Well, that felt good.
I know, we were playing against the Junior Varsity team for the Vancouver Canucks, but the team needed this. In his post game press conference, Randy Carlyle acknowledged the normally offensively loaded team was struggling mightily dressing only one of the two top lines each night. Carlyle told the media that he was continuing to evaluate his younger players, but by not giving them stability in the top two lines he was effectively giving them less of a chance to succeed. Makes sense. The Ducklings have to work even harder against players they normally wouldn't be matched against. Tonight was a confidence booster for everyone. G/B/U after the jump.
-- His name is Jonas. He's carrying the Ducks. (Weezer reference.) This was a great game to ease Jonas Hiller back into the Ducks lineup. Instead of facing a scary Vancouver squad, he was able to face the depth players. It's not like they went easy on him or his teammates helped him out either. Hiller was able to stop all 21 shots he faced in 40 minutes of play. Jeff Deslauriers had a decent night, too. He stopped 7 of 8 in 20 minutes. It feels good to have a 3rd goalie that isn't Timo Pielmeier.
-- For the first time, in Lord knows how long, the ENTIRE team was either even or positive in terms of +/-.
-- Luca Sbisa and Cam Fowler continue to improve. Sbisa led the team in TOI with 26:01. The next closest was Francois Beauchemin with 22:37 (who didn't have a completely crappy game tonight). Fowler contributed a goal and an assist. He is looking far better than he did at the end of last season.
-- Hey! Corey Perry finally scored. Perry's timing still feels a little off, but tonight was a step closer to normalcy. (Note: he played zero minutes on the penalty kill. Must be an "in the regular season only" thing.")
-- Saku Koivu is awesome.
-- All along I've been convinced that Andrew Gordon was destined for Syracuse. I like that he's starting to prove me wrong. He has a legitimate chance to vie for a spot on the 3rd line wing. Especially since Carlyle hasn't played Kyle Palmieri and Dan Sexton much, and the job looked to be one of theirs for the taking.
-- Memo to Ryan Getzlaf: don't fight in the pre-season. It wasn't really a fight though. It was more of an angry hugging match.
-- What about Bob(by)? Bobby Ryan had been the strongest of RPG in the two previous games he played in, but tonight he was almost invisible. Bobby has ridiculously good hands when the stars align. He was trying to get too cutesy with the puck tonight, leading to turnovers and missed shots.
-- The fourth line is too enforcer-heavy. Tonight the fourth was George Parros - Maxime Macenauer - JF Jacques. The first period they were the only ones hustling and I was encouraged. After that is was all down hill, especially for JFJ (see The Ugly).
-- Devante Smith-Pelly struggles to stay consistent. Same old story for many of the Ducklings - flashes of brilliance in what is otherwise an unmemorable game. My gut tells me he needs to go to Syracuse for a season to build up his confidence again (like Luca Sbisa last season), and not all the way back to Juniors.
-- Andrew Cogliano, I'm waiting for you to show me something - anything - that doesn't make me question the contract. He's insanely fast, but that's all I've seen. He looks lost, kind of the way Bobby did with the failed "Bobby at center experiment" last year. Daniel also noted that he falls down a lot. At first I thought this was diving, but no. As Daniel put it, "he's permanently losing an edge."
-- JF Jacques racked up 17 penalty minutes tonight. We're the Ducks, so that's not usually a big deal. I think it's the manner of how he obtained the minutes in the latter part of the game. Getzlaf had his angry hugs with Mike Duco (who?), and all know that Getz has a tendency to run his mouth. Sometimes even Parros doesn't throw down for the star because it's Getzy being Getzy. JFJ has not learned to differentiate between when it's necessary to fight and when it's not. This was once of those instances. To make matters worse, Jacques hit Duco (seriously, who?) several times while he was on the ground. Pretty sure that's against The Code.