Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ducks Blog at the OC Register,
Checking-line right wing Rob Niedermayer was noticeably absent when the Ducks took the ice for practice Monday at a suburban Dallas rink.
Niedermayer was not even in Texas, though Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Niedermayer would “most likely” take an evening flight from Orange County to Dallas. Niedermayer’s availability for Tuesday night’s third game of an opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center is uncertain because of what the team called only an upper-body injury….
Right wing Corey Perry, meanwhile, could be a long-shot possibility to play Tuesday after having gone through his most demanding practice since suffering a partially severed right-quadriceps tendon March 6.
“There’s a chance. There’s always a chance,” Perry said.
a little more on the Ducks…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been, ahem, hard to hit. Ryan Getzlaf is supposed to be the next big thing, but so far in this series he hasn’t been.
Todd Bertuzzi, on his best days, still takes a dumb penalty for every good play he makes. Scott Niedermayer, one of the best skaters in the history of the NHL, has been caught out of position more than once.
These aren’t the same Ducks, of course.
They’ve made enough changes to add players like Mathieu Schneider, Doug Weight, Jonas Hiller, Bryan Sutherby and Bertuzzi that while the core of the team remains the same, there are some different individual dynamics at work. Team chemistry is a fragile thing and doesn’t necessarily transfer from one season to the next, and so far the Ducks just don’t look as cohesive and focused as they were last spring.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
There was a telling moment in Bryan Murray’s news conference Sunday when the Ottawa Senators’ head coach and general manager was asked about the fact that both of last year’s Stanley Cup finalists are on the ropes this year.
The Anaheim Ducks, who won the 2007 Stanley Cup by beating the Senators in five games, are now, like the Senators, down 2-0 in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Murray pointed out several things troubling the Ducks, who are trailing the Dallas Stars, but he could just as easily been talking about his own team.
“I think everybody learns from the guy [who] won,” he said. “I think what Dallas has done is really neutralize Anaheim’s defence. I think they’ve really pressured them consistently and made them pay for almost every penalty.
from Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Star-Telegram,
His wicked wrister basically wrapped up a 5-2 victory for the Stars on Saturday and, as a result, they are coming back to Dallas with a chance to get out of the first round for the first time since 2003 without having to leave the state again.
“I think it’s huge,” Richards said. “You want to feel wanted and feel like you are contributing.”
He is. And he has.
Don’t look now, but this Stars team suddenly looks different with Richards. Dare I say dangerous?
This is what happens when all three of your big-name, big-money, big-expectation centers come to play in April. Any coach will tell you that kind of depth is almost impossible to stop.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
What’s embarrassing is that the Ducks have not sustained any energy or fire for more than a few minutes here and there, that they’ve been submissive and sloppy when the situation called for assertiveness and precision.
Other than a brief display of the grinding game that has been the foundation of their success and allowed them to tie the score, 2-2, late in the second period, they haven’t put up a fight, figuratively or literally, in these first two games.
They haven’t peppered Dallas goaltender Marty Turco with shots, fought for rebounds, or used their muscle to do more than slam the door to the penalty box.
from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
The inspirational message on the chalkboard in the Ducks’ locker room before their 2008 Stanley Cup playoff opener Thursday was this quote from author Robert Louis Stevenson: “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life.”
After watching the Ducks’ lopsided 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars, a weak first attempt to defend their 2007 Stanley Cup championship, I suggest unveiling a more appropriate quotation before Game 2 on Saturday night at Honda Center.
This one, from noted puckhead Willie Shakespeare, would fit: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
And speaking of the heads that were crowned in June, why did some of the guys in the home black forget to use them Thursday night?
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
In their first playoff game as the defending Stanley Cup champions, facing a team that was imploding during the final month of the season, the Ducks tripped over their own lofty expectations and dissolved into an ugly pile of mush before a stunned crowd that didn’t fill the Honda Center in body or spirit.
All the mistakes the Ducks overcame last spring because their character and scoring power ran so deep were insurmountable for them Thursday night.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Also working against the Ducks is the sword hanging over Pronger, just back from an eight-game suspension for stepping on the leg of Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.
As a multiple offender who served a pair of one-game suspensions last spring, Pronger will be watched closely by NHL officials. A cross-eyed glance at an opponent may get him suspended. Continued poor impulse control could trigger a sentence of five games or more, a loss the Ducks would have difficulty withstanding.
Coach Randy Carlyle said he and Burke talked to Pronger about staying within the rules but neither wants him to change.
“We think that he has to play the game with that competitive edge to continue to be an elite defenseman, and we expect him to do so,” Carlyle said.
Then they’ll have to expect to do without him at least once.
from Marcia C. Smith of the OC Register,
In other news, some local guys in skates start the playoffs Thursday night at Honda Center against the Dallas Stars and … (Cue the crickets, please).
Hello? Hockey? Anyone?
Look around Orange County and listen. Has anyone outside team itself and their loyalists noticed that the Ducks — the defending STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS! — are starting the NHL playoffs?
Where’s the county’s pluck for the puck? Where’s the talk? The energy? The emotion? The fan wearing the orange and black Selanne jersey to pick up milk at the local Ralph’s? The scalpers asking double-face-value for tickets?
Nowhere. Nothing. There’s college-library-like silence. Which is a little surprising from this region renowned for front-running sports enthusiasts.
From Eric Stephens at the LA Times,
The sight of Perry taking part in a couple of drills was encouraging for the Ducks as it appears their leading goal scorer this season could be in position to return sometime during the Western Conference quarterfinals against Dallas.
Perry skated for the first time since his right quadriceps muscle was severed just above the knee when he was cut by the skate of Colorado goaltender Jose Theodore in a game March 6.
“Today, it felt great,” Perry said. “That’s why I stayed out and did a couple of drills with the team. If it continues to be like that, it could be quicker than everybody thinks.”
*Plus more from the LA Times on expectations of a rough series between the Ducks & Stars
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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