Adam Brady is the Director of Publications & New Media for the Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center. Email him by CLICKING HERE.
Updated Dec. 31 at 11:19 a.m.
Last night's 2-1 loss at Vancouver was certainly not how the Ducks hoped to cap off 2007 and finish the first half of what could safely be called an up-and-down season. But it was hard to expect much out of a Ducks team that finished its game in Calgary less than 20 hours prior to the faceoff against the Canucks, who on top of it all have been nearly unbeatable at home the last two months.
And the Ducks showed that fatigue early, taking two interference penalties in the first to set up a 5-on-3 for Vancouver, during which the Canucks goal seemed almost inevitable. Still, the Ducks surprisingly seemed to get stronger as the game went on. They dominated play in the third period, outshooting Vancouver 11-3 and taking just one penalty. Ryan Getzlaf's goal midway through the period on a great feed from Scott Niedermayer cut the lead in half, but that was all the Ducks would get.
Again, Randy Carlyle put it best. "Tonight and last night was an indication of how much work we have ahead of us, even with Scott Niedermayer," Carlyle said. "The honeymoon is over."
Speaking of Niedermayer, we have a new Ducks poll up. Here are the results of the last poll, which asked you which of the Ducks who joined the team in mid-December had the biggest impact. I was surprised that Niedermayer didn't win in a landslide. The results showed the high hopes and appreciation Ducks fans have for Bobby Ryan: Scott Niedermayer 41.71%; Bobby Ryan 40.48%; Doug Weight 17.82%.
So, here we are, coincidentally on the cusp of a new year and at the halfway point of the season. The defending champions are 19-17-5 and aside from these last two road games, appear to be putting things together. You have to be itching to see what's coming next from this team.
And despite a 2007-08 season that has been rocky, this year has unquestionably been the most memorable in Ducks history. We have a photo and video tribute to the year 2007 that I hope you'll enjoy.
Here are a few dates that stand from '07:
The Ducks play their 1,000th game as a franchise, a milestone that is about as meaningful as they "A Mighty Decade" banner that used to hang from the Honda Center rafters.
While several Western Conference powers stock up at the trade deadline, the Ducks remain relatively quiet, only acquiring winger Brad May. The move turns out to pay off, as May brings leadership, toughness and forechecking ability to the Ducks down the stretch. More importantly, he stands out as a star of the Ducks championship DVD, as his wireless mic reveals him to be a trash-talking genius. In response to an unidentified Ottawa player telling May to "watch out for the boards" after a hit, May turns to the guy, looks at him for one second and says, "Who the [bleep] are you?"
Just prior to a 4-3 victory in Columbus, a Vancouver victory over San Jose gives the Ducks their first-ever Pacific Division crown, an accomplishment that will lose its significance two months later.
The Ducks finish off a relatively easy five-game victory over Minnesota with a 4-1 victory at Honda Center to move to the Western Conference Semifinals.
After a monster hit by Rob Niedermayer on Jannik Hansen, Scott Niedermayer throws the puck past a distracted Roberto Luongo to beat Vancouver 2-1 in overtime and advance to the Western Conference Final. Luongo throws himself face first down on the ice, a vision just as memorable as the Niedermayer goal.
Scott Niedermayer (with 47.3 seconds left in regulation) and Teemu Selanne (in overtime) score two of the biggest goals in Ducks history, shocking Detroit 2-1 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. The only sounds heard in a mostly silent Joe Louis Arena are Wings fans slamming their seats and yelling words I can't reprint here.
After going into the third period with a 3-0 lead, the Ducks barely withstand a Detroit charge to hang on 4-3, as thousands of Ducks fans lose a year off their lives from the stress of those final minutes.
Andy McDonald scores two beautiful goals to help the Ducks to a 3-2 victory in Ottawa in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. And if I told you that 6 1/2 months later McDonald would be playing for the St. Louis Blues, you'd slap my face.
The Ducks defeat the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to win the franchise's (and California's) first Cup. The old silly team name and colors, the bad first few years., the losing seasons, the heartbreaking Game 7 losses, the bad streaks, the injuries, the suspensions are all forgotten. The Ducks are Stanley Cup champs. The Ducks are Stanley Cup champs.
Thousands of fans flood the Honda Center parking lot to celebrate the Ducks' Stanley Cup title and eat free hot dogs.
The Ducks sign Mathieu Schneider in response to Scott Niedermayer's indication that he may retire.
The Ducks sign Todd Bertuzzi in response to Teemu Selanne's indication that he may retire.
Dustin Penner signs an offer sheet with the Edmonton Oilers and the Ducks do not match it. Brian Burke calls the offer by Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe “a desperate move by a general manager trying to save his job.” That turns out to be one of the nicer things Burke says about Lowe over the summer.
Scott Niedermayer meets with media to announce he's ... um ... still undecided.
Teemu Selanne meets with reports to announce he's "not 100 percent ready." To play? No, to decide.
Without Niedermayer, Selanne, injured players J.S. Giguere, Samuel Pahlsson and Schneider, the Ducks open the season in of all places London, against the L.A. Kings. They lose 4-1, but come back to beat the Kings the next night by the same score. During their stay in the country, the Ducks see Big Ben, Parliament and eat plenty of bad food.
Five months to the day after winning the Cup, the Ducks lose their third straight on a post-London road swing, to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Turns out that a trip overseas the week before might have had an effect on the Ducks.
Prior to the home opener, the Ducks raise their Pacific Division, Western Conference and Stanley Cup banners to the rafters, a chill-inducing moment if there ever was one. During the ceremony, which includes a video montage of the Ducks' run to the Cup, thousands of men in Honda Center utter this line: "No, I'm not crying. I just have something in both of my eyes." During the intermisson of the game, Niedermayer and Selanne each speak to reporters to announce ... yeah, they haven't decided yet.
The Ducks sign Ryan Getzlaf to a five-year extension, satisfying Ducks fans (especially the female ones).
Scott Niedermayer announces that he's ... he's returning to the Ducks!
In a move to free up cap space to get Niedermayer in the lineup, the Ducks trade Andy McDonald to St. Louis and acquire veteran center Doug Weight in the deal. "Ducks Gain Weight" headlines sprout up all over the hockey world.
Niedermayer and Weight suit up for the Ducks for the first time, and new call-up (and 2005 No. 2 overall selection) Bobby Ryan is also in the lineup. But it's not enough, as the Ducks lose 2-1 to the Sharks in a shooutout.
The Ducks win in Edmonton, 2-1, tying a season high with their fourth win in a row and appear to be playing their best hockey of the campaign.
In their final game of 2007, a fatigued Ducks team falls 2-1 at Vancouver, their second straight loss on a swing through Canada.
And here we are at the end. I think it's safe to say this coming year won't be nearly as nutty as '07 was, but I'm definitely looking forward to it. Here's hoping everyone has a great New Year's Eve, a fresh stock of Advil on New Year's Day and resolutions that last longer than a few days.
See you in '08.
Updated Dec. 30 at 11:22 a.m.
So, the Ducks went up 3-1 thanks to the first goals of the season by George Parros and Scott Niedermayer, and they were dominating play against the Flames. They held that two-goal lead midway through the second period and were outshooting Calgary by a mile. So, I decided to turn the game off and focus on Pats-Giants.
Does anyone know what happened? What did we win by, 4-1? 5-2?
Okay, the truth is I never took my eyes off the Ducks game, alternating it and the Pats game between big flat screen and mini flat screen that adorn my living room. And watching Anaheim give up four unanswered over the last 30 minutes of the game was like watching a helicopter spin out of control and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
While the Ducks looked just like the rejuvenated group that had won four in a row entering last night, they played the final half of the game a lot like the pre-Niedermayer/Weight/Ryan team. Anaheim gave up an eye-opening 15 shots in the final period (one less than they gave up the entire game Friday against Edmonton), along with a jaw-dropping nine penalties. And to top it off, Niedermayer did something he rarely does -- he made a mistake. He lost the puck off his stick behind the Ducks net, allowing Kristian Huselius to tie the game 3-3. Granted, the ice in the area where Niedermayer was playing with the puck resembled the stuff under your boots at the chairlift entrance at Mammoth Mountain more than an NHL sheet, but Niedermayer hardly used that as an excuse.
