning, with the Ducks just a point out of first:
Updated Nov. 5 at 10:18 a.m.
It's not usual that the Ducks can find joy in going on the road and beating Phoenix, but these certainly are different times around here. But that 5-2 domination Saturday night was exactly what the Ducks needed and a great sign that this team is healthy and getting better every day. It's hard to believe it was the first road win for Anaheim (the win over the Kings in London was technically a home game), but it was, and so many good things came out of it.
Mathieu Schneider proved he's not just a goal-scorer in shootouts, which is the reputation he has earned in his career (okay, not at all) with his power play goal. Corey Perry's two goals are just a continuation of an outstanding season he's had so far. His length-of-the-ice goal into the empty net in the waning seconds was a thing of beauty. Meanwhile, the Perry-Ryan Getzlaf-Brad May line produced seven points last night, including May's tip-in off another Schneider shot from the point. The two Ducks power play goals felt like about a thousand Saturday night, considering their drought in that department the last several games.
I watched Saturday's Ducks game from Fox Sports Grill at the Irvine Spectrum, since the girlfriend and I had just gotten out of Dan in Real Life, the Steve Carrell movie that I really enjoyed, by the way. The Ducks game was on one of the smaller screens as the USC game finished up. But the Ducks still got little-screen status even during Rob Fukuzaki's postgame show, which was too bad. They finally switched over to the Ducks with about a minute left, but instead of the game audio, they switched to pop music. That was a shame. But at least I got to see Perry's slick empty-netter to the tune of Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry". They say hockey isn't as great a sport on TV as it is in person? Try watching it 50 feet above your head with no sound on.
The bartender at Fox Sports was telling me that during Game 5 of the Final last year, it was so crowded in there that they ran out of glasses and had to borrow some from The Cheesecake Factory. Then even that wasn't enough, so they had to buy sleeves of plastic cups from Target. I guess they probably had the audio on that night.
Now the Ducks have a decent test at home tonight against Dallas, a team that has also struggled to find their way in the early going. The Stars come in with a 5-6-2 record, fourth in the Pacific Division. Meanwhile, the Ducks are just a point back of first-place San Jose, as this entire division has been going the mediocre route this season. The Sharks, many people's pick to contend for the Cup this season, were smoked 5-2 in their own building by the Kings Friday night, but come back with a 3-1 win at Staples the following night.
By the way, Mike Modano comes into tonight's game needing just one point to tie the mark for U.S.-born scorers (which belongs to Phil Housley at 1,232). I'm guessing Ducks fans don't want to see Modano tie or break the record at Honda Center, so tonight I think we can adjust the slogan to "Not in Our House, Not in Our Home."
But if he should get the record (hopefully on the only goal Dallas scores all night) it's a tremendous accomplishment by a classy guy. The Ducks plan to recognize the accomplishment and here's hoping Ducks fans honor it accordingly. It's kind of like your daughter marrying the wrong guy. You don't really want it to happen, but when it does, you fake a smile and you applaud. Then you drink heavily and dance to a Bon Jovi song. (Well, maybe only in the wedding example.)
Updated Nov. 2 11:31 a.m.
So, that's what the Ducks have been missing in the shootout all this time. Giving a chance to a defenseman who had never even tried one before in a real game. Last night, Matty Schneider made Randy Carlyle look like a genius by taking that wrist shot that trickled through the pads of Fredrik Norrena and crawled over the stripe.
The smile on Schneider's face was infectious and the roar from the Honda Center crowd was a lot more satisfying than the audible groans and boos that followed PA announcer Phil Hullett's "We're going to a shootout!" announcement. In case you didn't catch it from the game recap, that was just the third home shootout win for the Ducks ever. And it definitely came at the right time, snapping a four-game losing streak that was really starting to get on our nerves.
Shootout aside, I think Ducks fans are really going to like Schneider. I would never say he'll make us forget Scott Niedermayer, but he displayed some skills last night that Scotty certainly showed the last two years. The way he moved the puck up the ice last night (whether by skating it up or making a crisp headman pass) and shuttled it on the power play (though the Ducks again didn't score on it last night) was impressive and will only get better as he gets more into game shape.
Speaking of defensemen, I thought Kent Huskins looked outstanding last night. He generated a few opportunities on the offensive end, and midway through the third period put on a zig-zag skating display into the attacking zone (followed by a shot that was kicked away) that would make any forward in the league proud.
Let's see if this win, which was boosted by the return of Schneider, Ryan Getzlaf and Rob Niedermayer (who scored the Ducks' only regulation goal Video ) is the spark the Ducks need right now. Aside from Todd Bertuzzi, who is out indefinitely with that concussion, the Ducks are back to full health. And it couldn't come at a better time, as Saturday's game at Phoenix marks the first of 10 straight against Pacific Division foes, six of which are at Honda Center.
Updated Nov. 1 at 12:12 p.m.
The Register's Jeff Miller, who may just be the best sport columnist in the area, has a nice feature on Drew Miller (no relation) in today's paper.
You may have seen we have a new Duck Cast with Steve Carroll talking to Corey Perry. Corey is a little soft-spoken, so you may want to turn up the volume a bit . We're going to try and do those more often than in the past, so stay tuned for that.
Randy Carlyle indicated this morning that there is a good likelihood that Getzlaf, Niedermayer (that's Rob, not Scott) and Schneider will play tonight, but stressed it's a gametime decision. Randy typically talks to reporters just before the morning skate ends, and he indicated today he hadn't yet been able to meet with those players and the training staff. "I'm in such a hurry to come talk to you guys, I didn't have a chance to talk to them yet," Carlyle said with a smile, which prompted an overly uproarious laugh from the gathering of reporters. "That's part of the job. You've got to be available, right?"
Updated Nov. 1 at 10:23 a.m.
It seems like it's been awhile since the Ducks have played a game, which they do tonight against Columbus. It's actually only been four days since that shootout loss Sunday against Edmonton. But the space between games has been good for the Ducks, who are likely to get Ryan Getzlaf and Rob Niedermayer back and possibly Mathieu Schneider. The Ducks are currently going through their morning skate, and all three are on the ice.
The Blue Jackets come in looking as strong as they maybe ever have in their seven-year franchise history. After never having made the playoffs, the Jackets are 7-3-1 after dispatching the Kings 4-1 last night at Staples. They already defeated the Ducks 4-0 in their season opener Oct. 5 in Columbus, and have won their last three games at Honda Center, two in shootouts. (I know that word "shootout" makes Ducks fans cringe.) Columbus has only allowed 21 goals in 11 games, best in the Western Conference.
So, although the Ducks will possibly be healthier than they've been in awhile, it will still be a tough test.
Speaking of tonight's game, we've implemented a new feature into the website. We'll have Game Notes available the morning of each game, in a nice interactive page that gives you quick access to several different categories. Take a look by clicking here.