Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On the road (again)

[No clever caption. Just Ducks celebrating. Photo by G. Forwerck]

The Ducks have embarked on a road trip that will see them play the next 5-games out of 6 away from the Pond. Last night, they faced an equally struggling team: the Carolina Hurricanes. It would be a strong victory for the lads from Anaheim that saw goals scored by Horcoff (when the puck deflected off his skate and was ruled good because it was not kicked in), Vats (off a beautiful fake shot that Canes dman Ron Hainsey bought before Vats moved around him to wrist it by goaltender Eddie Lack), Swagelin-Hagelin (who scored on a wrap around when the puck hit the heel of Lacks stick that sent it through his 5-hole), and Getzlaf (finally scoring his first goal of the season on an empty net). Khudobin was the starter, and only conceded one goal. Final score: 4-1. Swags would have a strong bounce-back game earning the nights 1st star with 3 points from a goal and two assists. The Ducks definitely took advantage of Carolina's young blueline. 

Tonight, Anaheim will be on the second end of a back-to-back when they roll into Nashville to play the Predators who could be wearing their piss-yellow sweaters (thankfully, this will be the last match up of the season so parents won't have to hide their teenage daughters from Ribeiro...until next season). More than likely, it will be a goal tending duel of Frandersen versus Rinne. Before the Ducks departed Anaheim, news broke of call-ups from the San Diego Gulls. Forwards Nick Ritchie and Michael Sgarbossa joined the big team, and last night, Ritchie would get his NHL debut on a line with Kesler and Stewart registering 10:39 TOI with zeros across the board except for a few good hits. Ducks would also call-up dman Holzer to take place of Josh Manson due to having the flu, and as of this morning: dman Shea Theodore. With the players coming up from the A, Ducks had to place forward Chris Wagner on waivers before sending him down to the Gulls, a trip he never made. Colorado Avalanche swooped in taking him from the clutches of Barstool Bob which made a lot of Ducks fans moan and groan about poor team management and blah blah blah. Apparently, they didn't understand the rules. 

Hopefully, Anaheim can ride the momentum of last night's win and play a solid game. Sadly, I'll have to watch a replay later on tonight when I get home from work, but I'll definitely be listening. Priorities, people!

Go Ducks!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The good, the bad, but mostly good

[Perry: "The trick is to hit the side of the ketchup bottle!" Photo by D. Robinson]

Last night, the Ducks had a chance to bounce back from a very unfortunate OT loss in their prior game against the Coyotes. After giving up the lead in that game, players and coaches stated that they need to strive to hold leads and not blow them. That would not be the case against the Edmonton Oilers. Anaheim would blow the lead 3-times to where the Oilers forced OT (yet again) before winning the game. Final score: 3-4. Let's take a quick look into the negatives and positives of the team. 

Starting with "the bad":

The defense system. It's easy to say that so far this season, Kevin Bieksa hasn't been (for lack of a better description) that great. Dude's producing more turnovers than a baker in the defensive zone, and Lindolm has had a hard time staying on his skates. Hampus has definitely been doing better than KB, but when Stoner looks stronger than you, well, there's a problem. It has been noted that Bieksa's playing a lot of minutes, that might be because Despres is still injured, but Lawdy, I hope Simon gets healthy and returns soon! Maybe a good solution is to drop KB's playing minutes when SD returns. Another fugly side to the Ducks is that they have made me want to down a bottle of whiskey due to their poor play in 2nd periods which has been kind of a bad habit the past few seasons, and so far, they are 0-3 this year in 3v3 OT. But the odd part about their defensive play is that they're very good on the PK; they are 2nd in the league at 89.1% and have given up 7 goals in 48 attempts when they're down a man. If you don't think that's pretty damn good, then I suggest you seek professional help, but if you're not puzzled as all hell as to how they're down right abysmal defensively outside the PK, then I have no hope for you. For the past few seasons the defense has been questionable, and GM Barstool Bob has done his part to spackle the holes, but maybe the issue goes beyond the players. Maybe it's time to start looking at D-coach Trent Yawney who's system mirrors that of Randy Carlyle's which, let's face it, IS. NOT. WORKING. 

But I won't focus too much on the ugly, there are some bright spots with the team and their play, plus it's nice to save the best for last!