"It was pretty bad, but I have to make a better play, make a better decision," Niedermayer said. "I know I'm the last guy and obviously to flip the puck right around the net is always dangerous. You never want to make a bad play like that. I took a bit of a chance, turning back, and the puck jumped up."
That goal was followed by another slightly flukey one, as Jarome Iginla's slap shot on the power play was way off the mark, but it somehow hit Chris Pronger in the chest and bounded past J.S. Giguere. But while those two goals came from unlikely circumstances, the Ducks didn't generate many opportunities to get them back.
As usual, Randy Carlyle put it succinctly: "When we got up 3-1, we stopped skating. We didn't do the things that were necessary to win a hockey game. We didn't play for 60 minutes. For whatever reason, whether it was energy, if it was a lack of concentration, whatever, we just didn't seem to be able to get it back."
In case you missed Parros' and Niedermayer's first goals of the season, check them out here and here. (On Niedermayer's, ignore Johnny Ahlers' original call of Kunitz deflecting it in front. Replays showed he never touched it.)
The Ducks obviously came into the game loose enough. I laughed when I heard that the team had gotten ahold of a few Ryan Getzlaf bobblehead dolls that were in the building for a giveaway at a Calgary Hitmen game. The Hitmen are Getzlaf's former junior team and they are planning on handing out the bobbleheads next month. Apparently, Getzlaf's teammates snagged a few and placed them around the locker room, with strategically placed strips of tape on their heads to simulate Getzy's premature hair loss.
Now the Ducks will face a tall order to bounce back. They remained in Calgary late in the night thanks to the pushed back start time (to accomodate Hockey Night in Canada) then trudged to Vancouver where they face a good Canucks team tonight at 5 p.m. Pacific. Meanwhile, Vancouver has been ridiculously hot at home since Nov. 1, going 9-0-2 in that stretch while outscoring opponents 34-10. Roberto Luongo has started each one of those home games and has a 0.89 goals-against average and .967 save percentage.
For the Ducks to further prove they're a new team, a better team than the one prior to the Niedermayer/Weight/Ryan renaissance, they've got to come up big in games like these.
Updated Dec. 28 at 11:57 a.m.
It wasn't just the fact the Ducks fought for a victory last night in an arena that has traditionally caused them fits, it was the way they won it that was emblematic of the new look of this team in the last half-month. With the score knotted at a goal apiece, two Ducks who weren't with the team prior to Dec. 16 teamed for the game-winner with 3:39 remaining. Bobby Ryan made a brilliant feed to Doug Weight, who finished the job with a blistering wrist shot in the top right corner. The pass and shot were topped only by Weight's reaction, as you can read his lips forming the words "Great pass!" during the celebration. Check out the video.
I liked Weight's description of the play: "He just made a nice pass under the stick, a beautiful play. All I had to do was hammer it home." Doug Weight just seems like a guy who derives pure joy from playing the game of hockey.
That was Weight's first goal as a Duck, and it couldn't have come at a better time. And like that goal, Anaheim's first tally of the night also came on a gorgeous feed. Todd Bertuzzi (who like Ryan and Weight wasn't on the team last year) skated behind the cage and gave Perry the puck for a one-timer that happened so fast, you may need to rewind this video a few times to catch it.
Best of all, the Ducks took just four penalties in the game (two of which were by Ryan Carter on the same play) and allowed another satisfyingly low number of shots. Edmonton could only squeeze through 16 shots on J.S. Giguere, and only five in the all-important third period. That's the trend lately for a Ducks team that in the last four games has given up 20 shots or less three times. That, folks, is how you win hockey games, and it's definitely how you win them in the postseason.
By the way, there are some cool photos from last night, including a great shot of Chris Pronger next to Dustin Penner and a nice one of the Niedermayer brothers. Check out the Photo Gallery from the game.
Moving on, the Ducks are practicing this morning at the old Calgary Corral arena, which is across the street from the Saddledome, where they will play the Flames tomorrow night. The locker room at the Corral (which somehow hosted the Flames from 1980-83) is apparently so small you have to go outside to change your mind. Because of that, the Ducks are forced to change into their gear at the Saddledome, then walk about three minutes across a snow-covered city street with very light traffic to the Corral in everything but their skates.
The photos below were sent by Ducks Director of Media & Communications Alex Gilchrist and Manager of Hockey Operations Ryan Lichtenfels from their cell phones. The sight of this is apparently pretty surreal and very funny, especially because goalies have to put on the pads (and in Giguere's case, actually wear the mask) and waddle across the street with skate guards on. Here are some of the photos (apologies for the quality):
|Mathieu Schneider and Sean O'Donnell
|More Schneider and O'Donnell
|The locker room at the Corral shows you why the Ducks change across the street.
|The Ducks practice
|Giguere on the way back after practice.
Updated Dec. 27 at 12:55 p.m.
I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. My apologies for the lack of production as of late. I was enjoying some time with the family over the holiday up in San Francisco, though I saw little of the city. I spent most of the time sitting on my sister and brother-in-law's couch, catching movies I've already seen and staring at my 1 1/2-year-old niece as she played a game she apparently calls "grab toys out of their baskets and throw them over my shoulder." Yesterday I drove with my father from San Francisco to O.C., a long drive made much easier by our 6:30 a.m. departure coupled with my portable DVD playing episodes of the British version of "The Office" and season 1 of "Arrested Development."
Anyway, it's good to be back in town, at a time when the Ducks are out of town for the next few days as they swing through Canada. Tonight they look to test their three-game winning streak in Edmonton against an Oilers team that is having a tough time. The Oil only have five goals in their last four games, and they've dropped three in a row. The rejuvenated Ducks will be looking for a measure of revenge against an Edmonton squad that drummed Anaheim 5-1 on Nov. 30 at Rexall Place, then 4-0 two days later at Honda Center. That and the fact the Ducks are winless in three meetings with Edmonton is tough to take, considering the Oilers are 13th in the Western Conference.
The Ducks will also be looking to solve the mystery that is playing in Rexall Place, as they haven’t won a game in
I wonder if Prongs will get booed when he touches the puck tonight. Probably not. They're probably tired of that.
Speaking of that, the Edmonton Sun has a story today on the fact that the Ducks and Oilers have developed a passionate rivalry, despite their geographical differences. Here's a line from the story by writer Robert Tychkowski: "Nobody likes to see another GM lift his leg on their logo, so it's no surprise the Oilers always have a little extra spring in their skates when they see Anaheim."
"Lift his leg on their logo?" Aren't we getting a little carried away there? It is a funny visual though, isn't it? Thank goodness the Sun didn't have its cartoonist do work for that story.
Tonight the Oilers are without one of their top scorers, Ales Hemsky, who was knocked out with a knee injury in their last game. But they might make up for that loss with a newly revived Dustin Penner, who after struggling early in the season has 11 points in his last 14 games.
The Ducks have injury problems of their own, as Sammy Pahlsson didn't make the trip with more abdominal problems. Mathieu Garon is apparently getting the start in goal for Edmonton tonight, since Dwayne Roloson has strep throat and Garon has dominated the Ducks this year.
This Saturday, after the Ducks-Calgary game, J.S. Giguere "In My Own Words" will debut on FSN Prime Ticket at 9:30 p.m. It will air several more times on that channel and FSN West if you miss it.
NHL.com has a story on Brian Salcido, the SoCal kid currently playing in Portland.
I was sorry to hear this morning that Stu Nahan died at the age of 81. People from around here will remember Nahan as an icon of Southland sports, but even more will remember him as the announcer in the first couple of Rocky movies. Nahan, by the way, used to be a minor league hockey goalie.
One last thing. Mischa Barton of "The O.C." is apparently looking to revive her career by joining the trend of young Hollywood chicks getting picked up for DUI. Mischa was arrested Thursday morning for DUI and possession of marijuana after sheriff's deputies saw her car "straddling two lanes of traffic."
Updated Dec. 24 at 10:11 a.m.
I know it's been a couple of days since the Ducks dominated the Sharks in San Jose's house, but I haven't had a chance yet to comment on what was a thrilling game to watch in person. I don't know why this is, but the game and the current state of the Ducks reminded me of the line Coach Norman Dale uses in "Hoosiers" during the pep rally when the crowd starts chanting, "We want Jimmy!" He gets on the mic, admonishes the fans for not appreciating the team for what it is and says, "This is your team."
