Ducks 5, Colorado 4.

There’s really no such thing as a ho-hum win in Anaheim these days.

Monday could have been, given the matchup between two teams on opposite ends of the playoff picture. But an early 2-0 lead by the Avalanche, and the first three-goal, five-point game by an NHL player over the age of 40 changed that.

Teemu Selanne did not so much steal the show — he was the show, figuring into all five Ducks goals on a night when they needed every one.

“I’ve been feeling great all year,” he said. “I’ve been able to play with great players all the time. It has been fun. That’s the only reason I’m still around.”

The questions of whether or not Selanne will retire, but Monday’s game could only nudge him in the “should-I-stay” direction.

Here are some of the milestones Selanne achieved, courtesy of the Ducks’ PR staff:
Continue reading “Ducks 5, Colorado 4.” »

Emery gets his star; Ducks sign prospect.

Ray Emery may be the latest goalie to be part of Randy Carlyle’s “1 and 1-A” platoon, but for now he’s the NHL’s second star of the week.

From the league’s official press release:

Emery continued his successful
comeback from hip surgery by posting a 2-0-0 record, 0.99 goals-against
average and .968 save percentage last week, helping the Ducks (40-27-5)
jump to eighth
place in the Western Conference playoff race. Emery stopped 61 of 63
shots, beginning with a 30-save performance in a 2-1 victory over the
St. Louis Blues Mar. 16 — his first NHL start in over a year. He also
recorded 31 saves in backstopping Anaheim to a
2-1 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings Mar. 19. Emery’s start vs.
St. Louis was his first in the NHL since Feb. 1, 2010 as a member of the
Philadelphia Flyers. He underwent season-ending hip surgery a month
later and became a free agent at the end of
the season. Emery signed with Anaheim on Feb. 7, was recalled from AHL
Syracuse Mar. 7 and made his 2010-11 NHL debut in a relief appearance on
Mar. 13 vs. Phoenix.

Emery played well in Syracuse, too, so his success at the NHL level hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere. Most importantly, he hasn’t had any physical setbacks. The question now is, what becomes of Emery and Dan Ellis once Jonas Hiller is healthy? It’s a good problem to have.

The Ducks also signed free-agent forward Rick Schofield, a rookie fresh off his senior season with Lake Superior State, to a one-year, entry-level deal. The 23-year-old from Pickering, Ontario, led the Lakers with 17 goals and 18 assists in 39 games last season. He tallied 51 goals and 53 assists in 144 games over his four-year career.
Continue reading “Emery gets his star; Ducks sign prospect.” »

Ducks 5, Calgary 4, OT.

Teemu Selanne can’t remember being part of a team that pulled out as many late wins as this group of Ducks. And if it hasn’t happened to the 40-year-old right wing, then it probably hasn’t happened here before.

The Ducks’ 5-4 overtime win over the Calgary Flames was their second OT win in as many days and their fourth this month. Most importantly, it allowed the Ducks to reach eighth place in the Western Conference and dropped the Flames to 10th.

One night after Corey Perry scored off a clean snipe in overtime to beat the Kings, it was Perry again who got credit for deflecting Toni Lymdan’s slapshot at 2:38 of overtime to beat Calgary. Perry became the first player in franchise history to score overtime goals in consecutive games, and gave Anaheim overtime wins in back-to-back games for just the third time ever. Two have come in the last month.

What does it all mean?

“It just says that we have fight left in us at the end of the game, and we don’t just roll over,” Perry said. “There’s always a chance for us.”

The Ducks squandered an early 3-0 lead when Jarome Iginla’s power-play goal at 7:10 of the third period put Calgary ahead 4-3. But Selanne’s re-direction of a Ryan Getzlaf shot tied the game at 4 with 2:01 left in the third period.

“I’d like to see that we don’t put ourselves in that situation that many times,” Selanne said, “but it doesn’t really matter how you win the games, you need those two points. … Every point is so critical right now. It’s unbelievable how tight it is.”

And therein lies the value of the Ducks’ ability to bounce back. On Sunday the Predators needed overtime to beat Buffalo, while the Blackhawks got a goal in the final seven minutes to beat the Coyotes. On Saturday, seven of the 10 games were either decided by one goal, or two including empty-netters.