"The Good":

We'll start out with Corey Perry who, by Selanne's account, has opened up the ketchup bottle. Bounces are starting to go Perry's way which is a relief, and last night, he found the back of the net twice (even almost a third). His 2nd goal was the 300th of his career, and I'm sure there will be many more to come! Speaking of getting points, Stewart and Vatanen have been consistent on the scoring sheet. Many fans are speculating that Vats could be the odd man out when it comes to the trade deadline, but he's pleading his case to stay in a Ducks uniform. Stewart is finding his play back to how it used to be, he's positioning himself in that dirty area which is in front of the net, and he is also contributing. Josh Manson is proving that it was a good idea to have him up with the big boys this season. He's a big body who is also very mobile, he never backs down and will use his physicality when in need. He also has a wicked shot. Last night, he even had a really great chance on a breakaway - it's easy to say that his future looks bright. We also saw the return of Ducks forward and heartthrob to obsessive 16 year olds, Rickard Rakell, who was injured last week. It was good to see him back out there because so far this season, he's been one of the better players. He drew in on the top line as the left wing which isn't his natural position. As a center, he did not look out of place and was able to play his game which will be a good option for BB as the team moves forward. One must wonder if he'll stick on that line with the twins.

Another positive is that they are 4-0-2 in the last 6-games and are getting points, but that will only be good for a short amount of time especially against divisional teams, the Ducks need to start collecting that extra point after starting out in an early hole. 1 pt will only take you so far (see the Kings of last season), and we don't need the team to tire themselves out whilst trying to catch up towards the end of the season. Tomorrow, they'll face the New York Islanders before going out on the road for 4-games, they'll need to progress, win, and climb coming into Thanksgiving. They can definitely win the next 5-games, and the good must overcome the bad. It can happen, it must happen, I really don't want to stress eat this holiday season. 

Go Ducks!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The return of Cap'n Bonehead

[Getzy: "Hey fellas, wait up! I also get celebratory Twinkies & punch for helping you win, right?! Photo by H. How]

When it was reported that the great and wise Cap'n of the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Getzlaf, had to have an emergency appendectomy, many were wondering if that was the reason his play so far this season was...well...non-existent. It had seemed as though the he had been missing since last years playoffs. Which takes us back to this past Friday when the Blue Jackets visited Anaheim and where I posted reports of the cap'n himself returning since his surgery. And return, he did. Getzlaf would be the #1 star of that game collecting 3 pts on 3 assists with a +/- of 1 in the Ducks 4-2 win. The following night on second end of a back-to-back in San Jose, he would register the loan assist after a beautiful stretch-pass to Corey Perry which lead to an equally solid goal that became the game winner against the Sharks. Final score: 1-0 (giving backup netminder, Khudobin the shutout). The Ducks would find their win streak at 4-games, and it appeared that the prodigal Cap'n had return.

Anaheim looked to take it to 5-games a couple of nights ago when the Phoenix Coyotes came rolling in from that great hockey market in the desert. The Ducks would take a commanding lead in the 1st period by netting 2 goals, but the Yotes would take advantage of that wonderfully solid Anaheim defensive system in the 2nd period by scoring 3-unanswered to take the lead. Things looked bleak for our lads until 11:43 in the 3rd period when Sami Vatanen tied the game after being the beast that he is by taking the puck from the Ducks side of the neutral zone into the Coyotes zone before passing it to Cogliano, who would then pass it back to Vats for a tip-in that sent the puck behind Yotes tender Lindback and into the net. Regulation would end at 3-3 which called for 3v3 overtime. Anaheim would have the momentum and almost all of the possession for the first minute and ten seconds in that extra session which looked promising. That was until...yeah, you guessed it:

Cue Ryan Getzlaf who in this case was played by none other than Cap'n Bonehead.

As the great and wise cap'n carried the puck through the neutral zone towards the offensive, he would show us that he has yet to learn from his mistakes of his drop-pass past by blindly sending the puck behind through his legs directly to Coyotes forward, Mikkel Boedker, causing a breakaway before squeezing said biscuit between Frandersen's skate and post to win the game. Social media immediately took to rightfully expressing their disgust with the all too familiar careless move by the cap'n; a move we've all witnessed before. Too many times has he blindly passed to the opposition before that very player cashed in on his mistake. What was really upsetting about this time around was the fact that the team had battled for that solo point only to have their efforts come apart by his dumb mistake. Yes, it was great that he got those 4 pts in the 2-games of his return, and yes, the bright side is that the team earned 9 out of 10 possible points in the last 5-games, but had it not been for Boneheads boneheaded move, they might have 10 out of 10. Tonight, the Ducks look to bounce back against the Ghost of Connor McDavids team - the Edmonton Oilers, but my question is this: will Getzlaf ever learn? I really don't know. Maybe he can have an emergency lobotomy so that he'll never drop pass to the other team ever again. Either way...