Obviously, that reference would have been more appropriate when the Ducks fans were chanting "One more year!" for Scotty and Teemu on opening night. But the line "This is your team" ran through my head when I was watching the Ducks on Saturday night. Scotty is back and appears to have already rounded into mid-season form. Bobby Ryan is up and doesn't look like he's going anywhere. Doug Weight is already looking very comfortable. Todd Bertuzzi is playing extremely well. (How huge was his breakaway goal just 44 seconds after Marleau's strike looked like it might get the Sharks back in the game?) J.S. Giguere continues to be solid in net behind a defense that isn't giving up a lot of chances. Everyone has appeared to have raised their games in the last week and they seem to be enjoying themselves while they're doing it. This is your team, and I can't wait to see what they do over the next few months.
But as good as they looked Saturday night, there are some disclaimers. The Ducks still committed way too many penalties, and gave up a power play goal (to Patrick Marleau early in the third period) for the first time since Dec. 14. They were also playing a San Jose team that appears in a tailspin right now. One of their veterans criticizes the team through the press, they have a two-hour closed-door meeting after losing to Phoenix in a shootout Thursday and on Saturday night the arena that is supposed to be among the loudest in the league seemed rather subdued to me. Of course, they didn't have a whole lot to cheer about.
(By the way, I'm writing this from my sister and brother-in-law's living room in San Francisco, while I babysit my 1 1/2-year-old niece. She comes by periodically trying to press random keys on the laptop. Last night she kept pressing the number 4 while shouting out, "Six!" She'll get there eventually. Anyway, if you see a guhsdvs;lka92nkd mixed in here once in awhile, you'll know why. I just gave her the remote control to press buttons on and she somehow managed to change the TV to a music channel with gansta rap. Interesting. I just put on Curious George and she's completely mesmerized by it. Now I know why parents swear by this stuff.)
Back to the game, In case you didn't catch it on TV or radio, Sharks fans have joined in the trend of booing Chris Pronger every time he touched the puck. Or maybe they were saying "Chrrriiiiiiisss." They also started up a chant of "Ducks suck!" about a half dozen times. I would respond with a chant of my own that went, "Well, we've been kind of up and down this season, but we've had some injuries and a bit of a Stanley Cup hangover, though it really looks like with the return of Scott Niedermayer and the addition of Doug Weight we're turning it around and hopefully we're rounding into shape for another playoff run. All that being said, I certainly don't think we suck."
Yeah, that didn't flow as well as "Ducks suck!"
The one legitimate comeback I did have came when my father and I were walking out of the arena, and some 20-something guy yelled out, "Ducks suck!" I was a few steps behind him and said, "5-2, bud." He didn't turn around.
I thought HP Pavilion was a nice place to watch a hockey game, and even in our last-row seats (provided comped from the Sharks staff) we felt pretty close to the ice. But my father pointed out that it had kind of a sterile feel to it. The councourses are all have a white decor to them, making it appear almost like a hospital. That is, if a hospital had thousands of people in teal jerseys walking around it, not to mention beer stands. I did think the Shark Tank had that overly polished feel to it, kind of like the expansive and disinfected Staples Center. Honda Center has always felt more ... I don't know ... intimate to me . I can't explain it.
There was a huge amount of teal in the building, and I think my father and I were among maybe a dozen Ducks fans in there. Speaking of those jerseys, I was sitting next to a guy in last year's jersey and I asked him what he thought about the new unis and logo. "I hate it," he said without hesitation. Then he gave me the impression he wasn't the only one.
If you ever get an itch to make a road trip to a future Ducks-Sharks game in San Jose, I highly recommend the Hotel Valencia on Santana Row. Very cool, modern hotel and a great little "downtown" area to shop, get something to eat or drink or just walk around.
Plus, San Jose is a great place to watch the Ducks win. That's six in a row in your building, Sharks fans. Who "sucks" now?
And the only thing unfortunate about this little Christmas break is we can't watch the Ducks again until Thursday. But I hope everyone has a great holiday anyway.
Updated Dec. 21 at 11:29 a.m.
It's "jeans day" at the Ducks offices, a common practice here the last work day before a holiday. It's always a little strange seeing your normally businesslike co-workers walking around in jeans and whatever shirt they decide to coordinate with it. But it's a lot better than when we had "spandex leggings day." That was a little awkward.
The Ducks will not be wearing jeans when they practice this afternoon at Anaheim Ice, nor when they head out of here for San Jose, where they play tomorrow night. The Sharks just lost 3-2 last night to Phoenix, after blowing a one-goal lead on the last minute while on the power play. They apparently are not where they want to be right now, which has led Jeremy Roenick to go on this diatribe:
“When this team gets in trouble, we wait for somebody else to do the job; instead of taking initiative to do what you can do to help, we’re waiting for somebody else to do it. . . . With the exception of maybe a couple guys, we have no grit in terms of our meanness to want to compete. And when we do that, we’re an easy team to play against.
“Guys are doing their own thing, not supporting one another. When you don’t work away from the puck and help the guy you’re playing with, you’re just putting him in a bad situation. We get caught standing around, looking, more lackadaisical instead of stepping up the pace. . . . It comes down to how much you really want it. Are you here just to make the paycheck and pass the time away, or did you come here to win?
“I think we have to come to the realization that you’re not letting yourself down, you’re letting 20 other guys down by not competing. A lot of people are looking to you for bringing that leadership, and when it’s not brought, it’s easy for the other guy to say, ‘Well, he didn’t do it so why should I?’ And that’s a disease.”
Let's hope they don't cure that disease before tomorrow night. By the way, am I the only one who thinks of "Swingers" every time I hear Roenick's name? "Y'know, it's not so much me as it is Roenick. He's good."
Moving on, Michael Lev has an online-only feature on the rejuvenated Bobby Ryan on the O.C. Register's website. That same website has some nice art to accompany it's latest update on poor Matt Keough. Speaking of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" am I the only one whose had just about enough of the disgusting OC Angels? These girls are despicable. There is a point, ladies, when you dye your hair so blond it appears white. That combined with the orange pigment caused by too much fake tanning is ... well, it's not a good look.
There is more on the Drew Miller story involving little Haili Todrick, thanks to Karen Francis on hockeytalk.biz.
Again, I'm driving up to San Francisco tomorrow to visit the sis, brother-in-law and niece, and I'll be stopping in San Jose for the game tomorrow night. I'll try to give you a report over the weekend on the atmosphere at The Shark Tank. That is, if several hours in the car with my father hasn't drained the energy out of me. I'm kidding, Dad.
We might need an addendum to the "who would play the Ducks in a movie?" ideas. I just noticed that on the newest issue of Esquire in the cover shot, Johnny Depp looks a lot like the newly shorn George Parros. The girlfriend pointed this out to me last night. See what you think:
I'll end this with the line I'm probably giving to a dozen other co-workers today: "Hey, if I don't see ya, have a great holiday!"
Updated Dec. 20 at 5:13 p.m.
Two things before I leave for the day. First of all, how unfortunate is it to see this happen to this cherubic face?
Secondly, one of the least appealing "characters" on one of my favorite shows is in trouble.
Updated Dec. 20 at 1:14 p.m.
When Brian Burke stressed the desire to keep his defensive corps together when he made a deal to fit Scott Niedermayer under the salary cap, I'm sure part of what we saw last night was what he had in mind. The Ducks held a previously hot Colorado team to a ridiculous 12 shots on goal, by far the lowest the Ducks allowed in a game this year and just one away from their team record.
Of course, you don't expect those defensemen to also do all the goal-scoring, but that's what happened last night. Chris Pronger knocked in the tying goal in the third and Mathieu Schneider played the part of winger scoring the skate-off goal in overtime. Schneider was the epitome of grace under pressure when he held the puck long enough to get Avs d-man Scott Hannan to make a move before roofing the puck under the top right corner.
Not to keep coming back to this point, but that style of hockey last night was exactly the type of play that won the Stanley Cup for the Ducks last season. Go back to last year's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final when the Ducks held Ottawa (a great offensive team, by the way) to a measly 13 shots in winning 6-2. Of course, that's more like the score should have been last night, as the Ducks snapped off 38 shots but couldn't seem to get anything past Peter Budaj. This was definitely a game the Ducks deserved to win, and thankfully it happened in overtime.
