These are dark times.
As you know, the NHL has cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season, maybe just postponed if we're lucky. Today was supposed to be the Ducks' season opener, and home opener for that matter, against the Sharks. While the lockout is on, we here at Anaheim Calling are trying to write about hockey as much as possible rather than percentage of Hockey Related Revenue and term limits on contracts, hence our prospect reports and "Hate Week" theme.
Throughout the summer - and now the lockout - I've been combing through the archives of the NHL Vault on Game Center Live, watching classic games from Ducks history and blogging them. The idea is an Anaheim centric spin off of Ellen Etchingham's Great Historical Games Project on The Score's Backhand Shelf blog done in the style of John Buccigross' "live blogs" from a few years back (unfortunately I couldn't find a link to one of those, but you'll get the idea).
So, lockout be damned, we're going to report on a Ducks/Sharks game anyway, even if we have to dip into the NHL Vault for one from years gone by. This way we can even make sure we get a win on the closest thing to an opening night we may get for a while, which is pretty rare in Ducks History as they carry a record of 4-14 in season openers.
In an effort to cheer up locked out Ducks fans, our latest installment of Duck Tales from the Vault features the happiest goaltender in the Universe: Ilya Bryzgalov and his first career shutout from January 26, 2006.
Feel free to vent in the comments about how much it sucks not to have a live game to watch/write/read about tonight, but try to remember, "Is hockey, you know, is only game. Why you heff to be mad?"
[Note: Prepare yourself for more Bryz jokes.]
START This is the first Vault post that I've done on a game with a burned in game clock at the top of the screen. This is going to be luxurious. Not so luxurious: It's the San Jose feed.
We're only about four months removed from the 2004-'05 lockout and, as we're reminded regularly by Jeff Marek of the wonderful Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast, it's a weird season. Carolina will end up beating Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Final, Jonathan Cheechoo will finish with 56 goals (?!) and it's a transition year for the (still Mighty) Ducks.
In the first year of Samueli ownership, and the last year with the old Disney logo, it's a modern game but visually strange. Some dude on the Sharks (Kyle McLaren) is wearing a yellow visor; The jersey numbers are all over the place, Getzlaf wears 51, Perry 61, Kunitz 38, Penner 76; and several Ducks including Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne (wearing number 13) have some serious flow spilling out the back of their buckets. It's like Mike Newell is directing this season for the Ducks. (That's the last Harry Potter reference, I promise)
1:05 We find out that Bryz is in net because in the previous night the Ducks blew a 3-0 lead to Edmonton, eventually losing 6-3 and J.S. Giguere went nuts on Ryan Smyth for interfering with him on what ended up being Chris Pronger's game winning goal.
Ryan Smyth drives J.S. Giguère nuts (via snoopac3)
1:26 Patrick Marleau tries to walk the puck right into the net and Bryz covers up. Drew Remenda (Sharks Color Commentator) lets us know that in addition to Jiggy's blow up, Bryz has also earned a start by going 6-3-1 in his last 10 games with a save percentage of .951. On the next shift Keith Carney puts the Mighty Ducks on the penalty kill with a holding the stick penalty.
3:46 Easy kill for Anaheim, only allowing one shot from the point by Christian Ehrhoff.
8:31 The Ducks have the best chance during the Salei penalty as Jonathan Hedstrom is stopped on a shorthanded breakaway by Evgeni Nabokov.
9:24 A dominant shift by the Ducks ends with a penalty to McLaren for chopping the stick out of Andy McDonald's hand. I don't really have a problem with a penalty for slashing a stick and breaking it, but Andy just dropped his stick, that can't be a penalty. That's the kind of ticky-tacky penalty that happened that first year out of the lockout, though as the refs went for extreme enforcement, like the death penalty for killing a Tiger under "China Law."
While extolling the virtues of Teemu Selanne, Remenda mentions that lots of people thought he was done after his injury plagued season with Colorado in '04, to which play by play announcer Randy Hahn replies:
"No you just misunderstood; they said he was Finnish-ed." This is the kind of thing that makes people either love Sharks broadcasts or absolutely despise them. I guess they're considered rabid homers also, but I don't really see it.
