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.
Continue reading

Stars 4, Ducks 3.

It’s never a good day when a coach is asked to recall an overturned goal that went against his team, and has to specify which one.

It hasn’t been a good weekend for Randy Carlyle and the Ducks.

Back-to-back losses to the Sharks and Stars have put their playoff plans on hold, and this one was frustrating on a couple counts. Namely, Teemu Selanne’s goal at 17:56 of the third period and Bobby Ryan’s goal at 19:11, neither of which counted in the eyes of referee Brad Meier.

Those tended to overshadow the goals that counted — by Lubomir Visnovsky, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — and the fact the Ducks played like a group worn down by Saturday night’s loss in San Jose. The low point was probably a 5-on-3 shift spanning 80 seconds of the middle period during which the Ducks couldn’t get off a shot from within 20 feet of Kari Lehtonen.

Ray Emery (27 saves) lost his second game as a Duck, second game of the season, and second in as many days.

Tomorrow’s game story focuses on the reaction in the Ducks’ room to the calls by Meier, whose crew also missed a too many men on the ice call against Dallas in the second period. There was plenty of steam to be blown off, and Carlyle instructed his players to “do nothing” tomorrow — no practice, no golf — just recharge the batteries for another game against the Sharks on Wednesday, with a playoff berth at stake again.

A few more notes:
Continue reading

Ducks 3, Avalanche 2.

One second remained on the clock in a 3-2 game, a perfect time for divine intervention.

“All of a sudden the puck came out of nowhere and hit me on the side of the head,” Ducks goalie Dan Ellis said. “I heard it hit a post. I was just praying that it hit the right post. Thank God it stayed out.”

Indeed, in a game the Ducks had to win, Milan Hejduk’s late shot off the post might have been the turning point. Should Anaheim reach the playoffs, it will be a moment to remember. So too will Todd Marchant’s first goal of the season, Brandon McMillan’s game-winner, and Erik Johnson’s bone-headed giveaway that led to Ryan Getzlaf’s goal in the first period.

Often, the rest wasn’t pretty. Ellis finished with 22 saves but he was outplayed by his counterpart for the second time in as many games as a Duck. Peter Budaj made 11 of his 29 saves on the power play and could hardly be blamed for the Avs’ 13th loss in their last 14 games.

The Ducks snapped a five-game losing streak and won for the first time without injured goalie Jonas Hiller since Curtis McElhinney backstopped a 5-4 overtime win in Calgary. They remained one point behind the 72-point cutoff for the eighth and final playoff spot.

With the Ducks on the power play at 11:23 of the third period, McMillan broke a 2-2 tie, scoring on a putback after Budaj came out aggressively after allowing a rebound to the right of the net.

The rookie center was only out on the power play because Saku Koivu missed his third straight game with a groin injury. Yet he, Bobby Ryan and Jason Blake (and defensemen Luca Sbisa and Francois Beauchemin) turned it into a minute-long cycle play that wore down the Colorado PK with Brandon Yip serving a double-minor for high-sticking Beauchemin.

Considering the Ducks were outshot 23-19 at even strength –and only had one power-play goal to show for their previous six games –it was a badly needed goal.

“We found a way to score a big power play goal to win us the hockey game,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “That is what you have to do. You have to find ways to get points at this time of the year. Hopefully this is a springboard for our hockey club to get back to playing the way we are quite capable of playing.”

Marchant’s goal ended a streak of 70 games without a goal. The goal, the 186th of his career, came at the end of a give-and-go with Sbisa. The defenseman jumped up in the rush and backhanded the puck to Marchant, streaking down the slot; Marchant needed only get a sliver of stick on the puck to re-direct it past Budaj.

“It’s certainly the longest drought of my career,” Marchant said. “I’m not sure what it was prior to this, but it wasn’t anywhere near this. I didn’t let it get me down mentally. I know I’ve got many other roles on this team besides scoring goals. The bottom line is it’s about wins this time of the year. It’s not about how many goals or assists I get. It’s about winning hockey games, getting into the playoffs and see how far it takes you.”

A few more notes:
Continue reading

Wild 3, Ducks 2, OT.

Setting aside Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s breakaway goal in overtime for a moment, the Ducks did well to salvage a point against the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Two minutes away from a regulation loss on home ice, the Ducks forced overtime to remain one point behind eighth place in the Western Conference.