Here was a quote from Schneider: "To me, to have the opportunity to keep this defense corps together is pretty amazing. I think it's going to be the source of a lot of wins this year."
Let's hope so.
It was the first time this year the Ducks won the both halves of a back-to-back and they did it in much the same fashion that got them the win in San Jose Wednesday night. Bobby Ryan continued to look strong in just more than 14 minutes of ice time. Corey Perry was everywhere, tying his season high with eight shots. Ryan Carter earned his first NHL point, taking the shot that hit Budaj at an awkward enough angle to set up Pronger's rebound goal. And when you're playing the second game of a back-to-back and you're starting your backup, a guy who is still relatively untested in this league, treating him to just having to face 12 shots is nice. And Jonas Hiller looked solid in stopping all but one of those, a Cody McCormick one-timer that he certainly couldn't be blamed for. It also helped that Ryan Smyth, the Avs' third-leading scorer who was tough on the Ducks during his time in Edmonton (remember when Jiggy charged after him in frustration two years ago?), woke up yesterday morning with a stiff neck and didn't play.
How good is this quote from Doug Weight, especially considering the Ducks have now given up the first goal in 13 of their last 14 contests?: "On the bench we were really confident when they scored. It was just merely a speed bump. We felt like we were going to come back in this game."
And the most pleasant surprise last night was the fact the Ducks committed just one penalty, not including George Parros' fight with Scott Parker and the face not even a mother could love. One penalty? The Ducks usually get three before they arrive at the rink. And they easily squashed the power play on that one, giving them a string of 14 straight kills that dates back to the Minnesota game on Dec. 14. Of course, No. 27 arrived back with the team in the game after that, and it's no coincidence the Ducks haven't allowed a power play goal in that time.
Speaking of 27, he always seems to have one play every game (usually many more) that won't show up in the highlights, but is still monumental. Last night it was with under a minute to go in the third when speedy Avs youngster Paul Stastny rushed toward the Ducks net with the puck. With seemingly the same exertion he uses to put on socks in the morning, Niedermayer skated up to him and politely took the puck away, like taking a bottle from an infant after deciding they'd had enough.
Helene Elliott has a nice story on 27 in today's edition of the L.A. Times. I like this quote from Randy Carlyle, who isn't exactly a fertile source of glowing compliments: "We haven't asked him to do anything special other than be Scott Niedermayer, but that's special in itself."
The Ducks didn't practice today, instead heading to CHOC this afternoon. They will hit the ice tomorrow and then head out of town to play (wait, this can't be right) San Jose ... again.
A couple of non-Ducks related items before I wrap this up. I just started getting into "Run's House" on MTV, which is about Joseph "Run" Simmons of rap group Run-DMC and his family, and I highly recommend it. Very entertaining show. Give it a chance and see if you don't agree.
Finally, do you ever imagine yourself back in time and wonder how you would react to hearing certain news items? No, I'm not talking about the fact that Jamie-Lynn Spears is pregnant. Last night I saw a headline scroll across the ESPN ticker that made me shake my head. About 13 months ago, when Tony Romo was a career backup who had never started an NFL game, and most people had never heard of him, you could have never imagined that you would see the following headline: T.O. OBJECTS TO ROMO'S RELATIONSHIP WITH JESSICA SIMPSON.
Life is funny sometimes, isn't it?
Updated Dec. 19 at 12:15 p.m.
You can't say enough good things about the Ducks' victory at San Jose last night, which is surprisingly Anaheim's fifth straight win in that building, one of the toughest in the league to play in.
It took the Ducks 36 games to get their first shutout of the season, and they did it in the fashion that was typical of the team last year. Against an always-strong San Jose attack, the Ducks allowed a measly 20 shots on goal, and J.S. Giguere knocked away all of them. Has anyone noticed how well Jiggy is playing since Scotty returned? I mean, 20 shots isn't asking a lot of him, but he had some fine saves last night and Sunday night. The defense in front of him was helped last night by the return of the underrated Kent Huskins, who had missed the previous six games with a knee injury.
How good is Bobby Ryan looking right now? This goal near the end of the second period, while being dragged to the ice from behind reminded me a little of this goal by the guy selected on spot before him in the '05 Draft. Ryan should have had a second insurance goal in the third, after making a great steal at center ice and playing give-and-go with Todd Bertuzzi. Ryan was staring at a gaping gap in the net, but Nabokov did well to make a desperation kick save, and Ryan was at fault for not getting the puck up high.
Nevertheless, the Ducks did practically everything right in this one, winning with defense, hitting and timely scoring. That defense was again boosted by that Niedermayer guy. He continued to do all the little things, and got his first point of the season on a typical Scotty play. His chip from in front of the Ducks goal toward the boards put the puck on Todd Marchant's stick, whose pass to set up Ryan's goal was only overshadowed by the way Ryan scored it.
But the beauty of Scotty's game, aside with the things we see in the box score, was on display in this one. There was a point in the game where he picked up the puck in the corner of the Ducks zone, made a spin move that would make Michelle Kwan jealous and sent the puck right to the tape of brother Rob. I was watching the game with some other Ducks staffers at a Christmas party, and we actually hit the DVR rewind on that one. It's not often you're compelled to rewind a play where a defenseman ships the puck out of his zone, but this was an exception.
Doug Weight also pulled his weight last night (the one great thing about trading for him is I get to use stupid puns like that), and so far looks like a great fit with Ryan and Bertuzzi. I liked this quote from Weight about his relationship with the rookie: “I just want to be a buddy to him. He’s a nice kid. We’ve hit it off well so far. It’s like every friendship. You’re there for him. You offer some advice. Whatever you can teach on the way, little plays here and there — talk about the game. That’s what I try to focus on.”
We shouldn't neglect to mention Corey Perry's first goal of the game early in the second, which was his career-high 18th -- and we still have 46 games to go. Kunitz gave Perry a gorgeous pass across the rink and Perry nicely roofed the one-timer.
To top it off, Georgie had a heck of a fight against Rob Davison, earning the clear decision in that one. That combined with everything else made is one of the most joyful Ducks games to watch this season.
Speaking of Parros, our resident professional skaterboard/rock vocalist/blogger Mike V has written about the Ducks enforcer in his latest post.
Now the test the Ducks is to see if they can keep it going with the back end of the back-to-back against a Colorado team that comes in having won three straight. Their top line of Ryan Smyth, Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk has combined for 16 goals and 38 points over the last nine games. It will be interesting to see what they do against the Niedermayer-inspired defense and the Rob Niedermayer-Sammy Pahlsson-Travis Moen shutdown line that will probably be put on the ice with them all night.
Updated Dec. 18 at 2:41 p.m.
It should definitely be a good one tonight, with the Ducks giving it another shot against San Jose. And if this one squeezes into a shootout for the fourth straight time (fifth if you include last season), it will hardly be a surprise.
And as if this rivalry doesn't generate enough intrigue, it will be interesting to see how Scott Niedermayer, Doug Weight and Bobby Ryan perform after all three showed promise Sunday night. Weight admitted that he lost some push during Sunday's game, after he set up Ryan with a beautiful pass in the first. "I ran out of steam a little bit," said Weight. "I was excited all night for two nights (after the trade) and I was excited all afternoon. I will get some rest. I'll get my legs under me."
After this one, the Ducks rush back here to play Colorado, which took care of the Kings last night, 4-2 (L.A.'s eighth loss in the last 10 games). Then the Ducks head back to San Jose again on Saturday night. I'm actually going to attend that game, since I'm driving with my dad to San Francisco to visit my sister, brother-in-law and niece for Christmas. I'm looking forward to seeing just how loud the Shark Tank gets.
Let's hope tonight and that night, it stays relatively quiet.
Too bad to hear about Brad May's broken foot, which has put him on the IR. No word on how long he will be out yet, but let's hope he can get back soon.
Updated Dec. 17 at 5:38 p.m.
VH1 has put together a list of the 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s, which they will count down on a five-night special starting tonight. Here is the list. I guess it's not a big surprise that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana is tops on the list, but what does it say about the '90s when the top song of the decade is one where no one can understand the lyrics? Do you know one person who can sing that song word for word?
"I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys? Now that's a song. I would have voted for that ... or "MMMBop." And "Rico Suave" is appropriately at No. 100.
Updated Dec. 17 at 3:34 p.m.
