Phoenix 7, Ducks 4.

The first game of the NHL preseason is a haphazard ritual, its beauty comparable to gargling the morning breath out of one’s mouth at the crack of dawn, its timing and coordination no better than of a pack of hyenas attempting to divide a carcass of raw meat.

There is no need here to romanticize the hockey-viewing experience of 12,544 announced spectators at Honda Center — it was pretty ugly — but there were a few takeaways.

First, the quick and dirty game synopsis:

Igor Bobkov played roughly the first 30 minutes and John Gibson played the last 30. It was the first NHL game action of any sort for either goalie (Bobkov was at last year’s NHL camp and did not appear in an exhibition game), but the seven goals couldn’t totally be pinned on them. “We’ve got to work on defensive-zone coverage. That’s what we have to work on, obviously,” head coach Randy Carlyle said.

Sean Zimmerman, Kyle Palmieri, Andrew Cogliano and Nate Guenin scored goals for the Ducks, who never led in the game. The offensive effort wasn’t much to blink at, either.

“We just seemed to be slapping the puck around in too many situations,” Carlyle said. “From our standpoint it’s an evaluation game.”

On with the evaluating then …
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Updates on Foster, Ryan, Macenauer; plan for tomorrow.

Kurtis Foster will have a procedure later
today at UCI Medical Center to remove a piece of wire from his left
thigh, the Ducks announced Monday, and the defenseman is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Foster hasn’t been taking part in drills since training camp opened Saturday.

A team spokesperson said the wire was placed in Foster’s left leg during surgery that took place
to repair a fracture in March
2008. The wire was causing inflammation/irritation, and therefore will
be removed.

A two to four week timetable projects to Oct. 3 at the earliest and Oct. 17 at the latest. The Ducks play a preseason game in Helsinki on Oct. 4 and do not play in North America again until Oct. 14, a home game against San Jose. Foster’s availability for the Europe trip seems to be in jeopardy, which would open a door for the other defensemen bidding for an opening-day roster spot.

Some more injury updates:
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Ducks sign Cogliano to three-year, $7.17M deal.

If there was still a question as to how much the Ducks liked Andrew Cogliano when they acquired him from Edmonton, the team answered it Tuesday in the form of a three-year, $7.17 million contract.

Cogliano becomes the Ducks’ sixth-highest paid forward in terms of his annual salary-cap hit ($2.39 million). He was scheduled to go to arbitration Thursday and was clearly seeking a substantial raise from the $1 million, one-year deal he signed with Edmonton prior to last season. Cogliano’s new deal pays $2.15 million this season, $2.35 in 2012-13 and $2.67 in 2013-14.

Only forward Bobby Ryan and defenseman Luca Sbisa (both signed through 2014-15) have longer contracts with the Ducks.

For a longer discussion of Cogliano’s merits and potential linemates, click here.

Ducks trade for Cogliano, sign Drouin-Deslauriers, etc.

The Ducks took their biggest step toward addressing their biggest area of need this summer today, trading a second-round draft pick in 2013 to the Edmonton Oilers for center Andrew Cogliano.

The 24-year-old has never missed a game in four NHL seasons – all with Edmonton – while racking up 57 goals, 146 points and 137 penalty minutes. Listed at 5-foot-10, Cogliano compares favorably to recently-retired forward Todd Marchant, another player whose two-way game evolved in Edmonton before he arrived in Anaheim.

“I’ve matured as a player,” Cogliano said. “At this point in my career, I can create offense but also take up the def side of things. I played a lot of penalty kill last year. I feel like I can contribute at both ends of the rink.”

In Cogliano and Brandon McMillan, the Ducks now have two viable options for the third-line center position. McMillan finished a strong rookie campaign with 11 goals and 21 points, but his 38.9 percent success rate in the faceoff circle was the lowest on the team. Cogliano only won 41.6 percent of draws last season, but his 461 faceoff wins were the most of any Oiler, and that figure should reasonably increase if he’s surrounded by better and hungrier players.

Cogliano also scored 18 goals in each of his first two NHL seasons before dipping to 10 and 11 the last two years, respectively.

The Ducks’ third- and fourth-line positions – arguably their biggest area of weakness in the playoffs – are more clear but still a little muddy. Cogliano and enforcer George Parros are all but locks; so are youngsters Brandon McMillan, Dan Sexton and Matt Beleskey if they don’t take a step backwards, and Jean-Francois Jacques. There could be one or two open positions –for a fourth-line center, or a third- or fourth-line left wing — with a decent crop of candidates lying in the AHL and junior ranks.

Considering his two-way potential and his faceoff skills, it’s safe to say that adding Cogliano should allow McMillan to switch to either the left or right wing. Counting those two, along with Beleskey, Dan Sexton, Kyle Palmieri or perhaps Emerson Etem -to name just four candidates -the Ducks could have a young third line with above-average speed.

“We dabbled in this a bit over the last year and a half,” general manager Bob Murray said. “The biggest thing for us is speed. We tried to increase our team speed the last couple of years and we really haven’t accomplished that. He can definitely skate.”
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