So unless your opponent is already looking to next year, it’s unreasonable to expect to win big in the NHL — or simply to believe that a 3-0 lead gained six minutes into a game will stand. Calmness under pressure is a virtue.

The Ducks remained calm even after Bobby Ryan couldn’t convert a penalty-shot attempt 2:34 into the overtime period, when he was tripped en route to the net by Calgary defenseman Steve Staios. It was Ryan’s second overtime penalty-shot attempt this month; he converted the first to beat Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings on March 2.

“Penalty shots are funny. Everybody thinks it’s either make or break, but it’s only one play in the game,” Getzlaf said. “It’s definitely an emotional play, but it’s one of those situations where we knew what we had to do.”

Getzlaf took the ensuing faceoff draw and won it by kicking the puck (literally, with his skate) out to Lydman for the game-winning slapshot.

Some more notes/observations:
Continue reading “Ducks 5, Calgary 4, OT.” »

Kings-Ducks IV: Get worked up, unless you’re playing tomorrow.

Whether you’re a Ducks fan, a Kings fan, a hockey fan — or just a fan of round numbers — there are plenty of reasons to get worked up about tomorrow’s Kings-Ducks game (7:30 p.m. at Staples Center).

Considering the two teams have never qualified for the playoffs in the same season, the Kings and Ducks are approaching uncharted territory. The latest the two sides have ever shared space in the top eight was back on March 21, 2000. On that date the Kings had nine games left (34-26-13, fifth place in the Western Conference) and Ducks had eight games left (31-29-14, eighth place). The Kings wound up finishing fifth in the West that year while the Ducks finished ninth, four points behind San Jose for the final playoff berth.

Both teams were in the Western Conference’s top eight when play began Thursday; by the end of the night the Ducks had fallen to 10th without playing a game. With a win today, Anaheim would climb back into eighth place, even the head-to-head season series with the Kings at two games apiece, and come within two points of Los Angeles in the standings (85 to 83).

It will also be the 100th game between Southern California’s two NHL franchises.
Continue reading “Kings-Ducks IV: Get worked up, unless you’re playing tomorrow.” »

Schultz among 10 Hobey Baker finalists.

Ducks defenseman prospect Justin Schultz was named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in the NCAA.

The University of Wisconsin sophomore had been partnered in Madison with defenseman Jake Gardiner, a 2008 first-round draft pick by the Ducks who was packaged with Joffrey Lupul in the trade that brought Francois Beauchemin back to Anaheim. Gardiner was deemed expendable in part because of the development of Schultz, who leads all NCAA defensemen with 18 goals and 47 points.

The other finalists are: Cam Atkinson, Boston College, junior forward; Carter Camper, Miami (Ohio), senior forward; Jack Connolly, Minnesota Duluth, junior forward; Matt Frattin, North Dakota, senior forward; Andy Miele, Miami (Ohio), senior forward; Gustav Nyquist, Maine, junior forward; Chase Polacek, RPI, senior forward; Paul Thompson, New Hampshire, senior forward; and Paul Zanette, Niagara, senior forward.

More on Schultz from the press release on the UW website:
Continue reading “Schultz among 10 Hobey Baker finalists.” »

Murray chosen as an assistant for Team Canada at worlds.

Ducks general manager Bob Murray will be part of the management team assisting former Ducks executive Dave Nonis for the upcoming IIHF World Championship, Hockey Canada announced Thursday. The tournament will take place April 29-May 15 in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia.

Nonis, currently the senior vice president of hockey operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs, will be the GM. Recently retired defenseman Rob Blake and Brad Pascall, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey operations/national teams, will also be part of the management team.

“I’m honored to represent Canada at the World Championships,” Murray said in a statement. “I hope to be able to support Dave as best I can and look forward to putting the team together.”

Prior to joining the Maple Leafs front office, Nonis was the Anaheim Ducks’ senior advisor of hockey operations from June to December 2008. He left for Toronto with Brian Burke after Burke accepted the Maple Leafs’ general manager position.

According to Hockey Canada, the four managers have started scouting and evaluating players and staff with the expectation of naming its staff, including coaches, in March and players in early April. Additional players could also be added after the first round of the NHL playoffs.