Okay, I lied earlier. The Ducks didn't have an official practice today. They had the day off from skating (although about five guys did skate today) and headed out of town a few minutes ago.
I'll try to make it up to you with a few things. First of all, the always-good Scott Burnside has a new column on ESPN.com in which he hits on several topics, starting with the Flyers' shocking signing of 22-year-old Mike Richards to a 12-year $69 million contract and the Andy McDonald trade.
I'll also give you this. The girlfriend and I saw "Juno" on Saturday night and both loved it. The lead actress, Ellen Page, was fantastic and has an absolutely mesmerizing face. I had never seen her before, but she's in a movie called "Hard Candy" that you might have caught. Meanwhile, Michael Cera and Jason Bateman are also great. Both were in one of my all-time favorite shows, Arrested Development, and Cera was just in "Superbad" last summer. He's great in everything he does. Anyway, I highly recommend "Juno."
We enjoyed it despite the fact that the only thing available for that showing at the Edwards University by UC Irvine were front row seats. We sat down with a free seat between us and another couple to our right, and I was right in front of a teenage girl who decided it was not impolite to put her disgusting bare feet on the back of my seat. It was bothering my girlfriend more than it was bothering me, although I could hear this twit audibly sigh when I had the audacity to sit back in my seat. That meant she had to move her toes from actually curling over into my seat to just lurking at the top of the seat back. Just about the time we were going ask her to move her feet, a couple came by and asked if we wouldn't mind moving over a seat so they could sit together. My girlfriend replied (loud enough for Barefoot Betty to hear), "Gladly!"
Honestly though, what makes someone think it's not only okay to bare your feet in a movie theatre, but to also place said feet right behind someone's head? Who raised you? Was I like this when I was in college?
I was reminded about this by a related story on our Ducks message board. Try to ignore the lack of paragraphs.
Updated Dec. 17 at 11:52 a.m.
A loss is a loss, but you have to take a lot of positives out of last night's 2-1 shootout defeat against San Jose. The Ducks looked sharp in many aspects and were essentially victims of a goalie, Evgeni Nabokov, who is having a heck of a year. Nabokov is the only goalie in the league to have started every game this season, and he's still got a 1.99 goals against average. He was outstanding last night again, denying several Ducks opportunities down the stretch. Although, he got a little help in overtime, when Scott Niedermayer's shot hit the post, a potential goal that would have blown the roof off of Honda Center last night.
(Notice I didn't say "literally" blow the roof off of Honda Center. The misuse of that word is one of my biggest pet peaves, that and when people say "anyways." I saw a clip this weekend of a so-called doctor saying that Britney Spears' junk food habit is bad for her health, saying "she's literally on a rollercoaster to hell." Literally? Really? )
Anyway, it feels good to write about Scott Niedermayer actually playing, rather than speculating on what he might be thinking. Speaking of Niedermayer, he looked like his usual self last night, except for the fact that he seemed a bit winded at several points during his 23:52 of ice time. “In some ways, I feel like I owe them a little more,” Niedermayer said about his teammates. “I’m not sure how to do that, but that’s how I feel. I know they’ve been out there battling for awhile.”
Said J.S. Giguere after the game, “You kind of forget how good he was, for a second. He’s just amazing. It’s good to see him back on the ice. He looks like he’s having fun. I think that’s a key."
Giguere was very good as well, saving 36 of the 37 San Jose shots, although he couldn't keep it going in the shootout. For a guy who struggled in the format for the first couple of years, the initial SJ shootout goal last night was the first time Giguere had given one up in the last 11 attempts. Nevertheless, it was one of his best games of the season, as 19 of those saves came on the penalty kill. That helped the Ducks kill eight power-play opportunities, which again is too many, but at least they didn't hurt Anaheim on the scoreboard.
You had to also be impressed last night with Doug Weight and Bobby Ryan, both of whom combined on the only Ducks goal, which came in the first period. Weight made a gorgeous cross-ice pass to Ryan who finished it with flair. It was one of several pretty passes by Weight during the night (not to mention a handful of nice hits). I really think we're going to enjoy his game Ryan also generated a few more chances during the night. It might be a little early to tell if Ryan is adjusting to the speed of the NHL level better than he might have in the first few games of this season, but he did look strong last night against a good Sharks team.
His goal also broke a dubious streak in which the Ducks had let their opponents score the first goal in 12 straight games.
In the tradition of ex-Ducks starting off with a flurry on their new teams this season (see I. Bryzgalov, November '07), Andy McDonald had a goal and an assist last night for the Blues. How weird does this picture look, by the way?
At the same time, how great is this picture?
We have a new poll on the site that asks your favorite part of the Ducks' trade from last Friday. Notice we're not asking you whether you liked the trade or not. The last poll asked if you think Teemu Selanne will follow Scotty's lead and also return to the Ducks, and 54.99% of you said yes. We'll see if that optimism becomes warranted.
The Ducks practice at Anaheim Ice at around 1 p.m. today, then they board a bus to the airport to fly to San Jose to play those guys again. We'll have something to report from today's practice, as well as photos from George Parros' haircut on Saturday to benefit Locks of Love.
I need you to literally stay tuned.
Updated Dec. 15 at 12:20 p.m.
God forbid I should contribute to this blog on a weekend, but it's not every day that the Ducks trade away a franchise mainstay of the past several years, so I feel like it deserves a little more attention.
The first reaction to the trade is that it's tough to come to terms with losing Andy McDonald. He may have struggled this year in trying to mesh with other guys in Teemu Selanne's absence. But he's been a true pleasure to watch. More than the fact that he scored goals and skated like the wind, I don't think I have seen a finer passer of the puck the last two seasons. When I was growing up a basketball fan, I always admired guys like Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas or (more recently, Steve Nash), guys who specialized in setting up their teammates. That was something Andy McDonald did finer than just about anyone in the league, although it just wasn't happening as frequently this season. He was the first to admit in the last two seasons that his game was made better by the presence of Selanne on that line, but Selanne said the exact same thing about him. It's simple. Teemu Selanne doesn't score 48 goals last season without Andy McDonald.
It's also tough to let Mac go after he led the Ducks with 10 goals during the playoffs last year, and may have single-handedly won Game 4 at Ottawa last year with two phenomenal second-period goals in a game Anaheim played without Chris Pronger.
If you just look at the deal as McDonald vs. Doug Weight, it might not look great on paper. At 36, Weight is six years older than McDonald and Mac possibly has more point-producing potential. But that's a shortsighted way to look at the trade. This is a deal the Ducks were forced to make in order to A.) get Scott Niedermayer back in the lineup and B.) keep intact a defense which would automatically become the class of the league.
The talk of the last several days involved possibly dealing Mathieu Schneider or Sean O'Donnell, but Brian Burke made it clear with his comments yesterday that he wanted to keep that defensive corps together. He also didn't want to send a bad message by trading away a guy like Schneider, a guy with Southern California roots who they just signed in the offseason. Here was the quote from Burkie: "I think you have to keep some level of good faith with free agents if you can. The guy has a home in the LA area and he’s got four young kids. He didn’t come here to get traded. He doesn’t have a no trade clause. He held out for one and we said no, so we’re well within our legal rights to trade him but I think at the same time, a player like that with what he’s done in the game deserves a little more consideration than that."
Let's not also forget that Schneider is a phenomenal player who has performed exceptionally well since he came back from the injury. And he's a guy that's going to be even more valuable with Niedermayer's return, for many more reasons than just the fact that he doesn't have to be Scott Niedermayer anymore.
Another upside of the trade is that Weight isn't under contract for next season, which puts the Ducks in the clear as far as the salary cap "tagging" issue. McDonald was under contract for another $3.33 million next season. By trading him and bringing in Weight (a free agent after this season), combined with the fact that Scotty probably won't play next season, the Ducks have much more room to sign Corey Perry to a long-term contract.
The moral to this story is, at first glance, losing a guy like Andy McDonald is a tough pill to swallow. There is no denying that. But a further look at the short-term and long-term benefits of this trade make it much more palatable. Now we'll just have to wait and see the impact Doug Weight has on this team, and we'll get our first look at that tomorrow evening.
Moving on to a less-enticing subject to discuss -- last night's game. That was bad. Real bad. But I don't think you can underestimate the impact that learning of a deal of this magnitude, just hours before a game, can have on a team. That's especially true to a guy like J.S. Giguere, who is obviously close to McDonald since the two have been Ducks since 2000 and were roommates on the road the past couple of seasons. And it showed, as Giguere was the first to admit he didn't play well, before getting pulled for Hiller in the second period.
