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.”
The Ducks have extended the contract of minor-league defenseman Nate Guenin for two years. Guenin will make $525,000 in the NHL and $175,000 in the AHL.
Although he never played a game in a Ducks uniform last season, Guenin played heavy minutes for the Syracuse Crunch after arriving in a January trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 28-year-old had two goals and 12 points in 43 games for the Crunch, along with 44 penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating. He was among the “Black Aces” that were recalled from Syracuse for the Ducks’ first-round series against Nashville but did not play.
Guenin has two assists, eight penalty minutes and a minus-3 in 17 career NHL games with the Blue Jackets, Penguins and Flyers.
At his post-skate presser, Randy Carlyle at once declined to name his starter and explained why he doesn’t: “I’m sure that Barry Trotz and his staff have dissected what all three of our goalies have done. They probably had to do more work because we know who’s going to play for Nashville.”
Brandon McMillan is definitely skating at right wing. I think I might have mistakenly penciled him down on the left side earlier, maybe because that’s the only position other than center he’s played in his first NHL season. Switching a productive two-way center to the right side in favor of another rookie (Bonino) who hasn’t scored a point in the NHL all season is a bit unexpected, assuming Beleskey, Bonino and McMillan are in the lineup tonight against Nashville.
In a minor trade for the Ducks but a big trade for the Syracuse Crunch, center Trevor Smith has been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Nate Guenin.
Guenin has played three NHL games this season for Columbus, all in October, and will report directly to the Ducks’ AHL affiliate. A former third-round draft pick by the New York Rangers in 2002, Guenin has appeared in 17 NHL games beginning in 2006-07 with the Philadelphia Flyers. He has no goals, two assists and a minus-3 rating at the NHL level.
In 30 AHL games this season, all with the Springfield Falcons, Guenin has no goals and five assists with 21 penalty minutes.
The Crunch lose their leading scorer in Smith, who has 12 goals and 27 points in 35 games this season. Syracuse figures to get help at center from Nick Bonino, whom the Ducks demoted Monday.
The Syracuse Post-Dispatch reports that the Ducks are recalling right wing Dan Sexton, though the team hasn’t made an official announcement. Sexton has seven goals and 15 points in 14 AHL games this season.