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(All times Pacific unless otherwise noted.)
Updated November 29 at 12:34 p.m.
We had a shining example over the weekend of why the NHL Entry Draft works: The top pick of the 2005 draft, somebody named Sidney Crosby, had a hat trick for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-1 win over Calgary on Saturday night (which also just happened to be on Hat Night in Pittsburgh ... for the second straight year). And on that very same night, the second pick in that draft, Bobby Ryan, happened to have a hat trick for the Ducks in Phoenix.
The second one is the one we really care about, especially since it paced the Ducks to an important 6-4 win over the Coyotes that snapped a six-game losing streak for Anaheim and a seven-game victory run for Phoenix.
Ryan's first goal came at an absolutely huge time, less than a minute after the Ducks had gone down two goals midway through the second period and the "here we go again" thoughts had crept into Ducks fans' minds. Ryan was able to bang home a rebound to make it just a one-goal game, then got his second one just a few minutes later on what was without question the turning point in the game.
Wojtek Wolski looked like a cinch to give Phoenix its two-goal cushion back when he had a shot at a wide open net after getting Hiller down and backhanded it off the outside of the post. Seconds later, the puck squirted to Ryan, who dragged it with him to get on a breakaway and wrist it past Ilya Bryzgalov. (I screamed something like this alone in my living room during that sequence: "Bobby! ... YES!!!")
It was a huge goal made even huger by the fact that the Ducks haven't seem to be able to buy a breakaway goal in the last few games. And then Ryan did it again with 11:45 left in the third, artfully getting in front of Ed Jovanovski then fooling Bryzgalov by deking to the backhand before sending it through. The look of pure jubilation on Ryan's face is priceless on this video, as is Johnny Ahlers call, "and Bobby Ryan gets a step on Jovanovski, he's in ... HAT TRICK!!"
Ahlers later said, "That's a way to protect a lead ... add to it," something that became important when Scottie Upshall made it a two-goal game with a little under six minutes left, but that was as close as the Coyotes would come.
Ryan's hattie overshadowed the fact that Brandon McMillan got his first career goal, off a nice pass by Ryan Getzlaf, to give the Ducks their first lead. It was one of four points on the night by Getzlaf, who had been struggling during the Ducks' recent skid.
Anaheim faces another critical divisional matchup tonight at Honda Center, as the Kings come down the freeway for a visit. The Kings have cooled off after a blazing 12-3 start, having lost five of their last six entering tonight.
Teemu Selanne, who has missed the last two games with a groin strain, told reporters yesterday that “I’m counting myself in,” though Randy Carlyle wouldn't confirm that with the media this morning. Selanne also said yesterday, according to the OC Register, "today I’m 90 (percent). I’m expecting tomorrow 95, and that’s good enough.”
Carlyle also said that Lubomir Visnovsky (back spasms) has "issues with mobility" and will be a game-time decision tonight.
If you're not here at Honda Center, you'll want to watch the game on KDOC to 1. Get the Ducks announcers; and 2. Play the Mystery Duck game for your chance to win a luxury suite to the next Ducks-Kings game, a Ducks autographed jersey or 4 lower level tickets to the next Ducks-Kings game.
"It feels pretty good," Lupul said of the goal. It's been a year since I've scored a goal. I've never gone that long without a goal in my life for sure, and hopefully I don't have to again."
Lupul hasn't played an NHL game since last December 8 after undergoing back surgery and getting an infection that kept him off the ice for a long period of time. He was playing his second game with the Crunch and is allowed to play one more AHL game, after which the Ducks can either recall him or apply for a two-game extension.
"I was pretty frustrated for a while," Lupul said on Sunday. "You can't help but let some negative thoughts get in your head, like what if your career is done, so just to be back here playing is pretty special, first of all. Obviously I'm working towards the goal of getting back to the NHL. It's nice being back on the ice and being back part of a team. Obviously, most of these guys I know, so it's nice to be back and be out there competing."
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Updated November 24 at 11:58 a.m.
With the last two days off from practice, it feels like an eternity since we last saw the Ducks around here, since they suffered another frustrating loss last Sunday against Edmonton. That 3-2 defeat came on an evening when the Ducks went over 40 shots for the second straight game, the first being a 50-shot bonanza two nights prior in a 4-3 loss to Columbus.
Eternity or not, what hasn't changed in the last few days is that the Ducks are mired in a five-game losing streak, which ironically comes in the wake of a six-game winning streak. (Hey, 6-5-0 in your last 11 -- that's not too bad, right?) And just because the Ducks weren't on the ice for the last couple of days doesn't mean there hasn't been plenty going on around here.
In the last few days, Dan Sexton, Nick Bonino and Brandon McMillan have flown cross-country to Syracuse and back again. Danny Syvret and Rob Bordson were dealt for Philadelphia for two wingers. Ryan Carter was traded for two prospects. Defenseman Nigel Williams was acquired from the New York Rangers for defenseman prospect Stu Bickel. Josh Green was sent to Syracuse. And our staff built a gingerbread replica of Honda Center.
(Okay, that last one's not so important.) Of all the moves, the one that probably had the biggest impact on Ducks fans is the Carter trade to Carolina. The 27-year-old Carter had been with the Ducks since playing a couple of games during the '07 Cup run (and got his name etched on that bad boy) and is one of the nicest kids you'll ever want to meet. But on a forward-heavy Ducks team, he had trouble fitting into the team's plans, having played just 3:42 in his last game here on Sunday night, with only one shift in the third period.
Carter was put on waivers again on Monday, and after he cleared, he was sent to Carolina (joining former teammate Troy Bodie) for
22-year-old center Stefan Chaput and 21-year-old winger Matt Kennedy. Both players were with the Charlotte Checkers (another awesome AHL team name) at the time of the deal and are reporting to Syracuse as we speak. For Carter, it's a change of scenery and a chance to earn full-time minutes. For the Ducks, it's a couple of possibilities at forward for the future.
Another of those possibilities came via trade yesterday as well, as the Ducks swapped minor league d-men by dealing Stu Bickel to the Rangers for Nigel Williams. The 22-year-old Williams was once a second-round pick of the Avalanche back in '06, and had played 12 games this season with the Connecticut Whale, which just changed its name from the Hartford Wolfpack this season (I ... did not know that).
Back on Sunday, the Ducks made a deal before the Edmonton game, getting wingers Patrick Maroon and David Laliberte from the Flyers in exchange for Syvret and Bordson. The 24-year-old Laliberte had played 18 games with Philadelphia's AHL affiliate in Adirondack, scoring eight points. He played in 11 games (including one playoff game) for the Flyers last season. The 22-year-old Maroon is a big guy (6-4, 225) who played in nine games with the Phantoms this season, scoring 5-3=8 points before being dismissed from the team for unspecified reasons.
Bob Murray talked to media about the deal just before puck drop on Sunday, and said about Maroon, "We did our homework and went back to talk with the people where he played junior. We did some checking. In this business, he deserves a second chance and he is getting it. I’m sure the young man knows that. I fully expect him to keep on the straight and narrow here."
