Getzlaf’s back, and other notes from practice.

Ryan Getzlaf returned to practice — looking trim, but weighing the same, he insisted — for the first time since he went on injured reserve after suffering multiple nasal sinus fractures on Dec. 28. He skated on a line with usual fourth-liners Todd Marchant, George Parros, Kyle Chipchura and Aaron Voros — who was officially activated off IR today.

The occasion of seeing Getzlaf on the ice allowed a moment to put his injury into perspective. I tried, with limited success, to extract from him the potential severity of taking a puck between the eyebrows. Check out tomorrow’s editions for more on that.

Voros was the other big news. Because he gave the Ducks a total of 22 players on the active roster, there was only room for one player to come up from Syracuse. Dan Sexton got the call and Matt Beleskey, who had two goals and seven points in 11 January games, was left behind.

It’s worth noting that Voros was scratched from 20 of the Ducks’ 31 games before he went down with a fractured orbital bone, and his injury opened up ice time for youngsters like Beleskey, Sexton and Brandon McMillan — who skated as the top-line center again Monday. Voros could well find himself in the press box again Wednesday when the San Jose Sharks visit Honda Center.

The forward lines and defensive pairings remained the same. Corey Perry said his flight back from North Carolina touched down at 1 p.m. local time, giving him just enough time to make the 3 p.m. practice (but not enough time to unpack). Jonas Hiller and Cam Fowler were also on the ice, as was goaltending consultant Pete Peeters, wearing the full goalie pads.

Perry and Cam Fowler talked a bit about their All-Star Game experiences, but I’ll save that for the next blog.

One more tidbit that you never find in a newspaper (which reminds me why blogs were invented): Teemu Selanne said today’s practice, which ended around 4:30 p.m., reminded him of how it used to be when he was coming up because he was able to leave the rink with darkness creeping in outside. Winnipeg, I asked? Nope, Finland. “Back home,” he said.

Ducks All-Star recap.

The NHL All-Star Game is over, and the lasting Corey Perry-versus-Jonas Hiller moment still took place Saturday, when the Ducks’ leading scorer beat the Ducks’ leading goaltender (

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) in an exhibition shootout.

Perry wasn’t responsible for any of the game-high 17 shots Jonas Hiller faced in the second period Sunday, but Hiller had a few dandies among his game-high 15 saves. If any goalie were to be named MVP of an NHL All-Star Game – Mike Richter was the last, in 1994 – Hiller did well to state his case. After giving up goals to Patrick Sharp and Kris Letang on his first five shots, Hiller stopped 12 straight as Team Nicklas Lidstrom took a 7-6 lead.

Down 4-0 at one point, Team Lidstrom walked away with an 11-10 win.

Perry had a pair of primary assists for Team Eric Staal. Staal, the team captain, did most of the work on his third-period goal after taking a short pass from Perry. Later in the period, Perry had a nice set-up on Rick Nash’s goal, reaching around a defender to sneak through a pass on the breakaway:

In case you missed the game, it was a fairly typical NHL All-Star Game despite the build-up from Friday’s creatively staged draft.

Sharp was named the game’s MVP – a curious choice considering that his team lost, and his three points (one goal, two assists) were matched or eclipsed by five players, including four on the winning team. An educated guess: Sharp was credited with three assists in the first period. One assist was taken back during the second period, but some of the voting contingent literally might not have gotten the memo before their votes were cast.

(Video courtesy of; photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Perry reigns in the shootout at skills competition (Video).

Consider the expectations raised for Corey Perry the next time he’s called upon in a shootout.

Perry was a perfect 3-for-3, including a goal against teammate Jonas Hiller on his first attempt, in the shootout challenge at the NHL’s SuperSkills competition Saturday. Perry outlasted Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis’ go-to 90-degree turn with a variety of moves – going top-shelf on Hiller, 5-hole on Marc-Andre Fleury and top-shelf again on Tim Thomas to win the competition.

Perry’s personal accomplishment also clinched victory for Team Eric Staal in the head-to-head points against Team Nicklas Lidstrom, 33-22. Perry would have been properly labeled an underdog going into the event – he’s only 1 for 6 in shootouts so far this season.