Still, that second period was tough to watch, as the Wild took advantage of seemingly every Ducks penalty and scored four power play goals. The first three goals of the game were scored by Wild players who had reportedly been held out of practice Thursday with the stomach flu. I'm sure a few Ducks would love to get a stomach flu like that.
Meanwhile, the Ducks were beaten by yet another backup goalie in Josh Harding, the same guy who shut them out Oct. 14 at Honda Center. To make matters worse, they lost to a guy who has images of the band Rascal Flatts on his mask (see right). Now, that hurts. Or, as long as we're talking about Rascal Flatts, that's "What Hurts the Most."
All the Ducks can do after a loss like that is look ahead to San Jose tomorrow evening. But please don't tell me Evgeni Nabokov has a picture of Hanson airbrushed on his mask.
Tomorrow night has to be looked at as a new start to the season for the Ducks. McDonald is out. Weight is in. Scotty is probably playing. The Ducks are only four points back of the Sharks in the Pacific Division, and tied for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, with 48 games to go.
We want a shot at another Cup? It all starts now.
Updated Dec. 14 at 5:10 p.m.
And there you go.
Just an initial comment. I hate to see Andy go, but Doug Weight is a quality veteran player who won a Cup in '06 while with Carolina (who acquired him at the trade deadline that year. He went back to St. Louis that offseason). Best of all, even though he's making $3.3 million, he's a free agent after this season, so his salary doesn't count against the Ducks' cap for next season.
Brian Burke is going to talk to media around 6:30, as is Doug Weight. We'll have more for you after that.
Updated Dec. 14 at 4:11 p.m.
Brace yourselves, because we are probably (probably) giving you trade news at any moment. The rumors are already running rampant at what it is, but I'm not going to get into that right now. If you want to find it, try our message boards. But again, nothing official yet.
Updated Dec. 14 at 11:19 a.m.
Apparently the stomach flu has taken its toll on the Minnesota Wild, as Marian Gaborik, Eric Belanger, Nick Schultz and James Sheppard were all held out of practice yesterday, and Aaron Voros rushed off the ice just minutes into it. They might actually be short the maximum 18 skaters tonight.
The flu has caused the team to give every player his own room in the hotel. “We should be in quarantine,” said forward Brian Rolston, who also noted, “I’ll play 30 minutes. I’m in good enough shape."
We'll see about that. The Wild have lost two of three on this current road trip and only have three goals in that time.
Chris Pronger has just started a blog on the Hockey News website, and in the first edition he talks about the return of Scotty. I asked him about it after the morning skate and he said, "It's sick, isn't it?" (That's a good thing, by the way.) It actually is pretty insightful, including this line about Scotty's retirement indecision: "What some people forget is, when we sign with a team, that team has the right to play us, not play us, put us on waivers, send us down or trade us. Teams own your rights; they don’t own your soul."
So, did you hear who the Ducks just traded? Yeah, me neither. Again, if and when we announce anything, this website will be the first place you'll find it. Stay tuned.
Updated Dec. 13 at 4:14 p.m.
Feel free to stop holding your breath. It looks highly unlikely the Ducks will make a deal before the end of the day.
We'll wait and see what happens tomorrow. (Now after I say that, we'll probably make a trade in the next 10 minutes.)
By the way, you can hear my stupid voice on our latest (and long overdue) Duck Cast. This one is with personable new Duck Geoff Platt.
Updated Dec. 13 at 11:34 a.m.
There are no records for this sort of thing, but I'm sure the Ducks have already broken two NHL records this season:
1. First career NHL goals given up
2. Facing backup goaltenders who have the games of their lives
Both happened last night in the 3-2 loss to the Canucks, with Mayson Raymond and Jason Jaffray each finding the net for the first time in their NHL lives (in Jaffray's first-ever game, no less). (By the way, when I mentioned yesterday that Raymond was the subject of a joke on How I Met Your Mother, I didn't realize that he hadn't played an NHL game before this season, and the scene where he was mentioned was a flashback to a couple of years ago. That's a historical inaccuracy by the writers on that show. These are the things I think about.)
Meanwhile, Curtis Sanford looked like the second coming of Patrick Roy, especially during a Ducks-dominated in the third period. It led Mathieu Schneider to say, "That kid played the game of his life over there."
The defending Stanley Cup champs aren't normally in a position to consider moral victories, but there is some solace to take from last night's loss. The Ducks' third period was one of the best Anaheim has played this season, as they outshot Vancouver a shocking 16-1. But the Ducks couldn't get anything past Sanford until they emptied the net and Schneider came through with 1:31 left. The Ducks almost got another one with just under a minute remaining, but that loose puck near the post just wouldn't push through.
We'll see if the Ducks can take the momentum from that period into their game here tomorrow night with another '07 playoff foe, Minnesota. Let's hope the Ducks can break a string in that game. Get this: Anaheim has given up the first goal in 11 straight games.
I'm not going to make any more promises that we'll hear about a trade, because it keeps biting me in the rear when I do. Let me say this: The Ducks will make a trade before the end of the season. You can take that to the bank.
By the way, Roger Clemens took steroids? You're kiding me! I haven't been this shocked since I found out Britney and K-Fed were splitting up.
Updated Dec. 12 at 6:40 p.m.
Another day goes by and still no trade. We'll get back to you on that tomorrow. Enjoy the game.
Updated Dec. 12 at 11:22 a.m.
My apologies for teasing you with trade talk yesterday. Nothing ended up going down, but let's just assume something will happen soon. How's that for a commitment?
It will be nice to see the Ducks at home again, after they've been on the road for most of the last week. Super-goalie Roberto Luongo probably won't play tonight, as he's suffering from a rib injury that has kept him out since Dec. 2. Luongo shut out the Ducks 4-0 in Vancouver on Nov. 27. Curtis Sanford will be in net if Luongo can't go. Said Luongo, "It's not broken, but it hurts when I breathe and it hurts when I move. It's tough to do your job under those circumstances."
That reminds me of what my mom used to say when I'd tell her something like, "My arm hurts when I do this" and I'd lift it up in the air or something. And she'd just calmly say, "Well, don't do that." I guess it's not that easy with Luongo. Breathing and moving is pretty important. If he's not in goal, it's too bad. Seeing him in the net the Ducks shoot at in the first period would provide a nice flashback of this moment.
The Canucks are also probably missing center Brendan Morrison, whose has a wrist injury and was sent home yesterday for treatment. If he doesn't play, it will break his streak of 542 straight NHL games.
Speaking of such streaks, Andy McDonald will play in his 276th straight game tonight, breaking Sammy Pahlsson's team record. Sammy snapped his streak when he was recovering from hernia surgery at the beginning of this season.
Yesterday the Canucks called up winger Mason Raymond, who just happened to be the subject of a joke on last Monday's episode of How I Met Your Mother, one of my favorite shows. The character Robin, who is Candian, told a story about going on a date to a Rangers game. “I got to meet Mason Raymond,” she said, to which her friends gave her blank stares. “The Canucks left wing.” Still no response. Finally, Barney (played by Neil Patrick Harris) said, “Is that the opposite of name dropping?”
Last night, former Duck Joffrey Lupul had a hat trick and three assists for Philadelphia in their 8-2 demolishing of Pittsburgh. After the game, Versus rinkside reporter Chris Simpson asked Lupul, "Have you ever had a game like that?" I'm sure Lupul wanted to say something like, "Uh yeah, Chris. I once had four goals in a playoff game, the last one being the game-winner in overtime. Thanks for paying attention. You are a hockey reporter, right?"
Instead, he politely replied, "No, although I did have a four-goal game once." Anyway, good for Joffrey. He had a tough time in Edmonton and it's nice to see him getting on track. The Ducks play his Flyers in Philly on Feb. 2 and they'll be coming to Honda Center ... um ... maybe sometime in 2009.
By the way, if you're planning on hitting the Rose Parade on New Year's Day, we just found out the city of Anaheim will present the Stanley Cup in it this year. It will be the first time the Cup will appear in the 119-year history of the Rose Parade.
Updated Dec. 11 at 5:49 p.m.
I don't know why this picture freaks me out. It just does.