Maroon himself talked to Lindsay Kramer of the Post-Standard in Syracuse and said about his reputation: "I just have to prove people wrong, that's not me. Make the coach say, I'm not that bad of a guy. I just have to make an impression off the bat. It's not a reputation I want to have ... I think I'm a good guy on and off the ice. Whatever happened in the Flyers organization is over now. I just have to overcome it. I'm excited to meet everyone, all the guys. Hopefully, I can fit in.''
Reputation or not, Maroon is a guy who once had 90 points in 64 games with the London Knights of the OHL in 2007-08. (Corey Perry, by the way, once had 130 points in 64 games for that very same team.) Maroon had 11 goals and 33 assists last season for Adirondack and 23 goals and 31 assists the season before with the Philadephia Phantoms.
So, the Ducks make some moves for the future, but in the present they're looking at a Friday matinee rematch with what has become their traditional day-after-Thanksgiving opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks. And there is the business of snapping this five-game losing strea. The Ducks get back to work this afternoon at Anaheim ICE in preparation for that game, in which the team will reveal its brand new third jerseys (sorry that link doesn't show what they look like).
The Ducks will take the ice for warmups in their traditional jerseys, then will switch to the new ones and reveal them when they come out for gametime. That will happen at approximately 1:04 p.m., so if you're going to be here, don't be late.
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As you can imagine, some of the cards are better than others, with George Parros' being a personal favorite (somehow he incorporates a flawless cartoon elephant). Here are a couple of samples from Todd Marchant and Toni Lydman. (Click the image for a larger version.)
The cards will be sold outside Section 212 at Honda Center on a first come, first served basis.
Updated November 19 at 2:48 p.m.
It was one of those times when I'm standing in the hallway in the basement of Honda Center, waiting for Randy Carlyle to emerge for his traditional pregame media session. One of our Ducks broadcasters happened to be standing next to me near the coffee station, and without having any other conversation-starter on my mind, I said something like, "Big one tonight, huh?"
Without hesitation he replied, "They're all big."
Of course he's right. There aren't too many games on the schedule, especially in November, where you say, "Eh, we can take or leave this one." And tonight is no exception.
The Ducks are coming off a road trip where they underachieved, getting two points in three games where they could have easily had at least twice that amount. Now they're at home, a place they've been great this season with five straight wins and a 7-1-1 record overall. But they're welcoming a Columbus team that has gotten pretty darn comfy in other teams' barns. The Jackets are 5-1-0 on the road this season, an impressive number that becomes jaw-dropping when you take into account that they're just 5-5-0 in Columbus. Two nights ago they handed the Kings their first loss of the year at Staples Center, Columbus' first game after suffering a 5-1 defeat to Colorado at home. (Info courtesy of the Blue Jackets website, the 13th team site this year to use the headline DUCK HUNTING for its game preview story.)
Here's what Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch wrote about them in today's edition:
If you can't get a read on the Blue Jackets, don't feel bad. One-fifth of the way into the season, coach Scott Arniel feels the same way.
"Style of play? I don't even know if I could describe our team right now," Arniel said yesterday, as the Blue Jackets prepared to play the Anaheim Ducks tonight. "I don't know if we're a speed team or a grinding team. Every night we've seen something different, which I guess is a good thing.
"Every team that's trying to pre-scout us and get a good read on us, good luck with that."
The Ducks fell 3-1 in Columbus on October 20, but those were the October Ducks, who seem to be a very different team than the November Ducks. Tonight, those Ducks start a comforting stretch in which they play seven of the next eight at home (the only outlier being a trip to Phoenix a week from tomorrow.)
It's possible the Ducks could get a couple of key vets back during that stretch, as both Kyle Chipchura (concussion) and Andy Sutton (broken thumb) are back skating with the team, and both might be available as soon as next week. Bob Murray, speaking to the OC Register about their impending return -- as well as that of Joffrey Lupul, who's been skating the past couple of weeks -- said, "The good news is that Chipchura, Sutton and Lupul are all getting much closer. Once they have clearance to play, we will have to create roster spots, but we haven’t made any such decisions yet.”
If you haven't seen it yet, the latest edition of Ducks Digest is available online, including a pretty cool Q&A with Cam Fowler, that also includes some input from his dad, Perry. Click here and go to page 10.
By the way, we took some pictures today of players taking part in Movember, to record their moustache progress, and we'll be posting those later. (Still waiting to shoot one of Perry because no set of Ducks moustache photos would be complete without Perry.) Fowler barely has anything going above his lip and when I said I needed a picture of his moustache, he said, "I hope that's a hi-resolution camera."
It is, but I don't think that's going to help.
Updated November 18 at 1:07 p.m.
My thoughts after I got over the shock of Antii Miettinen somehow finding the net in overtime last night: What a lousy way to lose a hockey game.
By all means, Anaheim's 2-1 overtime defeat to the Wild in Minnesota shouldn't have been a 2-1 overtime defeat to the Wild in Minnesota. The Ducks did seemingly everything they could in the late going to break open a 1-1 tie, outshooting the Wild by a glaring margin of 16-2. But they couldn't manage to get anything past Nicklas Backstrom, while the Wild -- who don't play the most crowd-pleasing style in the world -- did little to threaten on the other end of the rink.
But just when it looked like the game might be headed for an inevitable shootout, Miettinen won it with 1:24 left in OT in unorthodox fashion. Miettinen's bid off a rebound was saved nicely by Ducks goalie Curtis McElhinney, but the puck hit Miettinen in the shoulder and caromed into the net. (I'm sure I'm not the only Ducks fan who was thinking, That did NOT just happen.)
As a result, the Ducks got only a point on a night that Randy Carlyle called "our best game on the road trip." Said the coach to reporters afterward, "We dug down deep and found some energy in the second and third periods.”
It was a tough way to go for McElhinney, who looked sharp with 25 stops on the night. And you could see on the broadcast Jason Blake putting an arm around McElhinney and going nose-to-nose with him to console him after he had dropped his head as he headed off the ice.
"Basically," McElhinney said, "we gave a nice effort and got beat on a bounce.”
“Our goaltenders have been keeping us in games,” Cam Fowler told the OC Register. “It’s a shame we haven’t been able to reward them with a win. It’s tough to keep losing games this late in overtime.”
That was the second overtime loss for the Ducks on a three-game trip in which they took just two points, but could have easily had more. Bottom line, they just didn't score enough goals (only four on the whole trip). “There wasn’t much traffic on our part, and I’m not sure how many good scoring chances we’ve had," Carlyle said. "That’s something we’ve gotten away from, getting people in front of the net.”
The Ducks were off today after getting back from that whirlwind trip in the dead of night. They'll get it going again tomorrow, this time vs. Columbus at home, where the Ducks are 7-1-1 and riding a five-game win streak.
Every year I have my kids do a project for Thanksgiving. They have to write a story about a turkey that disguised itself and managed to escape becoming Thanksgiving dinner. They then have to decorate a turkey to match their stories.
Ryan, my big hockey fan, brought this in today....
Updated November 17 at 2:02 p.m.
There wasn't a whole lot to smile about for the Ducks last night in Dallas (read below), but this moment early in the third period was certainly worth a chuckle. Watch how Corey Perry misses on a check and sends himself into the Anaheim bench, then just decides to stay there, much to his own amusement. The best part may be the moment at the end of the clip The Kid's face lights up with geniune laughter.
