Chris' Reflections on Gabby's First Game

Holy Cow! I have so much to say about this game, and after a month of not having anything to say about the Ducks, except that they suck, it's a huge relief. I started to comment on Jen's recap post, but once it hit 700 words I figured I should probably just make a separate post. So here are some of my reactions to the Boudreau Era after one game.

Re: Matt Beleskey - He played really well with Teemu and Saku. I don't know what it was; He doesn't have a ton of speed; he's not particularly big, or physical (more on that later) but it just seemed to fit. He did pass up a couple of opportunities to shoot, and stifled at least two 2-on-1's with an extra pass. The guy can wire it and like a certain captain, should do so more often.

If it was up to me though, he wouldn't have the opportunity to for at least a game or two because he should be suspended for that boarding in the first period. It was exactly the same as when Ethan Moreau boarded Chris Kunitz in the Kings/Pens game a few weeks ago. He got him square in the back and raised his arm to deliberately drive the guy's head into the glass. UGLY. Moreau only got the max $2,500 fine though, so maybe Beleskey will get off easy too (but he shouldn't).

Re: Ryan Getzlaf - He played great in this game. He was throwing the body around, winning faceoffs, back checking like a fiend, I can't even remember one no look, behind the back idiot pass. But he needs to learn how to take a penalty and SHUT THE F*** UP. Every penalty the Ducks took was earned (except maybe that Saku interference when he was going in on the 2-on-1 with Teemu *cough*dive*cough*) they didn't get the calls coming back, but s*** happens. Deal with it.

He needs to recognize that the Ducks are getting called for a lot of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. This is his biggest failing as a captain, especially after the diplomacy of Scott Niedermayer. The reason I was in favor of him becoming the captain in the first place is that I thought it could teach him to level out his emotions better. It hasn't. Maybe now that he's being called for it and it is costing the team games, he'll realize that it's a detriment to the team and change his ways, but probably not. He would do himself a lot of favors, to ask himself one simple question before he opens his mouth to berate the referees: What Would Scotty Do?

Re: Boudreau Handling Getzlaf - I have to disagree with Jen here, a little bit. [Ed. Note: Fired.] I do agree that Boudreau will try to mentor him and give him confidence in his game and give him a bunch of ice time and all that, but I don't think that he'll be in a rush to bench Getzy.

Jen has pointed to Boudreau benching Ovie a couple times, but that was for one shift in about four years worth of games, and it was part of his last ditch effort (along with scratching Alexander Semin and Joel Ward) to crack the whip and keep his job. It doesn't seem to be in his character to be a hard ass/disciplinarian type coach, and it didn't work on the Caps when he tried it. They tuned him out and he got fired.

Like I said in my reaction post, hopefully he learned some things from his time in Washington and he'll be able to modulate his coaching style a little bit from the beginning this time, rather than let the horses out of the barn and try to wrangle them back in after they've run wild.

Re: Power Play - I'm all for change in most situations, and I liked the four forwards and Cam PP unit to an extent (mostly that it should spark Bobby's offense) but during the PP at the end of the game Boudreau put RPG with Cam and Beauch to start the power play and actually had to call Teemu off the ice. I cannot disagree with this move more. Teemu needs to be on the PP and he needs to be on the number one unit. Last year he had score lines of 17-18-34 on the PP 31-49-80 overall. That's 54% of his goals, 36% of his assists and 42% of his points with the extra man.

The two things that make Teemu great are his speed and his ability to lurk. Justin Bourne wrote about his ability to find the soft spots on the ice and snipe, last year on Puck Daddy. If you take away one of his most deadly weapons he instantly becomes half the player. Just as importantly, he needs those easy offensive zone minutes. It's easy to forget sometimes but he is 41-years-old and while he is still super quick, he needs to stay fresh enough and active enough to kick it into high gear at even strength. Being on the first PP unit gives him that and allows him to max out his offensive production.

Re: Hits - Holy crap were they hitting last night or what!? I never thought that the Caps under Boudreau were that physical of a team, aside from Ovie running guys over, so it was a bit of a surprise. Maybe it was something Boudreau saw in the Ducks that they could use to their advantage; maybe it was a tactic to dish out some punishment against a Philly team that's always been and always will be known for being physical; or maybe it was just the adrenaline boost of playing for a new coach. Whatever it was, I loved it, lots of clean hard checks from everyone, but especially Getzy, Luca Sbisa and Bobby Ryan. Keep it up boys!

Overall, I think last night's game was pretty good. I know it was heartbreaking, and I know the Refs suck, but there was a clear change in the way that the Ducks played and you could see the Boudreau influence after just one practice and a morning skate. Philly is a good team that will win if you give them nine power plays. There is work to do to get this team out of the cellar, and I still don't think they make the playoffs, but it was only the beginning. Good things are in store for this team if they continue to play like they did last night (minus the penalties).

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