The team will assemble in Europe on April 22, and play in two pre-competition games, on April 24 vs. France in Paris and on April 27 vs. the Czech Republic in Prague. Canada will be based in Kosice, Slovakia for the preliminary round.

Ducks 2, St. Louis 1.

Ray Emery is back.

That was the takeaway from his 30-save performance Wednesday that preserved a 2-1 victory in an often ugly game for the Ducks.

Jason Blake scored both Anaheim goals, finishing a second-period breakaway with a backhand shot that went in off a Blues defenseman, and deflecting a Lubomir Visnovsky shot down and in in the third period. But even he was in a deferential mood after Emery’s big breakthrough.

Emery’s reflexes did not look like those of a man who had not started an NHL game since Feb. 1 of last year. Nor did the time off leave him any less feisty — Emery was shoving players out of his own crease before assuming the butterfly position in the blink of an eye. It takes a special athlete to do that under ordinary circumstances, but even more so when you have a piece of bone from your leg lodged in your right hip.

Between Emery and Dan Ellis, the Ducks can breathe a bit easier about Jonas Hiller’s slow recovery time. The goalie told reporters at this morning’s skate that he “is going in the right direction” but still can’t see the puck well enough to play.

With only 12 games left in the season, the Ducks occupy the eighth position in the West but still have Calgary and Nashville nipping at their heels. Both the Flames and Preds play tomorrow, and the Ducks could find themselves back in 10th place after their day off.

But should the Ducks make the playoffs (and should Hiller be healthy by then), they could have three goalies capable of starting Game 1 of a first-round series. It’s a good problem to have, one that seemed unlikely when Curtis McElhinney and Timo Pielmeier were manning the nets.

Get all the game details in tomorrow’s editions. Some notes and observations:
Continue reading “Ducks 2, St. Louis 1.” »

Perry named ‘Third Star of the Week.’

Corey Perry was named the NHL’s third star of the week on Monday. Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby earned the number one star and Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin was named the second star.

Here’s the official release from the league:

Perry led all goal scorers with five and added two assists as Anaheim (37-27-5, 79 points) won twice in three starts. Perry scored in each game, beginning with two goals and one assist in a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers Mar. 9. He recorded one goal and one assist in a 6-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche Mar. 11 and finished the week with a two-goal effort in a 5-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes Mar. 13. Perry ranks fifth in League scoring with 75 points (36-39–75) in 69 games.

Coyotes 5, Ducks 2.

Seeing Ilya Bryzgalov face the Ducks is no longer a novelty. Sunday marked the 22nd start for Bryz against the team that placed him on waivers in Nov. 2007. Statistically, the 30-year-old goalie has had better starts in Anaheim, but the Ducks have rarely looked so frustrated against their former backup goalie.

The biggest reason: Their own goaltending wasn’t so spectacular. Dan Ellis was off, allowing four goals on 21 shots over two periods before giving way to Ray Emery. Emery, making his first start since Feb. 1, 2010, played the entire third period and appeared to be on, stopping all nine shots he faced.

By then it was too late. The Coyotes (36-23-11, 83 points) denied any notions of another third-period comeback by the Ducks (37-37-5, 79 points), and gained a four-point cushion on their rivals with a 5-2 victory.

“They sat back and played a defensive-style game,” Ducks center Todd Marchant said of the third period. “They put the puck around the boards, around the rim quite a bit, chipped it by our defense. We had a tough time in the third sustaining any kind of forecheck. You can point your finger at Bryz. He played really well for them. We put 39 [actually 38] shots on net, a lot of them were point-blank opportunities, and he made some good saves. That’s not an excuse, but it’s a reality of the game.”
Continue reading “Coyotes 5, Ducks 2.” »

So far, no dj vu for Ducks.

On the eve of today’s game in Denver, with about a month to go in the regular season, the Ducks are in a roughly similar position to a year ago.

The 2009-10 team started slowly, climbed up to ninth place in the standings in February, and were three points out of eighth place by March 1. This year’s group started slowly, climbed as high as third in February, and were three points out of eighth place by March 1. The Ducks could be sitting in eighth place again tonight if they beat the Avalanche. (Of course, so could the Stars, Kings or Wild, depending on how things go.)
Continue reading “So far, no dj vu for Ducks.” »