Updated November 17 at 12:21 p.m.
It's one of the oldest cliches in the book: [INSERT NAME OF SPORT HERE] is a game of inches.
Pretty much every sport is a game of inches, but that saying certainly applied to last night's Ducks-Stars tilt in Dallas.
- 14:31 into the first: Todd Marchant forces his way into a shorthanded breakaway, but can't lift the puck high enough with the backhand as Kari Lehtonen just barely snatches it with his glove. Dallas' Steve Ott scores the game's first goal 12 seconds later.
- 8:24 into the third: Brad Richards fires a shot off left wing that hits the post, hits Jonas Hiller in the back and floats just inches over the stripe, before he can quickly cover it. Replay review ultimately showed it was clearly a goal.
And that was pretty much your hockey game.
Sure, there were a few other instances of an inch or two either way deciding that one last night, including Teemu Selanne's shot off the post during a first period rush, Lehtonen stoning Bobby Ryan at the end of that period and the flurry of shots the Ducks put on net with the extra attacker in the last minute. Either way, it was a tough loss to take for the Ducks, especially since they had a ton of opportunities to get more than just the lone Corey Perry goal. That one came on the only successful power play for Anaheim, which got little going on its other five opportunities with the extra man. Essentially, it was a little too much cuteness and not enough firing the puck.
"We had our fair share of chances," Randy Carlyle told the media afterward. "It wasn't like we were devoid of chances. We came up empty. Even more so, we had lots of good chances on our power play, too. ... We're just not really sharp offensively. We got to think `shoot more,' be a little more selfish."
Oh, how things can change quickly in this game. In the last three days, the Ducks have gone from white hot to trying to pick their game up, after falling in overtime in Chicago and losing to a Dallas team that they had overpowered in each of the first two meetings (combined score of 9-4).
The good news is, the Ducks have a chance to make it all better tonight in Minnesota. (Well, good if you don't consider the fatigue factor of traveling to Chicago, then Dallas, then back up north to Minneapolis in a span of four days.) The Wild (8-6-2) have played four fewer games than the Ducks and haven't suited up since a 4-1 win in Tampa Bay on Sunday.
ESPN.com is calling this matchup between two potential Western Conference playoff teams its NHL Game of the Week, while Barry Melrose declares the Ducks "probably the third or fourth best team in the West" in this video.
And that's not the only love the Ducks are getting this morning, as NHL.com posted a video entitled "Why Anaheim can win the Cup." Take a look:
Updated November 16 at 1:58 p.m.
Today's edition of What's Up with the Ducks? is brought to you by this word:
It's undoubtedly the first time I've used a six-syllable word in this space (unless you count a French-Canadian defenseman's last name or something), but it's exactly what the Ducks are looking for after, by their own admission, they've been short on energy lately. That was evident two nights ago in Chicago, when the Ducks' six-game winning streak was snapped, but they were still able to salvage a point in an overtime loss.
“It was pretty easy and pretty evident when we watched the game the other night in Chicago that we did a lot of things that we haven’t done in a while,” Carlyle said in Dan Wood's report from Dallas. “We looked like we were a flat hockey club and a tired hockey club. That’s not making excuses. That’s just the way we felt.”
The plane ride from Chicago to Dallas was apparently full of sleeping Ducks, so Carlyle elected to cancel Monday's practice and hold an off-ice workout in the hotel gym. “Everybody seemed a little dog-tired and down,” Carlyle told the O.C. Register. ‘We had to try to freshen our group up."
Starting with the Chicago game, the Ducks are facing a stretch of five games in eight days, and only one team (Chicago, actually) has played more than Anaheim's 19 games over the season's first 40 days. Meanwhile, the Ducks face a Dallas team tonight that (get this) hasn't played since they lost to the Ducks 4-2 last Friday in Anaheim.
Todd Marchant (upper body injury), whose absence on the penalty kill Sunday was conspicuous by the fact the Ducks gave up two power play goals to the Hawks, was on the ice for the skate this morning and remains a game-time decision.
It's one of those "part of the business" things when your team loses a player who has been with the organization for a little while, and it's tough when it's a good guy like Troy Bodie, who was claimed on waivers overnight by Carolina. But Bodie wasn't able to get much ice time on a forward-packed Ducks team (scratched the last eight games) and he'll presumably get more of an opportunity with the Hurricanes.
Said Carlyle of Bodie this morning, "We thought Troy had made a real nice transition from an American Hockey League player to an NHL player last year,” Carlyle said. “And he just didn’t seem to get on track. It’s not because of lack of effort because he’s a kid that tries day-in, day-out. It just wasn’t happening for him.
“He’s getting an opportunity to go to an organization that sees something in him. That’s all part of the process,” Carlyle said. “We have nothing but good things to say about Troy Bodie, the kind of individual he is and how hard he worked at it.”
Mark Whicker has a nice piece in today's OC Register on the young Ducks and their high uniform numbers, a story that was slightly superseded by today's announcement that Cam Fowler will switch to uniform number 4 starting with tonight's game in Dallas.(There goes the opportunity for my department to use any photos of him when he was wearing 54.)
FYI, past Ducks to wear 4: David Williams, Fredrik Olausson, Jamie Pushor, Antti-Jussi Niemi, Lance Ward, Todd Bertuzzi, Nick Boynton and Aaron Ward.
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Forgot to mention this yesterday, but voting for the NHL All-Star Game kicked off yesterday. Forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne are the Ducks on the ballot this year, which consists of 100 players. You can can vote for up to 3 forwards, 2 defensemen and 1 goalie, regardless of conference, or you can submit a ballot with as few as one player. You also have the ability to write-in player names that are not on the ballot (Jonas Hiller, Jonas Hiller, Jonas Hiller).
Vote online at vote.nhl.com or the NHL's Facebook page, or you can text a player's last name to 81812.
You can vote several times per day for your favorite players, something Ducks fans did in a major way two season ago, when they helped vote in Getzlaf, J.S. Giguere and Scott Niedermayer as starters.
Let's see if we can't get something going like that again. Vote now and vote often!
Updated November 15 at 11:38 a.m.
Normally, going into Chicago and getting a point would be pretty satisfying. But with the situation the Ducks were in, it kind of felt empty.
After all, the Ducks were going for a club record seventh straight win (hard to believe they didn't even win six straight during the Cup year) and caught a break when they got the Blackhawks on the second half of a back-to-back. But it was the Ducks who looked sluggish for much of the night, leading Randy Carlyle to say, "We didn't have very much energy tonight. We looked tired. We've played an awful lot of hockey, and we didn't look like we had the crispness, but we still found a way to get a point."
That they did, but man did it feel like they should have had twice that amount, especially with the number of times the Ducks have pulled out wins lately without their best stuff. And it seemed they were poised to do it yet again at the beginning of overtime, where the Ducks carried more than a minute of power play time after Tomas Kopecky's boarding penalty on Toni Lymdan late in regulation. But somehow the Ducks weren't able to get off a shot, and Chicago sealed it on Viktor Stalberg's redirect with just 28 seconds left in OT.