Go Ducks!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Battle of the Bottom

[Perry: "But the top of the league is waaay up there..." Photo by H. How]

If anyone had mentioned to me before the beginning of this season that one of the Battle of the Bottom games would feature the Anaheim Ducks, I would have asked what kind of DC crack they were smoking before giving them a swift kick in the pants. With the expectations everyone had for the Ducks going into the start of the season, there was no way they'd be at the bottom - that place is always reserved for the likes of the Leafs, Oilers, Yotes, and Sabres...right? 

Alas, the harsh reality is that at the infant stages of this NHL season, they are just above the Leafs as the second worst team in the entire league. Hey, at least Toronto are doing their part as being at the bottom of the barrel! Right above the Ducks are the Columbus Blue Jackets, who just as well as Anaheim, had better expectations of being where they currently stand. The boys from 'Lumbus are coming off an entertaining 3-2 win from last night's game against the Los Angeles Criminals (which made me smile from Nick Foligno's re-arranging of Kyle Clifford's face). Anaheim are riding a lengthy 2-game win streak from Wednesday night's shootout victory that sent the Panthers packing to San Jose, the same game in which Corey Perry finally scored a goal by tying it up 5 seconds before it ended. 

Tonight, the two will be tested in their skills as the worst teams. And as I write this post, news has broke that Cap'n No-Hair looks to make his return from last season's Western Conference Final! Will Hampus have another terrible game? Will Hartnell stay on his skates? How many times will I face palm from watching the Ducks pathetically breakdown defensively? We shall see! It should be depressingly entertaining.

Go Ducks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A new month...

October is a month known for ghouls, ghosts, witches, and all sorts of scary things. That being said, the Anaheim Ducks record for the beginning of the season would prove to be terrifying.  The team returned home this past weekend to end the devilish month from a terrible 5-game road trip in which they only earned 1-point from an OT loss in Chicago. The last team they faced on that road trip were the St. Louis Blues in a game that the Blues won from a goal off a very unlucky bounce, the final score would be 1-2 making the following days to come interesting. In the first ten games, the Ducks would have an abysmal record of 1-7-2 that nobody had predicted, and the reason why things would get interesting is because many would say that coach Bruce Boudreau's days behind the Anaheim bench were coming to an end. That was until GM Barstool Bob finally made a statement to the media after a Ducks practice at home where BB was still coaching the team. 

“I really don’t like commenting on rumors, but I will say this: We were one game away from the Final just five months ago. So while this has been a terrible start, I’m not inclined to make rash changes. I’m going to be patient. That said, we are severely underperforming as a group. I can’t recall a time where a vast majority of our players have underachieved simultaneously, and I fully expect a turnaround.”

Fortunately, no barstools were flung. Either way, that is not to say that someone and/or people are not on a short leash. Some are even suspecting that Barstool Bob is one of them, and I'm not one to be calling for the head of Boudreau. You can see that in the last couple of games on the road trip, the team were still playing for their coach, even when the clouds got heavier due to Cap'n Invisible himself (Getzlaf) having to come home for an emergency appendectomy in what the Cap'n stated was the sole cause of him playing like total crap...since last years playoffs. With Getzy out and things on edge, the teams first game in November would be against the Nashville Predators. The Preds easily took out Anaheim a week prior in Nashville, and it was time for all parents in Orange County to lock up their teenage daughters because Mike Ribeiro would be in town as well as a test for Anaheim - would the Ducks continue their losing ways or would they change things around? It was the latter.

The Ducks would score 3 goals in the 1st period (a goal in the first minute, two within twelve seconds of each other), and they would never look back. Which was good because the last two games on the road, the Ducks would score first then give up the lead. And although they would win the first game of the month at home 4-2, it was easy to spot the continuous defensive issues with the team along with certain players needing to improve or just plainly be shot out of a canon and into the sun (Maroon). The test continues tonight where Anaheim will take on Roberto Luongo's hair-do and the rest of the Florida Panthers who have done very well against the Ducks. Hopefully, there will be another number tacked inside the "W" column for our lads. If not, gotta think that the ice will thin more for some of the coaching staff. Oh, the suspense. 

Go Ducks!