However, the three teams ahead of them– Chicago, Dallas and Nashville –all have one game in hand. And their slide from first place in the division (and third in the conference) on Feb. 13 to fifth place in the division (11th in the conference) shouldn’t sit well.

Remember 10 days ago how there was that 2-point gap between first and fifth place in the Pacific Division? It’s a 9-point gap now.

“We have to look at the positives,” said defenseman Francois Beauchemin, whose putback goal with 2:00 left in the third period allowed the Ducks to tie the game at 2 and force overtime. “We got one point. That is not enough, but we’ll take that. We’ll have a good practice tomorrow and go back to work on Sunday. We have to take it one game at a time.”

One positive is that it’s looking easier to blame the goaltending. Even with Saku Koivu’s groin injury keeping him out of the lineup a second straight day, the Ducks put 48 shots on Jose Theodore — two off their season high.

Is Dan Ellis an upgrade over Curtis McElhinney as a temporary starter? Obviously Bob Murray thought so before making the trade with Tampa on Thursday (and was rewarded today with a four-year contract extension). Clayton Stoner’s go-ahead goal with 4:57 left in the third period might disagree.

Ellis stopped 28 of 31 in his Ducks debut, a respectable .903 save percentage. He could hardly be blamed for John Madden’s first-period goal at the end of a 2-on-1 rush, but all three goals he allowed came on the rush with nobody standing between him and the shooter.

So why is being able to isolate the goaltending a positive again? Jonas Hiller is working his way back from what he’s been told is a case of vertigo, and that’s treatable. Hiller doesn’t even have to board a plane for a while; the Ducks are at home until March 9, play once in Denver, then come back to Southern California for their next four games.

In the meantime, all the Ducks really have to do is keep it close in the standings. That should be the plan, at least. Maybe this team can win without Hiller — it’s now 0-4-1 since Hiller last went on IR — but as Corey Perry said, “it’s a matter of finding those bounces again that we were getting early on when we were winning.”

A few more notes:
Continue reading

Minneosta 5, Ducks 1.

The Ducks’ momentum officially took a turn for the worse Friday.

If the excuse of a back-and-forth game against a high-scoring Washington Capitals squad served as an excuse in Wednesday’s 7-6 loss in Anaheim, it was tougher to justify a 5-1 loss on the road to Minnesota. Corey Perry deflected a Bobby Ryan shot past Niklas Backstrom 3:30 into the game, but the Wild answered with five straight – including two on the power play and one short-handed – to ice the game.

Curtis McElhinney stopped 21 of 26 shots and looked no less vulnerable Friday than he did two days earlier. He allowed goals on consecutive shots by Eric Nystrom and Kyle Brodziak 27 seconds apart in the second period, making it a 4-1 game, and prompting Randy Carlyle to call timeout. Carlyle allowed his goalie to stay in, but one has to figure that the leash on McElhinney is a bit shorter now. Timo Pielmeier served as the backup for the second straight game, and he might well be the starter tomorrow night when the Ducks visit St. Louis.

Former Duck Matt Cullen, Martin Havlat and Mikko Koivu also scored for Minnesota. Koivu scored at 5:01 of the first period, then blocked an Andy Sutton shot at 7:09 and didn’t return. But the Ducks (32-23-4) couldn’t take advantage of a Wild squad (31-22-5) missing its best player.

The back-to-back losses mean the Ducks are still stuck in the same 68-point logjam at the bottom of the tight Western Conference playoff picture.

A few more notes:
Continue reading

The Ducks’ defensemen dilemma; evaluating Beauchemin.

Nine is a good number of personnel to have if you’re managing a baseball team, but if you’re counting defensemen on an NHL team, it’s best to stop at seven or eight.

Virtually unprompted, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle was quick to note this morning that his blue line numbers nine (Carlyle had been asked where Francois Beauchemin will ultimately land in the lineup, and we’ll get to that in a bit). When the topic was brought up again later in his post-practice presser, Carlyle said that he has never dealt with that many defensemen as an NHL head coach.

The closest comparison he could draw was from his days as head coach and general manager of the Manitoba Moose, preparing for the AHL and IHL postseasons with a surplus of blue-liners.