The Ducks might not have even been in that position if not for the two power play goals they gave up on the night, an almost shocking development for a team that had killed 17 straight penalties and 22 of 24 during this streak. Those two goals accentuated the absence of Todd Marchant, who has been so huge on the PK for the Ducks, but missed his first game of the year with an upper body injury.
Corey Perry (two goals) had another strong game, while Jonas Hiller did all he could in net (40 saves) despite the possibility that he might not play when he was struck below the left eye by a puck shot by Kyle Palmieri that somehow got through the cage of Hiller's mask. Hiller got four stitches at a local hospital, got the start and kept the Ducks in that game.
So, a tough loss, yes. But it's a point in a conference where points aren't that easy to come by. And with a trip down to Dallas and then back up to Minnesota over the next two nights, it won't get all that much easier.
Updated November 12 at 2:48 p.m.
Sometimes, when you think you're really paying attention, you realize you're not quite paying as much attention as you think.
That incredibly confusing sentence aside, I was reading an ESPN.com piece on the Ducks' resurgence today when something caught my eye, making me lean even closer to my monitor as if to verify it was true. Remember that awful 0-3 road trip to start the season (the trip we will heretofore refer to as The Trip That Never Happened)? Ever since then, the Ducks are a robust 9-4-1. That's right, I was surprised too.
Of course, a big part of that record is the five-game winning streak the Ducks are currently riding, which has them fifth in the Western Conference right now. Sure, they've played more games than everyone else in the West but Chicago, but after the way they started the season, who cares? Do you care? I don't care.
During Anaheim's five-game run, they have ... actually, there is no better way to write it than the way Pierre Lebrun did in that ESPN.com piece, so here goes:
The five-game win streak, a piece of art it is not. But that's OK. In a league in which teams have never been separated by so little, winning games like Tuesday night in San Jose when you're outshot 41-20 and Wednesday night at home against the Islanders when you're dog tired and muster only 14 shots on goal -- that's huge. Those are the points in the standings that make a difference at the end of the season.
Absolutely right, and the Ducks will try to do it again tonight against a Dallas team that, like the Ducks the other night, is playing the second of a back-to-back. Dallas lost a very physical battle to the Kings, 3-1 at Staples Center, with L.A. maintaining its perfect (7-0-0) record at home.
Dallas might be looking for a little payback tonight after the Ducks trounced them 5-2 in Dallas last October 26 (and then they play each other again there next week). The Stars are actually 3-1-1 in their last five in Anaheim.
Ryan Getzlaf, who skipped the on-ice portion of practice yesterday to rest the ankle he tweaked in San Jose on Tuesday, was back on the ice today for the morning skate (a little video of that here). And this morning when asked by OC Register writer Eric Stephens if Getzlaf was playing or not, Carlyle responded, "Nobody's told me any different."
Updated November 11 at 1:58 p.m.
Doesn't matter what cliche you use to describe it -- two points is two points, you never criticize a win, we'll take it, etc. -- but the fact remains the Anaheim Ducks yet again pulled off another victory in a game where they may not have been their best.
It was hardly pretty the way the Ducks edged the Islanders 1-0 last night at Honda Center, but Anaheim found a way to get it done in notching their fifth straight win. The effects of pulling off a hard-fought overtime win the night prior in San Jose showed early on, as the Ducks didn't even manage a shot on goal until Saku Koivu got one off shorthanded 18:14 into the first period. But the Islanders, who were well-rested after not having played a game since last Saturday, couldn't take advantage, thanks in part to a firm Ducks defense, a perfect 4-for-4 penalty kill and Curtis McElhinney's first career shutout.
Koivu had Anaheim's first shot and he had its most important, as he drilled a one-timer off a nice feed from The Kid to give the Ducks the only goal they would need.
Koivu pretty much spoke for the room when he said afterward, "Curtis played an unbelievable game for us. We didn’t play our best, but when you get two points that’s what matters at this point.
"For sure, we didn't play our best and we didn't get the shots we wanted. Even when you don't play your best, you try to find your way to win games."
The Ducks have done that a few times during this five-game winning streak -- winning when you aren't at your best. That's what good teams do, or as Teemu Selanne might say, "That's a good sign."
Randy Carlyle talked about the win today at the tail end of practice. "Last night was a challenge for us and we demonstrated we didn't have much energy in the first period. But once we got through that period, we were better. We said to ourselves, We have to be 10 percent better than we were in the first. And we were."
Carlyle also had good things to say about Luca Sbisa, who was inserted into the lineup not long after he arrived in Orange County following his recall from Syracuse. Sbisa, who was originally sent down to regain some of the confidence that even he admitted he'd lost in the early going, was a physical presence last night. (To wit, check out this beauty of a hip check on Jon Sim in the second period.) Carlyle said of Sbisa today, "I saw a confident hockey player. For whatever reason, out of training camp, he didn't perform to the level he expected or himself or we expected. What you saw last night was the Luca Sbisa that everybody projects ... We didn't see the physical element from him early in the season, but we saw that last night."
(I spent some time with Luca after practice and that interview is right here, which includes an interesting anecdote on how he found out he was being brought up this time.)
The Ducks practiced today at THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE without Ryan Getzlaf, who instead did some off-ice work to rest the ankle that he tweaked two nights ago, early in the third period against San Jose. Getzlaf played 15:47 last night (a bit under his average), but said last night he was feeling okay. "[It] was a little scary because I kind of felt the same way last year,” he told the OC Register. “It’s feeling good today and that’s what we were hoping for.”
Said Carlyle today, “We just use this as precautionary measure from the standpoint that we think it’s better for him to rest today and get treatment. Work out off the ice and we’ll make the decision tomorrow based upon how he tells us he is.”
Updated November 10 at 2:48 p.m.
Considering all the personnel shuffling the Ducks have done today (more on that later), last night's win in San Jose feels like it was ages ago. But that doesn't take away from how huge it was for the Anaheim Ducks.
I may have mentioned before in this space that I've never been an "at least we got a point" kind of guy, but I found myself feeling like that would have been plenty as the Ducks headed to overtime and later seemed destined for a shootout at the always-unfriendly HP Pavilion. But instead, the Ducks pulled off the second OH MY GOD!!! moment in the last two games (at least that's what I yelled both nights), when Lubomir Visnovsky somehow found the net with 32.6 seconds left in overtime to pull off the victory.
Lubo got most of the love after the goal, but it was some of the other guys on the ice who deserved credit as well. Saku Koivu outdueled Patrick Marleau to win the faceoff, getting it back to Visnovsky, who fired a shot through screens by both Toni Lydman and Corey Perry that gave goalie Antero Niittymaki absolutely no shot at seeing that puck. The ever-humble Visnovsky, of course, was quick to deflect the praise to his teammates.
"It was a great face-off," he said. "I stayed in my shooting lane and the goalie doesn't know where the puck is. The guys in front of me did a great job. I just shot the puck."
Another teammate who deserved some pats on the back was the guy at the complete other end of the ice when that puck touched twine, Jonas Hiller. The same guy who devastated the Sharks so many times in that '09 playoff series did it again last night, stopping 39 of 41 teal shots and helping to make the Ducks look anything but the team that lost 5-2 in that rink a week and a half prior.