Updated Dec. 11 at 3:57 p.m.
A couple of updates. Scott Niedermayer is listed as "doubtful" for tomorrow's game, and as I write this, the Ducks still haven't made a trade to make room for him.
Most importantly, Dad is fighting a cold, so The Golden Compass is out for tonight.
Finally, a reader has passed along this very nice story about Drew Miller that was posted on ALLDUCKS.COM, a Ducks message board. You've got to love Drew.
Updated Dec. 11 at 12:38 p.m.
Think Corey Perry's having a decent year? Last night's two goals give him 17 on the season, matching the career high he had last year in 82 games. We've got 50 games to go in this season.
Just as importantly, he drew a hooking penalty on Blue Jacket Duvie Westcott in overtime that opened the door for Chris Pronger's goal. It was a nice shot by Pronger, but give credit to Columbus d-man Adam Foote's stick and Todd Bertuzzi's screening of goalie Pascal Leclaire on the play.
That power play goal was the third of the game for a Ducks team that ranked 26th in the league on the man advantage coming into the game. Not surprisingly, it's the third time they've had three PP goals in a game this year.
Ironically enough, Perry was benched in the third period of the Nashville loss Saturday night for taking too many penalties. Randy Carlyle's response about Perry's rebound was simple. "That," Carlyle said, "is a guy getting it."
Of course, it's still slightly frustrating that it wasn't exactly a penalty-free night for the Ducks. They still took a whopping 12 minors, allowing in two power play goals on nine Columbus opportunities. But J.S. Giguere had another solid night (32 saves) and Samuel Pahlsson converted on his first career penalty shot in his seven-year career. I was surprised to hear he'd never attempted one before, which was even more surprising when we saw that slick move he made on Leclaire. Is there anything Sammy can't do? Carlyle might want to call his number in a shootout sometime soon.
Moving on, it wouldn't be a full day if we didn't have something to say about Scotty. We've just gotten word that he definitely will NOT play Wednesday night, and that it's either going to be Friday against Minny or Sunday against San Jo.
Meanwhile, audio of Scotty's stint on the Duck Calls with Josh Brewster postgame show is available here.
In case you missed it, Vancouver, which is playing here tomorrow night in the sixth game of their mammoth eight-game road trip, fell to the Kings 4-2 last night. One thing I forgot to mention last week was the Kings' 8-2 dismantling of Buffalo a night after we beat the Sabres. Kind of took the luster off our Buffalo win, didn't it?
We're possibly expecting word on a trade later today, but who knows if it will happen. Keep checking back on the home page to see what might have gone down.
One last thing. I'm going to see The Golden Compass tonight, since my uncle did the visual effects on it. Anybody see it? What did you think? Email me.
Updated Dec. 10 at 1:22 p.m.
It feels like it's been quite awhile since I've posted something on here, so let's get to it. Starting from the beginning, tremendous win for the Ducks on Friday night against a young and very talented Chicago team. The Ducks showed that they are becoming much more resilient than they were at the early part of this season. In the first two periods, they let in early goals to put themselves in a hold, but they came back to pull of a rather convincing victory. J.S. Giguere helped with his season-high 39 saves and the Ducks only took three minors the entire contest.
The next night in Nashville was a whole different story, as the Ducks took a shocking 11 penalties, not including the two fighting majors, and Corey Perry was benched for the third period after his slashing penalty wiped out a Ducks power play near the end of the second. It was a disappointing follow-up to a satisfying victory the night before (and two nights prior to that). But the second game of a back-to-back is often a crapshoot, and we'll see how the Ducks respond tonight against a team they've had a surprisingly tough time with the last couple of years. That includes the last game there, on Oct. 5, when the Ducks were short-handed 11 times and gave up three goals on the power play. That was during a tough road stretch coming out of London.
Giguere will most likely be in goal again tonight, a luxury the Ducks didn't have in that last game in Columbus, nor in Nashville on Saturday.
On the Scotty front, we still haven't heard officially whether he's coming back Wednesday night or Friday night (or later). We also aren't hearing who will be dealt to make room for him. But it is encouraging to hear that the Ducks only need to clear about $880,000 in salary, after many had thought the figure was closer to $3 million.
Speaking of Scotty, he will be the guest tonight on the postgame radio show, Ducks Calls with Josh Brewster, on AM 830. You can call in and ask Scotty a question at 877-8-830-830.
In case you haven't already seen it, Randy Youngman's column in today's OC Register includes his takes on who the Ducks might deal to make room for Scotty, along with some ideas about the status on the other semi-retired guy. Remember him?
Moving on, a reader named Bryan has sent me a link to this video involving Dominik Hasek. This is certainly not something you see every day. You know what the second-best part of this video is? The fact that you can hear the stadium sound system playing "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly after it happens. Genius. I also like that the announcers are going crazy over the tripping call. Talk about losing perspective, fellas.
On a non-Ducks note, I am very much looking forward to tomorrow's s episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. They're introducing a whole new "housewife" named Quinn Fry, a 51-year-old who is currently juggling relationships with a 40-year-old and a 26-year-old. But, according to an article in the OC Register, " she doesn't think she's a 'cougar'."
Okay, if you say so.
"I'm not going to put all my eggs in one basket," she says. "There's just so much variety out there." She also apparently says she divorced her second husband because she "wasn't feeling the love."
God bless her. And God bless that show.
Updated Dec. 7 at 11:49 a.m.
It will be very interesting to see how the Ducks come out tonight against a young and rising Chicago team. The Ducks looked as good as they have all season Wednesday night, but we all know that the road is a different story, especially for this year's team.
It's been almost surreal to realize that Scott Niedermayer is coming back to this team within the next week or so. This season has rolled on for more than two months without him, and we'd pretty much gotten used to that situation. But to see him in that press conference yesterday talking to the media about his comeback was a welcome site. Scotty clearly doesn't love doing these press conferences, and I'm sure the thought of doing that yesterday was one of the "negatives" he wrote down on his metaphoric yellow pad with the line drawn down the middle of it.
One of the things he stressed yesterday, that we all have to remember, is that his return alone isn't going to turn things around. “I don’t think one player is going to make all the difference," he said. "Not even Gretzky — well, maybe Gretzky could have. For us it took 20 of us to win the Stanley Cup last year and that’s what it’s going to take this year.”
Wait a minute. Are we getting Gretzky too?
In all seriousness, he makes a good point, but his presence on the ice does make a difference for those other 19 guys, or the other skaters out there with him. It's not just about knocking pucks away from opposing forwards or wristing in the occasional power play goal. It's the little things that don't show up in the highlights, like making pinpoint passes out of the Ducks zone and up the ice, holding the puck, finding the open man, not losing it under pressure, clearing it on the penalty kill, being a leader in the dressing room. Niedermayer has earned the ultimate compliment an athlete can have -- something that's been bestowed upon guys like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Tom Brady: He makes the guys around him better.
So, he's right. One player can't make the difference. It is up to the group of 20. But each of those other 19 are just a little stronger with him around.
Another sentiment Scotty expressed yesterday was regret about the effect his indecision had on the team and the people around it. It's a genuine concern, especially from someone who has been nothing but a "team guy" his whole career. "I know it caused a lot of frustration, probably a lot of questions, a lot of unknowns for a lot of people involved with the team," Niedermayer said. "I apologize for that because that's definitely not what I intended."
By the way, David from duckswire.com has posted video on YouTube of Scotty skating at Anaheim Ice yesterday. It's not exactly the most riveting video in the world, but here it is anyway.
During a conference call yesterday, Brian Burke was inevitably asked about Teemu Selanne's status, and Burke referenced the recent birth of a daughter to Teemu and wife Sirpa. “The only place we’ve seen Teemu is on a milk carton,” Burke said. “I imagine hockey is the last thing on his mind. We congratulate him on the baby and we hope she looks like Sirpa. But mostly we hope that baby cries a lot.”
I just want to remind everyone that we have a transcript and video from Scotty's press conference.
By the way, I'm looking forward to coming back here tomorrow for the John Wooden Classic, starting at noon. It should be a good game between UCLA and an underrated Davidson team that has given both Duke and North Carolina a tough time this year. Saint Mary's and San Diego state face off in the first game. Tickets are still available for both, so snatch them up if you're interested.
If I'm not back on here the rest of the day, everyone had a great weekend.
