Updates on Beauchemin, goalies, and what went wrong (again).

Francois Beauchemin was the only Ducks player who did not participate in practice Thursday, but head coach Randy Carlyle said the defenseman would be available for Game 2 tomorrow at Honda Center.

“Beauch is resting, what we call a maintenance day. He will skate tomorrow morning and he’s available to us tomorrow night,” Carlyle said.

Beauchemin is dealing with a lower-body injury, the result of blocking a shot during the regular season. “It’s just taking a little more time to heal,” he said. “I’ve been taking medicine for it, and painkillers and stuff. It’s good on game days but on practice days it’s tough to get out there and force it.”

The Ducks’ bigger question is in goal.
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Nashville 4, Ducks 1.

You can pick apart where the Ducks’ playoff opener went wrong: A Matt Beleskey penalty here, a Pekka Rinne save there, a missed assignment or two or three.

Corey Perry, always a man of few words, hit the nail on the head: “We just didn’t have it.”

As it turns out, the Ducks’ late-game magic is predicated on confidence. By the middle of the middle period they had none — confidence or magic — thanks to an outstanding performance by Rinne and the Predators’ disciplined ‘D’.

Even the 5-on-3 power play that preceded Teemu Selanne’s goal in the third period was a haphazard hodgepodge of starts and stops. Fortunately for the Ducks, he and Saku Koivu got it together in time to ruin the shutout.

But Rinne’s intimidation factor remained intact.

“We played really solid defensively and our strength is penalty killing,” said the 6-foot-5 goaltender, who finished with 27 saves. “We did a good job again tonight. We played big, we played physical in our own zone and tried to limit our turnovers. On the other hand, when they turned the puck over, we executed and scored some huge goals and got the momentum going for us. We’ll enjoy this game for a bit and try to get it done in the next game.”

Check out the game details, and a variety of reasons for the Ducks’ letdown from players and coaches, in tomorrow’s editions. Some notes and observations that won’t make the paper:
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Emery ‘not sure’ about Game 1, other notes from practice.

Ray Emery took part in his first full practice Tuesday, one of three Ducks goalies on the ice along with Dan Ellis and Jonas Hiller, but couldn’t commit to being ready for Game 1 Wednesday against the Nashville Predators.

“I’m not sure. We’ll see how it goes when we get there,” said Emery, who has not played since leaving last Wednesday’s game against San Jose with an undisclosed lower-body injury. “I’m just happy with the way practice went today and we’ll go from there.”

Since Hiller has only played in three games since the All-Star Break, that leaves Dan Ellis as the likely starter by default. As usual Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle didn’t say who would get the call, but Ellis is the safe choice given his health and solid performances in wins over the Kings last Friday and Saturday.

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Ducks 3, Kings 1.

The roller-coaster ride is over. Now the fun begins.

The Ducks couldn’t be happier about their position after 82 games — fourth place in the Western Conference, and guaranteed home-ice advantage for the first round — thanks to their win and losses by the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators earlier in the day.

The end result is that the Ducks will either host the Chicago Blackhawks or the Predators in the first round beginning no earlier than Wednesday.

“We found a way to get ourselves into a good position from thinking about where we were a couple months ago,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “You’ve got to credit our players; they’re the ones who put it out on the line night in and night out. It’s about a team that’s trying to work its way through all the hurdles that it’s been presented and now we have an opportunity to play at home.”

Here’s what the roller coaster looked like: The Ducks sat in third place in the West on Feb. 13. They fell as low as 11th and were there as late as March 8. They rejoined the top 8 on March 20 and did not leave. They began the day Saturday in seventh place and had risen to fourth by the end. Along the way there were subplots galore — skill, luck, 50 goals, 40-year-olds, vertigo — and it’s been fascinating to watch it all unfold.

The playoff scenarios are simple. If Chicago beats the Detroit Red Wings Sunday, the Ducks will play the Blackhawks. If Chicago loses, the Ducks play the Predators. That and more in tomorrow’s editions.

Here are a few more notes:
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Ducks 2, Kings 1.

The Ducks are going back to the playoffs.

Forty-year-old right wing Teemu Selanne virtually punched the ticket himself, scoring both goals for the Ducks, who can still finish as high as fourth but no lower than eighth.

Goaltender Dan Ellis made 23 saves in his first start since March 20, and the Ducks relieved the pressure to clinch in their final regular-season game tomorrow at Staples Center.

“It has been a grind for the last three months,” Selanne said. “I really believed that this team deserved to be in the playoffs. This was a big step forward. Now we can breathe a little bit. Tomorrow is another game where we can improve our standing a little bit and maybe get a better seed. We are going to take tomorrow’s game serious too.”

Check out all the game details in tomorrow’s editions. More notes and quotes to come …

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:
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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:
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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.”
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Ducks 5, Rangers 2.

After Lubomir Visnovsky had completed his second career hat trick last Friday, a reporter asked Randy Carlyle about getting that kind of contribution from a player who wasn’t one of the team’s “big guys.”

Maybe a game like Wednesday’s will dispel any doubts about Visnovsky’s stature.

Visnovsky is now tied for the NHL lead in points by a defenseman (54) after his three-point game against the Rangers. Visnovsky and Corey Perry both had two goals and an assist, and Bobby Ryan scored a goal and collected three assists what became a one-sided contest.

“We all have become accustomed to his level of skill when he does shoot the puck,” Carlyle said of Visnovsky. “He shoots it extremely accurately and hard. He gets to play
with a pretty dependable partner in Toni Lydman, who doesn’t really join the rush. That gives him freedom.”

Dan Ellis allowed a 1-on-1 goal to Brandon Dubinsky on the Rangers’ first shot of the game, but regrouped in time to stop 30 of 32. Lydman, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu – seeing his first action after missing the last six games with a groin injury – all had an assist.

As Bobby Ryan said, in what may only have been a slight overstatement – to take nothing away from Ray Emery’s door-opening skills – “Twenty guys contributed tonight.”

Notes and observations:
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Ducks 4, Dallas 3, OT.

The two points were necessary, but not sufficient, to tide the Ducks over until the end of the regular season.

The confidence they gained by winning in overtime for the second straight game might be.

“We want to use this as a confidence boost for us – and the Detroit game,” Teemu Selanne said after the latest OT thriller. “It was a good sign. Hopefully we can keep rolling. This is what we need now because everyone’s playing well.”

None were better Friday than Lubomir Visnovsky, who recorded the first hat trick by a defenseman in franchise history. He capped the trick (pun intended) with the game-winning goal on a booming slapshot past Kari Lehtonen with 3.6 seconds left in overtime. Visnovsky also had an assist on Selanne’s game-tying goal with 1:03 left in regulation.

Visnovsky’s 51 points rank third among all NHL defensemen and his 12 goals now rank fifth among league blueliners, but he had been slumping — just one goal in his last 18 games prior to Friday. And he knew it.

“Last month was not very well for me,” he said. “After the All-Star break, it was a couple tough games. I needed to wake up. This is the best wake-up for me.”

Visnovsky’s second career hat trick came against the same Dallas Stars team he torched for his first, back on Nov. 2, 2005 as a member of the Kings.

The rest of the game had its share of ups and downs for the Ducks. In short, the second period was down, and the other 45 minutes were up. Dan Ellis hung tough to make 23 saves, including a biggie on the breakaway against Trevor Daley with 1:29 left in overtime.

More in tomorrow’s editions. Here are a few notes that won’t make the paper:
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