“The difference," Randy Carlyle said, "was that we were involved in the hockey game from the word go."
Granted, the Ducks weren't perfect, just as they haven't been on a few occasions during this gratifying four-game winning streak. They took a couple of penalties in the third, the latter of which came back to bite them when Devin Setoguchi tied the game midway through the period as the Ducks had trouble clearing the puck on the PK. (The goal actually came after the penalty had expired, but the Ducks didn't have enough time to regroup.)
But once again, none of that seemed to matter when Visnovsky sealed the deal in OT. And while that goal was huge, it may have never happened if not for a major turn of the tables in the first period. Dany Heatley appeared to score to give San Jose a 2-0 lead early, but the goal was waved off as officials determined he knocked the puck to himself with a high stick. Not long after that, Jason Blake had a pretty deflection of a Lydman shot to make it 1-1. And midway through the next period, Perry did a nice job to spin and fire a backhand top shelf, his first goal since the last time the Ducks were in San Jose.
The Ducks haven't had a lot of time to savor the win, as they turn right around and face the struggling Islanders tonight at Honda Center. After going on a 4-1-2 tear to start the season, NYI has lost seven straight, giving up the first goal in each of those.
The Ducks got ready for them with an optional skate this morning, during which a few moves were made upstairs. Dan Sexton and Matt Beleskey, both of whom haven't played the last few games with injuries but appear ready to return to action, were both sent down to Syracuse. Said Carlyle of the move, "We felt that in the situation we're in, we have lots of bodies here and it would be best for those players to go down. Both players, if you look at the stats, they weren't having great starts. Beleskey had a great camp and then had a groin injury and had never really been able to get back up to speed. Sexton played a lot of hockey before he got hurt and he was zeroes across the board. We felt both players were best suited to go down and get their games turned around.
Later today, the Ducks recalled defenseman Luca Sbisa from Syracuse and sent fellow D Danny Syvret down there again. After playing just two games with the Ducks, Sbisa was sent down last month, after playing just two games with the Ducks, presumably to get some confidence back in his game. He may have done just that, scoring two goals and nine points in eight games back east.
Speaking of personnel, there is some thought that Curtis McElhinney would get the start tonight against the Isles, since Hiller was a workhorse less than 24 hours ago in San Jose. But as per usual, Carlyle wouldn't give any indication as to who his starter would be. "Come to the warmup," he said one more time.
There is extra motivation for fans in the building tonight to check out the warmup, as the Ducks will honor Military Appreciation Night by donning camouflage jerseys like this one. Some of those jerseys will be up for silent auction during the game (visit Fan Relations outside section 213 if you're interested). Proceeds from that auction, and one that will come later on AnaheimDucks.com, will benefit Operation Homefront and the Green Beret Foundation.
Updated November 9 at 3:24 p.m.
Yeah, this three-game winning streak has been really nice, but we'll really see what these guys have tonight.
For the second time in the last 10 days, the Ducks have a quick trip to San Jose sandwiched in as a short disruption to what would otherwise be a nice bunch of home games. Tonight they're once again playing against a team, and in a building, that hasn't been so friendly to them in the last year. Ever since the Ducks took down the Sharks in six games during the opening round of the '09 playoffs (a series in which Anaheim took two in San Jose), they have lost six of the last seven overall, and each of the last four in the Shark Tank. That includes a rough 5-2 loss last October 30 in which the Ducks trailed 5-0 at one point before adding a pair of too-little-too-late goals in the third.
Tonight, things are (hopefully) a little different. The Ducks appear to be playing much better hockey than they were in their last meeting with the Sharks, and San Jose is missing a pretty important piece tonight. Center Joe Thornton is out as he serves the second game of a two-game suspension handed out for his blindside hit on Blues winger David Perron last week. (Youngster Logan Couture is expected to replace Thornton on the top line with Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley.)
The Ducks are also, according to the OC Register, expected to start Jonas Hiller, who didn't play in the last game in San Jose since it was the second of a back to back.
And even more changes from the last time in SJ -- instead of practicing when they arrived in town, the Ducks instead went on a team bonding outing to a San Jose bowling alley called 300. Check out a few photos on our Facebook page.
“We just felt that it was time for a little bit of a different approach,” said Randy Carlyle, who didn't announce to the team they were bowling instead of skating until the team bus had left for the rink. “You can see off [today's] morning skate -- we’re a lot fresher. We feel a lot better about ourselves. It’s nice to be able to take a little time away.”
Todd Marchant bowled the high game with a 204, while the team of Parros/Getzlaf/Palmieri won the team competition. Cam Fowler, according to the OCR, rolled a 145. “Those U.S. college (players) took it (bowling) as a major,” said Carlyle. “Those are on the ones that are good bowlers. The Western Canada kids, they’re all good pool players.”
We'll see just how good they are at hockey in an important one tonight.
Updated November 8 at 10:45 a.m.
One thing a game-winning goal with 1.7 seconds left will do -- it'll make you forget.
Forget about the fact that the Ducks didn't play their best hockey last night, that they lost one-goal leads four different times -- and still they were able to pull off that 5-4 victory last night in thrilling fashion.
We were all set to see if the Ducks could get that first goal in overtime as the seconds on the big scoreboard clock crept down to triple-zero when something outrageous happened. Bobby Ryan turned around and saw a puck lying on the ice, so he made a desperate blind pass to the top of the crease, where a pinching Paul Mara was somehow there to one-time it through. That made the Honda Center crowd, many of which were already out of their seats to run for their bathroom break before the OT, go absolutely berserk! (I'm not a religious man, but I'm pretty sure I shouted "OH MY GOD!" at the top of my lungs from the press box.)
On the radio this morning, I heard a replay of Steve Carroll's call of the goal and it literally gave me chills (I know, I'm a sap). Take a listen.
"I knew going out we didn’t have a whole lot of time," Ryan said. "It worked out for the best. Paul made a great play jumping in with a nice finish. The defenseman was trying to cut across and just got a piece of it, maybe a little too much. It came right to me. Everything came just the way we needed to there."
Added Mara, "I looked up at the clock and I saw there were eight or nine seconds left. Bobby got it and I just kept jumping to the net. It was bouncing right there and I just put it into an empty net. It was a great play by those guys. I was just in the right place at the right time."
It was Mara's first goal as a Duck, and actually, his first since April 22, 2009, when he was with the Rangers, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Washington. And it took us awhile to confirm it, but it was the latest game-winning goal in regulation in Ducks history. (The previous best was five seconds remaining by Shaun Van Allen in 1995.)
“He’s such a smart player, he probably did see me, I’m not quite sure," said Mara of Ryan [Yeah, I'm not so sure about that myself.] "The way he sees the ice and his skill set, I’m sure he did see me. I was just lucky to be there and it’s good to get the win.”
And again, it was such an epic finish, it made it a little easier to forget that it probably shouldn't have come down to that in the first place. Each of the four times the Ducks took a one-goal lead, they allowed Nashville to come back and tie it. Thankfully, Mara's goal left no time for the Preds to do it a fifth time.