Perry had the most memorable day of the three Ducks, a day that included this set of moves in the breakaway challenge (won for the third straight year by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin):

Hiller had a quiet day. He wasn’t called upon until the second round of the shootout challenge, didn’t compete in the fastest skater competition (leaving that spectacle to Tim Thomas and Cam Ward), and wasn’t in the net against any of the breakaway shooters. Given Hiller’s relative lack of activity, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see Perry beat him on the first shot he saw.

Of the next 10 shots Hiller saw, only one got by – off the stick of Columbus’ Rick Nash.

Cam Fowler participated in the hardest shot challenge and recorded shots at 93.7 and 93.8 mph. It was the second-slowest shot among the 12 shooters (ahead of only Nash). Fowler also missed on his only shootout attempt, against Ward.

The All-Star Game is tomorrow at 1 p.m. (televised on Versus).

Hiller goes in 10th round, Perry 15th at All-Star draft.

A seldom-seen set of spectacles gave Jonas Hiller a dignified look as he sat with his fellow NHL All-Stars at the draft room in Raleigh, N.C.

Then Hiller was met with the indignity of being the last goalie selected Friday, in the 10th round by team captain Nicklas Lidstrom. Hiller and Ducks teammate Corey Perry were split up for Sunday’s All-Star game, which will be played at the RBC Center, home of the Carolina Hurricanes.

According to the rules of the first-year “draft” format, Hiller could not have been picked any later than he was. All six all-star goalies had to be picked in the first 10 rounds.

Hiller, who leads the NHL with 25 wins, watched as Cam Ward was the first player selected overall by captain Eric Staal, Ward’s teammate in Carolina. Tim Thomas (fifth round, Lidstrom), Henrik Lundqvist (sixth round, Staal), Marc-Andre Fleury (ninth round, Lidstrom) and Carey Price (10th round, Staal) all went first.

Perry had to wait until the 15th round to hear his name called, when he was selected by Staal  — one spot after Minnesota Wild forward Martin Havlat and one spot ahead of Kings forward Anze Kopitar.

In addition, Ducks rookie Cam Fowler joined Team Lidstrom and will compete opposite Perry in the SuperSkills competition Saturday. The rookies were divided into two teams of six, before each group of rookies joined up with one group of All-Stars.

Getzlaf cleared to practice Monday.

A target date has been set for Ryan Getzlaf to return to the Ducks’ lineup.

The captain had a follow-up CT scan Wednesday on his nasal sinus fractures, and the team said today that the fractures are healing well and remain
stable. Getzlaf has been cleared to skate with the team when it returns to practice 3 p.m. Monday at Honda
Center, though he isn’t likely to be cleared for full contact right away.

Getzlaf will be held out of game action for
the next two contests, Feb. 2 against San Jose and Feb. 5 at Colorado. He will likely
return to the lineup sometime during the Ducks’ Western Canada swing – Feb. 9 in Vancouver, Feb. 11 in Calgary, or Feb. 13 in Edmonton.

Including the Dec. 28 win against the Phoenix Coyotes in which Getzlaf was injured, the Ducks have gone 10-3-0 without their captain.

Bailey’s allegations raise an interesting question.

Jason Bailey lasted only one season in the Ducks organization, but it’s becoming a memorable one.

A third-round draft pick by Anaheim in 2005, the forward turned pro three years later and was assigned to the Bakersfield Condors, then the Ducks’ ECHL affiliate. Bailey, who is Jewish, is suing the Ducks for unspecified damages stemming from alleged discrimination against him by two Condors coaches during the 2008-09 season.

According to multiple reports citing documents filed Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court, Bailey claims he was the target of anti-Semitic remarks. Additionally, Bailey alleges that Condors head coach Marty Raymond and assistant coach Mark Pederson forced him to travel apart from the team, and he was “rarely given any ice time,” because he is Jewish.

Raymond was suspended for one week by the Condors and is still the team’s head coach. Pederson, who was suspended two weeks at the time, left after the season to coach in Europe. Bailey was traded to the Ottawa Senators for Shawn Weller in September 2009. Bailey has spent all of the last two seasons – and is still playing for – Ottawa’s top farm team, the Binghamton Senators.

A Ducks spokesperson said late Tuesday that the team cannot comment on the case.

