Day 3: Forward lines and defense pairs. Update.

For the first time all camp, you can put a lot of stock into these.

The Black Team is suiting up for tomorrow night’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes. The White Team is not. Should anyone be worried that the Black team lost 7-2 in the intrasquad scrimmage? Only if you’re on the Black Team, perhaps, but Randy Carlyle wanted to trot out a younger lineup in the Ducks’ preseason debut – probably with an eye toward the first round of roster cuts.

That means if fans want to get a glimpse of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Jonas Hiller, Todd Marchant, George Parros, Jason Blake, Kyle Chipchura, Andy Sutton, Sheldon Brookbank – and a couple others who will probably start the season in the NHL – the time is 10 a.m. tomorrow at Anaheim ICE. They get the night off.*

Bobby Ryan, Aaron Voros, Lubomir Visnovsky, Paul Mara and Ryan Carter won’t be there, since they will be with leading youngsters into battle at the morning skate tomorrow at Honda Center.

Without further ado, then:
Continue reading “Day 3: Forward lines and defense pairs. Update.” »

Phoenix 4, Ducks 0.

Looking as if they’re not in the same league as the Pacific Division leaders, the Ducks laid an egg in Phoenix, their second straight loss coming out of the Olympic break.

Ilya Bryzgalov recorded his second shutout against his former team this season, stopping all 32 shots he faced in a masterful performance. The Ducks failed to convert on seven power-play attempts. The Coyotes got goals from Petr Prucha, Wojtek Wolski, Vern Fiddler and Keith Yandle, with Prucha’s goal late in the first period coming on a 5-on-4 power play.

Jonas Hiller stopped 26 of 30 shots, including a few great saves, but was left out to dry by his defense on several occasions.

Phoenix 4, Ducks 0.

A day after one of their most inspiring efforts of the season, the Ducks were flat from start to finish in Glendale.

There must have been some magic in the snow, because the Ducks left it all behind in Colorado after coming back to beat the Avalanche 4-2 on Tuesday. They couldn’t score on former teammate Ilya Bryzgalov, who needed only 21 saves to record his league-leading fifth shutout of the season.

Outshot 11-7 and 13-6 in the first two periods, respectively, the Ducks (15-15-7) did a better job controlling the zone in the third period, when they kept the shot count even at 8. But Phoenix’s suffocating defense, combined with some sloppy puck-moving — possibly fatigue-induced — kept the Ducks from scoring the goal needed to spark another comeback.

The recently reliable second line of Bobby Ryan, Saku Koivu and Dan Sexton combined to put one shot on Bryzgalov all night.

On the other end, Jonas Hiller wasn’t as sharp as he was in Denver, stopping 25 of 28 before giving way to Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 8:02 left in the third period. Giguere let in a power-play goal to Robert Lang to provide the final score, the only goal he allowed on four shots.

The Ducks get a couple days off before facing the Sharks in San Jose on Saturday.

Suddenly, Ducks looking like a fastbreak team.

It could have been a product of the Phoenix Coyotes’ defense. It could have been a product of the Ducks’ team speed. It could have been an aberration, or it could be a turning point.

Whatever the case, the Ducks had not scored four goals in regulation for more than a month — and only six times all season –before Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Phoenix. Two came on the power play which, considering the Ducks were up a man for more than 11 minutes, is to be expected.

The other two came not from the dump-and-grind style that became the Ducks’ trademark under Randy Carlyle, one that had other teams bulking up to push and prod their way to the net after the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007. Both were breakaway plays, dependent upon up-and-down speed by Kyle Chipchura and Matt Brown as much as their persistence.

Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov did well to turn away many more breakout scoring chances by the Ducks, who scarcely held the territorial advantage.They were outshot 30-15 through two periods before several third-period penalties to Phoenix allowed Anaheim to settle into the offensive zone.
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Ducks 4, Phoenix 2.

Mike Brown, Kyle Chipchura, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan scored goals, and Jonas Hiller withstood a 41-shot barrage, as the Ducks gained a badly needed two points in regulation.

Even though the Ducks always beat Phoenix at home (the Coyotes extended their streak of futility at The Pond to five wins in their last 20 games here — a span of about five years), they did so in a very un-Duck-like fashion.

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Ducklings migrating from San Antonio

Some of the Ducks’ top prospects are flying north this winter.

Denied ice time by the Phoenix Coyotes’ prospects playing in San Antonio — the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate — Matt Beleskey, Troy Bodie and Brett Festerling have been re-assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Additionally, Ryan Donally will be assigned to ECHL affiliate Bakersfield.

The Coyotes under new head coach Dave Tippett have gone with an older lineup, and several former young NHLers (Kyle Turris, Viktor Tikhonov, Mikkel Boedker, et. al.) have spent most or all of the season in San Antonio.

The Toronto Marlies are the AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Coyotes 3, Ducks 2, shootout.

Radim Vrbata scored the only goal in the shootout, and the Ducks left Glendale with a point in the standings following a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Ilya Bryzgalov was perfect in the shootout, and the former Duck engaged Jonas Hiller in a nifty goalies’ duel through 65 minutes. Bryzgalov stopped 32 of 34 and Hiller stopped 30 of 32 in his second start in as many nights.

Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne scored for the Ducks. Selanne’s goal, with 9:47 left in the third period, gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead that seemed sure to hold up. Then Phoenix’s Vernon Fiddler scored a mere 18 seconds later, tapping a rebound past Hiller to re-tie the game at 2.

Evgeny Artyukhin returned to the Ducks’ lineup following a three-game suspension, joining Todd Marchant and Petteri Nokelainen on the third line. In another significant lineup move, Bobby Ryan re-joined Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the top line and stayed there, logging 18:44 of ice time.