"It was an ugly game, certainly not one we want to put in the archives, that's for sure." Ryan said.
Randy Carlyle, in full "we never critizice a win" mode, said, "Two points is two points. We’re not going to lament any other part of it. It was one of those games that seemed like we had to work for every inch. Every time we got a lead, they came back. We sure kept the fans in the building."
That they did, and they also pulled off a third straight win, two nights after winning their second straight for the first time this season, against a better-than-their-record-indicates Pittsburgh team. That happened to be another game the Ducks pulled out without being at their sharpest. But then again, you know what kinds of teams win games like that? Good ones.
Teemu Selanne was on The Sports Lodge with Roger Lodge this morning on AM 830 and remarked that losing the lead four times last night was "obviously not in the gameplan." He also said this, "When you win a game where you don't play as strong as you know you can, it can bring a team together." (Listen to that whole interview here.)
Selanne was part of that old-but-speedy line with Saku Koivu and Jason Blake that had a heck of a game last night, with Koivu scoring two big goals and Selanne easily scoring just 52 seconds into the game when the Preds got caught with just four men on the ice. Koivu's two gave him 700 points in his career, while Selanne pulled into a tie for fifth in the NHL in scoring with 17 points. The second oldest player among the top 15 in the league is Joe Thornton at 31 years old. Selanne is 40.
Seriously, he's 40.
Thornton, by the way, won't be on the ice tomorrow night (as he's serving a two-game suspension) when the Ducks take on the Sharks in San Jose, a typically unfriendly locale they left for this morning.
Guess which uncle gave him this outfit last Christmas?
I guess he's finally grown into it.
Updated November 5 at 12:56 p.m.
A Ducks squad that hasn't gotten off to the start it expects of itself can get some empathy from tonight's opponent - the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Stanley Cup champions just a year and a half ago, the Penguins are off to a 6-6-1 start that has them a surprising eighth in the Eastern Conference. They've won just one of their past five games and are mired in (I'm nervous just writing this) 0 for 27 slump on the power play. Like the Ducks, the Pens have dealt with some injuries, as they just lost center Jordan Staal for six weeks to a broken hand. They did just get back defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who played in Wednesday night's 5-2 loss in Dallas after missing nine games. Sidney Crosby missed practice Thursday after getting in a fight with Matt Niskanen of the Stars on Wednesday night, a fight Crosby won decidedly. Asked why he wasn't on the ice yesterday, he said, according to the Penguins website, "Yeah, no it was nothing."
Apparently not. Crosby was out there for the team's skate this morning. So was winger Pascal Dupuis, who missed the Dallas game because his wife went into labor, but rejoined the team in Orange County late last night. He skated on a top line with Crosby and former Duck Chris Kunitz.
The Ducks, by the way, have lost the last four against Pittsburgh and have beaten them only once since the lockout. It remains to be seen who the Pens will go with in net, as their main man Marc-Andre Fleury has a 1-5 record with a 3.75 goals-against average, while backup Brent Johnson is 5-1 and 1.70.
Of course, the last time the Ducks faced a perennial Eastern Conference playoff contender that was off to a bad start, a week ago here against New Jersey, it resulted in a bitter 2-1 loss. In that game, the Ducks were coming off a satisfying win, a 5-2 decision in Dallas. Tonight, it's much of the same, as the team looks to build off the Tampa victory from two nights prior and get back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
“Obviously we’ve got to get rolling here,” Teemu Selanne said yesterday. “There’s a lot of positives we can take from (Wednesday) night. It can be very important. We have the feeling again that this is our barn, and we want to be a good home team. Tomorrow’s another chance. But we also know there’s room for improvement.”
Said Todd Marchant, "We’re looking to build something more than just two [wins]. You have to start looking at the standings now.”
It's Ducks-Penguins on a Friday night. Should be a beauty of a game.
George Parros' disappearing moustache has gotten coverage on the USA Today website (a story that includes my first ever photo on their site). The paper's NHL writer talked to George yesterday about shaving it off for "Movember" and got a few great responses from George. Among them:
- "It was totally hard to do it. I was totally conflicted. I really wasn't excited about it. If you read the email chains, I said I would love to support my mustachioed brothers, but I didn't want to shave it. But at the end of the day, I did it because it was for a good cause, and I wouldn't turn as many heads if I just supported the movement with my 'stache."
- On the 'stache that once was: "No one has ever ripped on it," Parros said. "I always say the mustache demands respect."
- "The big joke is I'm going to have to fight more because I don't look as tough."
- "I think by the end of the third week or the start of the fourth week, I should be back on track. But there are going to be some horrible, horrible stages coming up."
Updated November 4 at 10:24 a.m.
Last night was one of those reminders of what makes hockey -- heck, sports for that matter -- so great.
In taking down the Eastern Conference frontrunning Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in overtime, the Ducks got inspiration from a 40-year-old vet with 612 career goals and a 19-year-old rookie playing in the first NHL game of his life.
Teemu Selanne, who looked anything but 40 last night, had Anaheim's first goal and sped his way to the game-winning assist in overtime. An overtime that was forced when Kyle Palmieri, who looked anything but 19 last night, scored a monster goal with 4:20 to tie the game. That goal ignited a Honda Center crowd that had edged toward listlessness during a third period when the Ducks didn't get a whole lot going in looking to tie the game. But that all changed when Bobby Ryan barrelled down the left wing and slid a backhand pass through traffic to a waiting Palmieri, who dumped it into the open net.
Palmieri could hardly contain his excitement, nor could the rest of the Ducks, who desperately needed a spark to get into that game. There was a great shot during the telecast of Palmieri trying to hold his emotions afterward on the bench, when an unidentified Duck skated by and bonked him on the helmet with his stick. The little grin that snuck through got even wider as Palmieri scooted down the bench and got a congratulatory shoulder nudge by the conspicuously moustacheless George Parros. (Okay, maybe Palmieri kinda looked 19 at that point.)
"It was unbelievable," a widely grinning Palmieri said in the locker room afterward, just before posing for this standard photo. "I was so excited. The whole played seemed like it was slow developing. I saw the puck come across from Bobby. It squirted around to my stick. He banked it off me. I didn’t have to do much. To explain it, I really don’t have any words right now. It hasn’t really sunk in. Right now, I’m just excited.
"It was a dream come true. Even just being there and out on the ice, it was an honor. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid playing hockey back in New Jersey."
Yet despite the enormity of it, the Ducks weren't finished in the game, and it took the heroics of Selanne to pull off a thrilling victory the Ducks desperately needed. Selanne took matters into his own hands a few minutes into the extra session, blazing down the left wing and continuing behind the net before delivering a no-look backhand feed to the slot, where Ryan Getzlaf easily one-timed it home for the winner.
Selanne, who by all accounts was the best player on the ice last night, got the Ducks on the board first in the opening period, when he glided into the left wing circle and showed off those ungodly hands with a quick wrist shot that deflected off goalie Dan Ellis and got through.
Afterward, Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher was asked about Selanne. "He’s like … the Duracell battery?” he asked reporters. (He meant Energizer, but the point is still made.) "He keeps on going and makes it happen in the overtime. I’m not surprised it’s him. He’s a been great player. I’ve watched him play for a million years now and I think it’s good for the game that he’s still playing.”
