Same story, different night. Ducks go down early blah blah, power play ineffective blah blah, penalty late in game blah blah, iffy goaltending blah blah, etc.
The only change to this all too familiar script is that the Ducks welcomed back their former superstar goalie, Jean-Sebatien Giguere, to Honda Center since his early 2010 trade to Toronto. I can only surmise that the Ducks still have a soft spot for Jiggy because they didn't make it a very difficult victory for him. Giguere stopped 18 of 20 shots, and those two goals came when the game was pretty much out of reach (i.e. two goal lead) for this iteration of the Ducks. I miss those days when a two goal lead felt like no big deal, now it's certain death.
Anyway, Bruce Boudreau's attempt to shake things up by throwing the top two lines in a blender didn't work. We started the game with Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Corey Perry and Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Teemu Selanne, only to see the Ducks go down 0-3 with those line combos. Boudreau went back to more conventional line pairings with Ryan-Koivu-Selanne (the only line on the ice for the Ducks two goals) and Perry-Getzlaf-Cogliano(??). Long story short, nothing new because nothing works.
Happy 'effing New Year, Ducks.
-- With the triumphant return of Saku Koivu, the Selanne-Koivu-Ryan line picked up right where they left off. As I said in the open, they were the only line on the ice for both of the Ducks goals, making them the only plus players on the Ducks. Ryan had a goal and an assist. Koivu had two assists and tied with Andrew Cogliano for the team lead in face off percentage at 50%.
-- The Ducks out-hit the Avs 29-19. The team leader in hits was, of course, Lubomir Visnovski and Andrew Gordon with 4 each...wha? Gordon I can see, Lubo not so much. All Ducks except for two were credited with at least one hit tonight.
-- After the Avs scored their 3rd goal in the second period, Boudreau called a timeout and really let the Ducks have it, f-boms and all. He was turning a shade of pinkish purple that couldn't be identified. Who gives a crap if the team's self esteem is low? They need a big time ass kicking that comes from someone other than the other team.
-- I never thought I would be happy to see the Sharks come to town. 3-0 versus the Sharks this season. I know, I don't get it either.
-- I saw waaay too many suicide passes tonight in the defensive zone. Instead of long stretch passes moving the puck up the ice, there were short passes directly in front of or through the crease.
-- Now is the appropriate time to have the Jonas Hiller versus Dan Ellis conversation. Ellis should get his shot until he doesn't deserve it any longer. Hiller doesn't have it. The magic is gone for now. I'm not even going to bring up the "v-word". I don't believe that's a factor in his performance any more, he's just off, and it's time for Ellis to take the reigns.
-- Lubo taking a penalty with less than two minutes to go in the third was very Getzlaf-esque. I thought that Lubo should have taken the body, without wrapping his arms and stick around the other player, and then let him take the shot.
-- Getzlaf is an anomaly. I thought he played awful when paired with Selanne and Hagman. He picked it up once paired with Perry, but still nothing remarkable. He had another atrocious night in the face off circle, 5 for 14 (36%), yet he had 3 blocked shots.
-- Penalty kill continues to slip going 1 for 2 tonight. The power play remains lifeless going 0 for 2.
-- Putting Andrew Cogliano on the top line was just a bad idea. I tweeted that and someone responded to me with "he skates faster than his brain can think". So true. Guy has zero puck control and looks like a faster version of Matt Beleskey. No more. He does not give the Ducks the best chance to win as a partner to the The Twins.
-- The Ducks were boo'd off the ice - again - by a fanbase that is seen as apathetic. If you can get even the bandwagoners boo-ing, you know you're bad. I would have boo'd if I was there.