“Some days the coach’s job is expanded a little bit, and changes on a day to day basis,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have enough, and when you have a wealth of them it’s a pain at times, but it’s one of those pains that you’d rather have too many than too little.”
Continue reading

Ducks 5, Calgary 4, OT.

Cam Fowler’s goal with 18.6 seconds left in overtime allowed the Ducks to clinch a back-and-forth battle in a hostile environment.

Saku Koivu scored a pair of goals, Brandon McMillan scored short-handed, and Teemu Selanne’s power-play goal with 2:07 left in the third period sent the game to overtime tied at 4.

Curtis McElhinney got the start with a healthy Jonas Hiller serving as the backup. He got help from a post in the third period, a missed breakaway opportunity in overtime, and finished with 21 saves. Rene Bourque, Olli Jokinen, Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross scored the Flames’ goals.

Calgary lost for just the second time in its last 10 games and suffered the same fate as conference-leading Vancouver two days before. Anaheim can complete the Western Canada sweep Sunday in Edmonton – an easy one to overlook but also the most winnable game of an otherwise tough trip.

A few more notes: 
Continue reading

Ducks 4, Vancouver 3.

Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks didn’t ease into anything in Vancouver.

The captain played 21:45 in his first game since Dec. 28, and the Ducks used a big lead to help hold off the Canucks. Getzlaf’s only point was this beautiful assist on Bobby Ryan’s first goal of the game, which gave the Ducks a 3-0 lead at 4:12 of the second period.

He also made an impact on Dan Hamhuis, planting the defenseman dangerously into the end boards on this shoulder-on-shoulder check. There’s already a debate raging over whether or not it was a clean hit.

Ryan had two goals, Jason Blake and Brandon McMillan had the others, and Curtis McElhinney made 16 of his 36 saves in the final period.

A few more notes:
Continue reading

Ducks activiate Getzlaf, send Voros to Syracuse.

Aaron Voros was deemed the odd man out today when the Ducks activated captain Ryan Getzlaf from injured reserve as expected. Voros, who cleared waivers this morning, was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

The 29-year-old hasn’t played a game in the minors since 2007-08 when the Minnesota Wild sent him to their AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, for 12 games.

Voros missed nearly two months with a broken orbital bone, suffered in a Dec. 8 fight at Vancouver. He returned to play one game with the Ducks on Feb. 2 against San Jose, going scoreless.

Voros’ demotion means the Ducks will carry nine defensemen and the minimum 12 forwards into tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin, acquired earlier today from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Joffrey Lupul, will be scratched as he is en route to Western Canada.

Five things about the Joffrey Lupul-Francois Beauchemin trade.

The Ducks will be posting a complete transcript of this morning’s conference calls with Francois Beauchemin and general manager Bob Murray soon.

In the meantime, here are five things you need to know:

1. Beauchemin isn’t playing tonight. He’s flying to Vancouver today, then will hopefully practice with the Ducks tomorrow and play Friday night in Calgary, Murray said.

2. Murray said he determined the Ducks were a playoff team when they rallied in January with captain Ryan Getzlaf on injured reserve. Then he determined the team needed the most help on defense now – but not down the road, with youngsters Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa and prospect Nick Schultz developing well. That made Jake Gardiner expendable. “We gave them a good young prospect here,” Murray said. “We feel we’re really deep at that position of prospects, on defense.”

3. Including Beauchemin, the Ducks have nine defensemen. Asked if another move was in the works, Murray said “nothing’s imminent.” So it looks like there will be eight defensemen and 13 forwards available tonight in Vancouver. Left wing Aaron Voros, who cleared waivers this morning, might be back in the lineup.

4. Beauchemin admitted he “didn’t really like it” when the Ducks didn’t match the Maple Leafs’ offer to him in free agency in June 2009. But he liked Anaheim enough to put the Ducks on his list of 12 teams he would accept a trade to. “Bob (Murray) was the guy who mentioned to (Brian Burke) in that (Sergei) Fedorov deal, to include me in it, because he saw me playing the American League five, six years ago,” Beauchemin said, “and our relationship hasn’t really changed.”

5. Lupul said he has “a lot to prove” to a Ducks team that “just let me go after 20 games.” He’ll have to wait – the two teams won’t play each other again this season.