Not for nothin', but at 40 years old Selanne currently leads the league in power play goals, is tied for fifth in goals and fourth in points.
And though he's seen his share of big wins, he put the proper value on this one last night, a nice little comeback over a very talented Tampa team to snap a two-game losing skid. “We needed these two points for sure,” Selanne said. “Whatever we can do to get our confidence a little higher is going to be huge. I think this is going to help us for sure. Good win.”
Said Todd Marchant after today's practice, "It was a big boost for our team. You can just feel it in the room today too. It carried over.”
If you haven't seen it yet, the second in a series of Ducks Dedication promos aired last night. This one's another beauty, thanks to the wonderfully goofy grin of Jonas Hiller and a pinpoint look of confusion by our own Ducks staffer Chris DeLloyd. Take a look:
POWER PLAYERS IN BATHING SUITS ALERT!!! The first-ever Anaheim Ducks Power Players Swimsuit Calendar will go on sale this Sunday at the Anaheim Ducks Team Store at Honda Center.
The entire Power Players squad will be on hand to autograph purchased calendars on the concourse outside of section 228. Tickets are still available to that game vs. Nashville. Calendars are $20 and all net proceeds will benefit the Anaheim Ducks Foundation.
Take a look at a preview here.
Updated November 3 at 2:48 p.m.
Tonight it's all about righting the ship at home, but the Ducks have their work cut out for them with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning come into Anaheim for their one and only visit with a gaudy 7-2-1 record that is tied for tops in the Eastern Conference. Center Steven Stamkos, the 20-year-old whose 19 points leads the NHL, has a little bit of history in Anaheim, despite the fact his Lightning don't strike out here too often. Back on January 9 of 2009, Stamkos' rookie season after being the No. 1 overall pick, he was a healthy scratch in a 4-3 Tampa victory at Honda Center. Whether that was a wakeup call or not is anyone's guess, but it was one of only three games he would miss that entire season. A little more than a month after that scratch, Stamkos had a hat trick against the Blackhawks and essentially never cooled off. Since that February 17 game until now, no one in the NHL has more goals than his 78. That includes this ridiculous goal in Anaheim on November 19 of last year, a game the Ducks ultimately won in overtime on a Scott Niedermayer goal during a 4 on 3.
Stamkos is not the only hot Lightning (Lightning player? Bolt of Lightning?) right now. Goalie Dan Ellis, who signed in the offseason after three years in Nashville, hasn't given up a goal in his last 47 shots and has a shutout streak of 113 minutes, 35 seconds.
The Ducks will be looking to snap that streak with the help of a couple of young guys, as 19-year-old Kyle Palmieri is expected to be in the lineup tonight after being recalled from Syracuse. He's expected to be on a line with fellow youngster Nick Bonino, who was brought up earlier in the week to combat Anaheim's injury problems at forward. Matt Beleskey, who continues to recover from a concussion, skated yesterday and "left practice not feeling well," according to Randy Carlyle.
Center Bonino and right wing Palmieri skated together in Syracuse, where Palmieri had a hat trick last week and was named AHL Player of the Week. He and the 22-year-old Bonino were joined on the third unit with Todd Marchant during today's morning skate. At the time of their recalls, Palmieri was tied for the AHL lead in goals with seven, and was tied with Bonino for the rookie scoring lead with nine points.
“I would think that we’re going to look at those to play together and play with the hopes of creating more offense from that so-called third line if that’s how people determine it,” Carlyle said. “We look at it as maybe a kid line. The only thing is we probably have an older player [Marchant] going to play on the left wing.”
Palmieri admitted this morning that he was completely surprised when he heard he was getting the call and needed to get on a flight to LAX ASAP. "I was totally caught off guard,” he said. “But it’s the way the professional organizations work. It could be Syracuse one night and L.A. the next night. It’s really exciting.”
Palmieri, you might remember, was a 2009 first round pick who attended Notre Dame for a season before turning pro and signing an entry-level deal with the Ducks. Of making his expected NHL debut tonight, Palmieri said, "The butterflies started a little bit on the plane last night. Just kind of thinking about playing in my first NHL game. Once I get out there, it’s just a hockey game. That’s how I’ve got to treat it and treat it like every other game I play in.”
Oh, and speaking of kids, Cam Fowler will be in the lineup tonight after missing the last six games with a broken nose and stiff neck. He's expected to be paired with Paul Mara.
Joffrey Lupul, who hasn't played a game since December 8 of last year with complications following back surgery, skated with the Ducks this morning. But he's a long way from suiting up again, as he hasn't yet been cleared for contact by team doctors and is still working himself back into condition.
"It’s been such a long process now that they want to take it one step at a time," he said this morning. "They want me to stay on antibiotics for the rest of the year. I do tests and blood work and things like that to see if they can tell anything. They haven’t been able to see anything, but they want to just make sure. They say infections can get spread again when you get really active, which I have the last couple weeks, and I still feel good. Hopefully that’s a step in the right direction.
“I still have a long way to go, but at least this is enjoyable to be back around the guys and feel like I’m part of the team again. Just to be back around the guys is nice. It’s still tough knowing they’re all going to play tonight and I’m going to be in there on the bike."
Lupul said the only thing that was hurting him today was his lungs. "I need a lot of conditioning work," he said with a chuckle. "I can just tell from being out there for one day. I wasn’t feeling to great at the end, as far as my lungs and legs were feeling. But my back is holding up pretty well, so that’s good."
"Guys complain after they come back after a day off," he added with a laugh. "I’m coming back after being off a year."
Updated November 2 at 1:34 p.m.
It's been a heck of a 24 hours for one Cameron Matthew Fowler.
The 18-year-old Cam (who mentioned today that only his mom uses that full name ... when she's mad at him), was cleared to play yesterday after missing the last six games with a broken nose and a stiff neck. Then last night, he went through a little rookie hazing by having to get up on stage and give an impromptu speech to the crowd at Dux in Tux. And this morning, the Ducks announced that Fowler is staying with the team beyond his 10-game mark, an indication the team plans to keep him up here for at least a good chunk of the season.
"Now that it is official today, it’s big news for me," Fowler told a gathering of reporters. "I’m happy I have done my part here and that they want me to stay here. I’m just looking forward to getting back out on the ice now, coming back from my injury and just making sure I get after it."
As mentioned in this space previously, 10 games is the benchmark at which the first year of the entry level contract becomes official. If he had been sent down to his junior team before that time, it wouldn't have counted as a year against the life of his contract. There is another barrier we'll be looking at around the midpoint of the season. As a rule, players become restricted free agents when they turn 27 years old or have been in the league seven years. If Fowler is still on the roster when the team plays its 40th game, that will officially count as the first year toward free agent status.
But that's all in the future for Fowler; at present, it's great news that we'll get to see more of this kid for the time being. And his maturity and charm was on full display last night at Dux in Tux, where co-chair Todd Marchant pulled the traditional move of making the youngest player on the team get up and talk. Although, first Marchant threw a knuckleball, making a surprised Andy Sutton get up there first. Sutton did a nice job talking about the frustration of being injured for most of the season and expressing his excitement about being in Anaheim and his optimism for the rest of the season.