The most interesting facet here might not be the substance of the allegations, but who should be legally held at fault if they’re true.
Continue reading “Bailey’s allegations raise an interesting question.” »

Ducks 3, Columbus 2.

The Ducks will not play another game this month, but not by choice.

Anaheim wrapped up a four-game Eastern trip with another one-goal win, leaning again on their goalie to pull out a tough win in a hostile environment. The wins in Columbus, Montreal and Ottawa gave the Ducks six of a possible eight points on the trip, and brought their January record to 8-3-0.

Teemu Selanne, Cam Fowler and Jason Blake scored goals, Blake his 200th in the NHL. Jonas Hiller had another monster game, finishing with 35 saves, including point-blank stops on Rick Nash and Anton Stralman point-blank in the third period.

The Ducks got a needed cushion when Derek Dorsett was hit with a five-minute major penalty for boarding Corey Perry in the first period. Selanne and Fowler cashed in with power-play goals 61 seconds apart and, just as importantly, Perry returned to the game before the period was over.

Nash scored before the period was over to pull Columbus within 2-1, but Blake’s insurance goal early in the third, on a beautiful backhand flip in front of the net, restored the two-goal margin. Brassard’s power-play goal at 9:54 of the third period cut the lead to 3-2 but the Jackets couldn’t convert with Steve Mason (19 saves) pulled for an extra attacker.

A few more notes:
Continue reading “Ducks 3, Columbus 2.” »

Ducks 4, Montreal 3, SO.

Saku Koivu’s first game back in Montreal began with a heart-warming, name-chanting tribute – and nearly ended in heartbreak.

The longtime captain of the Canadiens could only sit and watch from the penalty box as Max Pacioretty jammed a rebound past Jonas Hiller with 12.6 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at 3.

But for the second time in three games, Bobby Ryan saved the day. Using the same forehand move on Carey Price that he used four days earlier to win a game in Ottawa, Ryan scored the only goal of the shootout, and Jonas Hiller stopped all three Canadiens attempts on the other end, to give the Ducks the win.

Cam Fowler and Corey Perry scored power-play goals in regulation, and Ryan scored at even strength, to give Anaheim (27-20-4) a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Goals by Pacioretty – his second of the game – and Mathieu Darche allowed the Habs to tie the game in a third period that saw them outshoot the Ducks 23-5.

Hiller, who made 37 saves, was his usual outstanding self in a head-to-head matchup with Price. By getting the win, Hiller matched Price for the NHL lead with 24 wins.

With one stop left (Tuesday in Columbus) on a four-game road trip, the Ducks have collected four of a possible six points to move into a tie with Nashville for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

A few more notes:
Continue reading “Ducks 4, Montreal 3, SO.” »

Saku Koivu returns to Montreal (video).

The city of Montreal has a unique relationship to the sport of hockey, and Saku Koivu has a unique relationship to all who have worn the uniform of the Montreal Canadiens. It goes beyond the fact that his sweater had a “C” stitched on it longer than anyone else’s – though, if that sounds trivial, it would be wise to invest 35 minutes, 44 seconds watching or listening to Koivu’s press conference (below).

The Ducks center will play in the Bell Centre Saturday for the first time as an opposing player. On Friday, Koivu – who called the arena “like home ” – took time to take questions from the media. There were many.

A transcript would only do partial justice to the mutual respect between Koivu and the city that shines through, so here’s the full video (courtesy of the Ducks’ website):

Toronto 5, Ducks 2.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere was ready for this one.

The most decorated goaltender in Anaheim history, playing his first game against his former team since the trade that sent him to Toronto last January, made 26 saves and outshone successor Jonas Hiller at the Air Canada Centre.

Dan Sexton and Brandon McMillan scored the Ducks’ goals, the latter giving Anaheim a 2-1 lead at 5:23 of the second period. But Toronto scored four unanswered as the Ducks couldn’t stop the bleeding defensively. Hiller made plenty of All-Star caliber saves, but let in some relatively easy ones in stopping 32 of 37.

Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and linemate Clarke MacArthur added a goal and an assist. Phil Kessel had a pair of assists for Toronto, which was coming off a 7-0 loss at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.