Updated Dec. 6 at 2:26 p.m.
It's been a pretty busy day here in Ducks land, so I haven't had a chance to comment on a Wednesday night that represented one of the best days for the Ducks since this season started.
First was the official announcement that 27 would be coming back to the team. That was soon followed by a Ducks performance that almost said, "We don't need him." I'm kidding about that, but it could probably be argued that last night was the best the Ducks have played all season. It was something Brian Burke today called, "back to Ducks hockey."
The Ducks had pretty goals, they had forecheck, they had great special teams play (two power play goals scored and none given up in four opportunities), they had fighting and, best of all, they had a convincing victory over a red-hot Buffalo team. Time will only tell if the Scotty development plus that win will be a springboard for the Ducks, as they head out for tough road games against Chicago, Nashville and Columbus, but it's certainly a good sign. No, it's a great sign.
I liked this quote from J.S. Giguere after the game: “Quite honestly, I think we’re sick of having meetings. We’ve had meetings up the wazoo. It’s never fun having a meeting with the general manager. When Burkie gets mad, well, that’s all I can say about that.”
I wish I had been there for the "meetings up the wazoo" part. That sounds like it's that much funnier coming from a French-Canadian accent.
Back to Scotty, who skated at Anaheim Ice today and then met at length with the media. We'll have full coverage of that, including video and a transcript of his press conference, momentarily.
Switching gears, my busy day was slightly interrupted when I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. I picked it up anyway and it went something like this:
Me: This is Adam
Caller: Hi, Adam. Do you work for the Mighty Ducks?
Me: I work for the Anaheim Ducks
Caller: Whatever. [At this point I'm annoyed.] I work for the San Bernardino Police Department. [At this point I'm nervous.] We're looking to hire someone who used to work in your Team Store. Do you work in the Team Store?
Me: No, I don't. [At this point I'm relieved.] But I can transfer you to the person who does.
Then I thankfully transfer the call, as I mutter under my breath, "what a jerk" [only I didn't say "jerk"].
Again, we'll have more on Scotty for you in a bit.
Updated Dec. 5 at 2:46 p.m.
Okay, since the item about Scotty got kind of mixed in with everything else posted below, let me reiterate. Brian Burke will make an announcement at 6:30 tonight about Scotty. From what I'm told, he's coming back. Exactly when that will be, we don't know yet. But I can tell you from my gut feeling that it won't be on this upcoming road trip. I would guess Dec. 12 at Vancouver at the very earliest.
Speaking of semi-retired Ducks, Teemu Selanne and wife Sirpa just welcomed a new baby girl into the world. Veera Johanna Selanne was born at 12:23 p.m. today.
Updated Dec. 5 at 1:57 p.m.
My, how things can change in a year. Tonight's game between the Ducks and Sabres would have been a heck of a matchup last season, as both teams were the cream of the crop in their respective conferences. This year, each is adjusting to changes in their makeup and trying to make do. We know the Ducks situation, of course. The Sabres, meanwhile, have been dealing with the free agent departures of scorers Chris Drury (now with the Rangers) and Daniel Briere (
Because of that, Buffalo's rough start to the season wasn't much of a surprise, as they dropped 11 of their first 17. But while the Ducks are gripping as of late, Buffalo has come on, taking 6 of their last 7. Tonight is the first of three California games for them, and Ducks fans would love to ruin the start of their trip.
Speaking of successful teams last year, how 'bout those Senators? You know how misery loves company? Somehow in viewing Ducks' recent struggles, it makes me feel a little better that Ottawa has lost seven in a row. Of course, the fact that they started the year a ridiculous 13-1-0 puts them in a little better position.
I'll be interested to see if new Ducks call-up Geoff Platt gets on the ice tonight. Platt was lighting it up in Portland before the Ducks brought him in, scoring seven goals and 16 points in just nine games.
By the way, you've got to love Todd Marchant's memory and match skills. Marchant, it was reported, was not pleased about being a healthy scratch Sunday night against Edmonton. He was asked by reporters at practice yesterday if he could remember the last time he was scratched. He quickly replied, "What's 915-minus-180? Seven thirty-five. Seven-hundred some games." He remembered that the last time was when he was with Edmonton. It reminded me of a story I did last year in which I asked every player their best playoff memory and Marchant, almost before I finished the question, blurted out, "Game 8 in 1997 with Edmonton when I had the overtime winner."
Now, let me mix in the biggest development of the day. Word has it there will be a press conference tonight at Honda Center just before the game in which Brian Burke will announce ... something. We will report on that press conference immediately after it's complete and let you know what the announcement is. Spoiler alert: I'm told Scotty's' coming back.
Shifting gears, I know I keep saying I'll stop mentioning Ilya Bryzgalov in this space, but there is too much good material to resist. The Phoenix Coyotes have a poll on their website that lets you vote for the best nickname for Bryzgalov. Here are the choices and the results so far:
The "Bryz-Co" Kid 11.67%
The "Bryz-Lin" Wall 21.67%
"Nobody Beats The Bryz" 12.50%
Just Bryz isn't good enough? Tremendous.
Updated Dec. 4 at 5:26 p.m.
Well, just when I thought I didn't have much for you today, here comes a story on TSN.ca saying "Sources close to [Scott] Niedermayer suggest he is prepared to return to [the Ducks] in the near future."
Here's my gut feeling. You'll hear something about this -- either yes or no -- within the next couple of days.
Updated Dec. 4 at 3:16 p.m.
The Ducks were back at it today, practicing this morning at Anaheim Ice, since Honda Center is being taken up by the Andre Rieu concert. I'm not really sure who Andre Rieu is, but I imagine he's pretty popular.
Anyway, the talk at practice today was about the Ducks-Sabres matchup, in which Drew Miller faces brother Ryan for the first time as professionals. We'll have a feature on that later this afternoon.
In case you didn't notice, the Kings took the Oilers to a shootout last night, before eventually losing, 4-3. That just makes us feel worse about the last two games.
Other than that, I really don't have much for you right now. How 'bout that Patriots game last night?
Updated Dec. 3 at 3:54 p.m.
I really don't know that I can say anything about the last two games that Ducks fans haven't been muttering to themselves already. Too many penalties, not enough scoring, too many acts of frustration, too many questionable calls, too many average former Kings goalies stopping pucks like they're Marty Brodeur, too many former Ducks scoring goals off their face (one is too many), too much bad and not enough good.
Of course, you can't ask for much from a team that plays in three Canadian cities in four nights, then plays a Sunday game after getting into town early Saturday morning. It's a decent excuse, but the Ducks know they can and should play better.
"We have to realize that it's a game and we need to have fun," said J.S. Giguere after last night's game. "We're just not having fun right now."
But anyone who's played organized sports knows that winning leads to fun, not necessarily the other way around. I had a friend whose dad was the coach of his youth basketball team when my friend was 12 years old. The team was terrible, 0-9 going into the last game. Right before tipoff of that game, Coach/Dad huddled them together and said, "Boys, let's just have fun out there. And remember, losing isn't fun."
And these last two games certainly haven't been a barrel of laughs. This Ducks team lately has been tougher to figure out than Bush's foreign policy (no emails, please). They get blown off the ice in Vancouver, then come back two days later and bounce a decent Calgary squad on the road, while not playing their best hockey. Things are looking up, right? Wrong. The Ducks then they go and lose twice in three nights to a very average Edmonton team by a combined score of 9-1.
You have to believe this team will recover, though it's not getting any easier anytime soon. The Ducks have a Buffalo team here Wednesday that has suddenly won six of its last seven. Then it's a trip to play up-and-coming Chicago and Nashville (7-3-1 at home) on consecutive nights. That's followed two nights later by a trip to Columbus, another team that is like Edmonton for the Ducks -- they're not that good, but Anaheim has trouble with them.
So, it wasn't a pretty scene at Honda Center last night, with noticeable booing (and it wasn't just for Penner), along with several early exits in the middle of the third. But it's always nice to have a reminder that things could have been worse (be patient and wait for the ad to finish).
By the way, in case you need a reminder, the link to the movie ideas is in the post below this one. I was surprised to see I didn't get too many emails about the listing, which I thought had a lot of laughs in it. I did get two emails about whether the word is spelled "adieu" or "ado" in the phrase "without further ado" that messed up my head so much I ended up just taking the whole thing out.