But the real star of the show was Fowler, who kept the crowd entertained during his five minutes on the stage during an event where every table was represented by a chef from various local restaurants and a Ducks player "sous chef." All Fowler had to do was lead off his speech with an awkward, "Well..." before he was met by hoots and hollers from the audience. He continued, "I’d like to thank everybody for being here, especially The Catch [an Anaheim restaurant] table at table 24. The coolest cats in the building right now, that's for sure."
(Love that an 18-year-old kid is using an expression like "coolest cats.")
I’m not really sure what direction I’m supposed to go," Fowler said. "I could talk about my childhood, I was born on December 5 ..." Then he paused and added with emphasis, "Nineteen ninety-one," which was met by roars from the crowd. "I know. Trust me, I know," he said. "The last time I was in a tuxedo was senior prom..." (applause) " … and that was last year" (much louder applause).
He reached for more material: "Thank you for the support. I was born on a cold winter's day in Michigan. My dad was born in Newfoundland. He was a bit of a character and did a great job with me, brought me up to be a huge hockey fan.
"I was holding a hockey stick when I was 3. Actually, funny story, the first time I ever put on skates, my mom dressed me in the locker room [crowd laughs]. I went to take my first steps on the ice, and I still had the skate guards on. So, I’m flipping around out there and I thought, Geez, this might not be as easy as I thought it was.
"I’m loving being in Calfornia. It’s awesome. The people are so friendly. It’s so clean and people always have their cars washed. That’s not normally the trend in Michigan, where we pride ourselves on our dirty cars. I’ve got to make sure to keep the wheels fresh on my Ford Explorer.
"The guys have been unbelievable for me. All of them have taken me under their wing and accepted me for who I am. That’s all I can ask for."
Fowler was dying to wrap it up, but Marchant didn't make a move to take the mic from him. "I’m getting the death stare from T Bone, so it’s clearly not time for me to make my exit," Fowler said, before deciding to open it up to some Q&A.
"My favorite video game?" he repeated. "Call of Duty. That’s something about us hockey players. We love that game. It’s in our blood. I don’t know what it is."
He was asked about driving Teemu Selanne's Maybach to the home opener. "Let’s just say I was a little terrified of driving it. Luckily, we made it to the rink safely. The brakes were a little touchy, and I jerked Teemu and Getzy’s heads back a couple of times. I didn’t know what I was doing. They dressed me up in a little chauffeur hat and Coach Carlyle didn’t like that hat too much, so I took some heat for that."
And just before he left the stage, he paused to answer one more question shouted from the crowd. "I’m single," he said sheepishly, to the biggest applause of the night.
It was also revealed today that with Fowler now in a more permanent status with the Ducks, he has moved in with ... wait for it ... Scott Niedermayer's family. The idea, according to Fowler, was Scotty's.
"The last few days they have told me to start moving some of my stuff into Scotty’s house and to get my car out here," Fowler said.
"It’s unbelievable for basically my role model growing up to open up his home to me. To meet his wife, she is awesome. I don’t think it gets much better for an 18-year-old kid to move in with his idol in Newport Beach and play in the NHL. I’m really thankful that they opened their house to me. I can lean on Scotty for some knowledge and he can help me out along the way.
"They are basically taking me in as part of their family now. I want to make sure that I don’t abuse the privilege, don’t keep the house too messy and just be respectful.
He was asked about the house rules, and said, "Just common courtesy things, like keep my room clean. They run a pretty tight ship over there. They don’t let it get out of control. Scotty told me, with having four kids and having me move in, it’s almost like they won’t even notice me. They have a bunch of stuff going on. The less I’m noticed the better it is."
Sounds like a true defenseman.
Almost overshadowed by the Fowler developments is a huge piece of Ducks news -- GEORGE PARROS HAS SHAVED HIS MUSTACHE.
Parros shaved it yesterday and is growing it back in honor of "Movember," in which men around the world grow moustaches to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Click here for more information on the cause.
Georgie did an interview with TSN that will be aired later today, during which he had the mustache taken off by a Movember representative with an electric razor. We'll provide a link to the video later today, as well as some footage we got of Georgie talking about it today. For now, here's the before and after:
Updated November 1 at 12:14 p.m.
It was probably appropriate that the Ducks' past weekend led into Halloween, because there were some moments that were pretty frightening.
Saturday night's 5-2 defeat in San Jose might have been a little easier to take if Friday night with New Jersey had gone better. After all, taking on the Sharks in their building on the back end of a back-to-back is no small task. For that matter, either is taking on a New Jersey team that has a ton of talent but had inexplicably unachieved in its first 10 games and was looking desperately for a turning point.
In both cases, the Ducks struggled, starting with that Friday night at Honda Center where the defense held its own (only giving up 27 shots). But Anaheim couldn't get much going on the other end (28 shots). The Ducks were looking to build off that satisfying road-trip-ending 5-2 victory in Dallas, but as Randy Carlyle said, "We just didn't execute." They only got a workmanlike power play goal from Jason Blake in falling 2-1.
It was more of the same the next night in San Jose, when the Ducks fell behind early (Dany Heatley goal just 34 seconds in) and didn't get on the scoreboard until power play goals by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry came after the Ducks were already down 5-0. In between, the Ducks and Sharks engaged in a series of fights that simultaneously illustrated Anaheim's frustration and a heated rivalry between two sides that don't like each other.
Afterward, Getzlaf lamented the play of his top line, which was on the ice for that Heatley goal that came after the Ducks captain lost the faceoff in his own end to Joe Thornton. “Our line’s got to do a better job,” Getzlaf said. ”Simple as that. We can’t get scored on a faceoff play. It puts our team behind the eight-ball. We’ve got to be able to lead the group and that’s where we’ve got to step up. Especially in back-to-back games. That’s our responsibility.”
The Ducks got back to town late after that game and had Sunday off, but they're back at it at 2 p.m. this afternoon. They now face a stretch of five of six games at home, the only outlier being a return trip to San Jose a week from tomorrow.
“You always look at your building as almost a safety net for you when things aren’t going well,” Getzlaf said. “You’ve got to get back to where guys are feeling comfortable. We’ve got to take it upon ourselves to be ready for that challenge. We’ve got some tough games ahead. It’s going to be tough, even those in our building. But we’ve got to be able to work.”
Kyle Palmieri was just named AHL Player of the Week, partly for his hat trick last Wednesday in the Syracuse Crunch's 5-4 loss to Hamilton. Palmieri, the former Notre Damer taken by the Ducks 29th in 2009, has seven goals this season, tied for the top spot in the AHL.
Meanwhile, Nick Bonino -- who is tied with Palmieri for second in the AHL in rookie scoring with nine points -- was recalled from Syracuse this morning for some added depth to make up for Anaheim's recent forward injuries.
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Our video guys have done another tremendous job, this time with 2010 Draft: All Access, featuring first round pick Cam Fowler, who comes off as incredibly mature yet again. One of my favorite parts, when little sis looks up from her texting to tell Cam, "Do you know how proud I am of you?" Got a little dusty in here when I saw that.
Take a look: