More Marchant.

In case you missed my looking back/looking forward “obituary” of the Ducks’ 2010-11 season today, click here.

Left off from the end of the story (likely for space) was this quote from Todd Marchant explaining why he isn’t guaranteed to come back: “I don’t know what the future holds for me. I’ll sit back, take some time, really evaluate where I’m at. Make a decision whether I want to continue playing or choose the other course. I think that’s not an easy decision to make. It’s not an easy decision to make certainly.”

… and this kicker wrapping it all together:


Marchant was integral to the Ducks’ penalty kill. To a lesser extent, so were Sutton, Brookbank, Lilja and impending free agents Jarkko Ruutu and Kyle Chipchura. Their jobs are not high-profile, but they were directly responsible for the team defense that needs to improve if the Ducks want to achieve their goal.

“We’re not an organization that just believes in making the playoffs and that’s OK,” Murray said. “That’s not good enough at this moment.”

Back to Marchant for a moment.
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Game 2 morning skate notes.

Count on Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle making more adjustments in Game 2 than his Nashville counterpart, Barry Trotz. That’s the expectation, at least, in light of the Predators’ 4-1 win in Game 1.

The first change figures to be in goal. Ray Emery was the first of the Ducks’ three goalies — four, if you include Igor Bobkov’s late cameo — to leave the ice at the morning skate Friday. Emery’s last playoff game was in this same building on June 6, 2007, when the Ducks beat Emery’s Ottawa Senators in Game 5 to win the Stanley Cup.

There could be more changes in store for the Ducks, but Carlyle declined to say who would be coming out or going into the lineup, if anyone.

Trotz said he has some minor adjustments in store.
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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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Dallas wins, playoffs at stake tomorrow, and more.

The Ducks must wait another day to clinch a playoff berth after the Dallas Stars handed the Colorado Avalanche a 4-2 loss Thursday.

Aside from whether or not they will participate in the postseason, the biggest question facing the Ducks in their home-and-home series against the Kings is who will be in goal.

Ray Emery did not practice Thursday, one day after leaving midway through the Ducks’ 6-2 win over San Jose with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Emery finished the game on the bench, while Dan Ellis finished the final 29 minutes between the pipes.

“I felt a lot better this morning than I thought I would last night,” Emery said Thursday. “It’s a thing where I’m trying to be cautious, because I’m leery of things I’ve had in the past and I want to be able to contribute when I’m in there for a long period of time. It’s more of me being cautious.”

Said head coach Randy Carlyle, “we felt it was best for him to work out off-ice and have a treatment this morning, and we’ll make an assessment tomorrow morning at the morning skate.”

Emery was not the only Ducks player missing at practice.
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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 2, Detroit 1, OT.

Bobby Ryan’s overtime penalty-shot goal — the first OT goal and penalty-shot attempt of his NHL career — lifted the Ducks to a much-needed win. It also lifted the crowd of 15,098 at Honda Center, which might not see another game this good until the playoffs.

Other than Ryan’s goal, defense and goaltending were the story Wednesday. Dan Ellis (28 saves) and Jimmy Howard (26) put on quite a show.

So did the Anaheim penalty-killers, who allowed one goal (and just five shots on net) in nine power-play shifts for the Wings. That included a 1:33 stretch of 5-on-3 play in the first period, and a 1:47 stretch of 4-on-3 play to begin overtime.

Todd Marchant (17:48, 16-10 on faceoffs, three hits) did the yeoman’s work. His ice time probably was going to increase after Saku Koivu (groin) ruled himself out of a fourth straight game. Then the Ducks kept taking penalties, his teammates started struggling in the faceoff circle, and all of a sudden the savvy veteran had to pull more than his own weight in a playoff-type atmosphere.

Jason Blake also scored for the Ducks, on a rising 37-foot slapshot early in the third period that Howard probably didn’t see. Ryan’s goal was his 30th, giving him 30 goals in each of his first three NHL seasons. The Ducks couldn’t have picked anyone better to take the penalty shot, as Ryan went to his trusty forehand to beat Howard glove-side.

“Bobby Ryan is a great player and has a great set of hands on him,” Howard said. “It was a good deke. He capitalized on it.”

More notes in tomorrow’s editions. A few notes that won’t make the paper:
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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:
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Scouting the Sharks.

The Sharks and Ducks meet Sunday for the third time this season, under circumstances very different from any this season or last.

Anaheim has gone 4-1 in its last five games to pull season-high four games over .500. San Jose (21-15-5) has lost two straight, four of six, and just got a tongue-lashing from GM Doug Wilson.

More interesting than how each team is playing is how each team got to this point. Since the teams last met on Nov. 9, rookie forward Logan Couture has 13 goals and eight assists in 29 games to become the Sharks’ leading goal-scorer. They have six forwards (and one defenseman, Dan Boyle) entering play Saturday with at least 27 points – something no other NHL team can claim.

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Ducks 3, Coyotes 1.

The tone was set early, when Jonas Hiller withstood an early barrage of shots, and continued long after Ryan Getzlaf left the ice spilling blood from his forehead.

There were some ugly moments to be sure, but the Ducks had to be pleased with a 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale. Goals by Luca Sbisa (his first in the NHL), Joffrey Lupul and Corey Perry completed the scoring in the first period.

“I’m sure it probably wasn’t our best start, but we were able to brush
it off and found a way to score,” Hiller said after an outstanding 31-save effort, “and at the end everyone was playing well
and sacrificing for the team.”
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Vancouver 5, Ducks 4.

Curtis McElhinney’s misfortune was just the opening the Vancouver Canucks needed.

In the midst of a stellar performance, McElhinney was knocked out when he was struck in the head by Christian Ehrhoff’s shot in the third period. Adding insult to injury, Daniel Sedin scored when the puck bounced right to him off McElhinney’s mask, Ryan Kesler scored on Jonas Hiller in the final minute to tie the game at 4, and Jeff Tambellini potted the game-winner in the shootout.

The surprising turn of events left the Ducks with a tough shootout loss in a game they led 4-2 with eight minutes left in the third period. It also left them without their backup goaltender, at least temporarily, heading into Friday’s game in Anaheim against the Calgary Flames.

McElhinney stopped 24 of 27 and was in line for his third win of the season after goals by Corey Perry, Joffrey Lupul, Teemu Selanne and Cam Fowler.

Kesler’s third-effort goal, with Vancouver skating 6-on-5 with 22 seconds left in the third period, was the only goal Hiller allowed on 13 shots in 12:18 of relief. Tambellini scored the only goal for either side in the shootout.

Lupul’s goal was his first of the season in his third game back. It came one year to the day after his last NHL goal on Dec. 8, 2009, in what proved to be Lupul’s last game of the season.

Todd Marchant had a pair of assists, and Selanne, Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Lubomir Visnovsky and Paul Mara had one helper each.
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