11:25 Man Crush Alert: Scott Niedermayer is F***ing amazing. The Ducks have a set play off a neutral zone faceoff, won directly back to Scotty who drills a pass to Teemu in stride flying toward the Sharks net. As if that wasn't beautiful enough, Cheechoo ends up on a partial breakaway (from a Beauchamin turnover) but Scotty caches up to him with three effortless strides, lifts his stick and rejoins the rush back the other way, even though he's playing with a knee injury that will keep him out of the Olympics the following month. However, the magic of Niedermayer doesn't change the fact that it was a solid kill for the Sharks.
14:40 Suddenly, the Sharks fans decide to start booing Teemu when he touches the puck. No idea why, or why they haven't been doing it up until now. Hahn and Remenda decide that they're saying "Tee-muuuuuuu!" But still, why start now? Maybe they didn't realize he was wearing number 13 in the season of weird.
14:51 Salei goes to the dressing room for treatment after blocking a Joe Thornton shot (apparently pigs flew and Hell froze over) with his face and being clipped by the high stick of Josh Langfeld. No penalty on the play. Bryz thinks Rusty is weirder than he is because of this, most disagree. Rusty won't return to the game.
15:23 The line of Penner, Todd Marchant and Joffrey Lupul has a glorious chance on the rush. Penner (in his seventh career NHL game), is robbed by the stacked pads of Nabokov and fails to bank the rebound off the back of Nabokov, who was floundering around in the crease.
16:51 After two dominant offensive zone shifts by the Ducks Todd Fedoruk, playing with rookies Getzlaf and Perry, mixes it up with Douglas Murray (also a rookie) and we find out that "The Fridge" is a green belt in karate. The next season, Fedoruk will become one of the more tragic characters in Ducks History. After his face gets smashed in by Derek Boogaard he is traded off the '07 Ducks and bounces around the league for three seasons before being forced to retire due to his addiction to several different drugs and alcohol.
END First Period 0-0 A great period by the Ducks is almost ruined by a Grade A scoring chance for Mark Smith (who?) with three seconds left, but Bryz puts down his Thermos and makes a HUMANGOUS BIG save. The Ducks controlled the pace and outshot San Jose 12-7 in the first period. Not only that, there was a gap of about ten minutes between the Sharks' fifth and sixth shots. Teemu is the best Duck on the ice, Beauch is probably the worst - not bad, just a little sloppy, but no worries because Scotty is there to clean up after him.
1:35 Scramble in front of the Ducks' net, Bryz makes probably his most difficult saves of the night, so far, as he falls on his butt and loses his stick while trying to swat the puck out of mid-air.
4:16 Andy McDonald can't handle a pass from Kunitz with a wide open net. The top line of Selanne, McDonald and Kunitz is causing all kinds of problems for the Sharks with speed, phenomenal passing and tough play around the net.
4:57 Penner takes a penalty for cross checking. 32 seconds into the Sharks power play Cheechoo catches Beauch with a high stick and gets two minutes even though Beauch is clearly bleeding out of the nose. Four on four.
6:01 Scott Hannan interferes with Teemu, no make-up call for the missed double minor on the high stick. Teemu takes exception after the play and as tempers flare behind Nabokov. Bryz says "Seems like there's going to be lots of murders. Make sure we have enough ambulance, huh?" Matching roughing minors to Teemu and Hannan; still four on four.
8:44 Awesome outlet pass from Beauch to a streaking Getzlaf through center, followed by classic Getzlaf/Perry cycling and some forced turnovers by San Jose at the blue line. The Ducks are just clicking on all cylinders, outshooting San Jose 18 to 8.
9:09 Joe Thornton gets two for hooking Vitaly Vishnevski, who hasn't been very noticeable but took a five minute major for boarding the previous night that started the Edmonton comeback. Just wanted to mention Vish, because he was one of my favorites; Dude, would crush anything in an opposing sweater.
10:18 Rocket of a shot by Beauch, gets a Detroit-esque bounce off the end boards but Nabokov covers before Getzlaf can get to it.
11:51 San Jose kills the penalty, goes on the rush as Thornton comes out of the box, and the teams trade chances. Right out of the commercial break Thornton goes end to end, smoothly ducking a check from Sammy Pahlsson and shooting it off Bryz's blocker. This game is starting to open up and look like NHL 2.0 hockey on both sides, but the Ducks still have the better of the chances and more of them.
17:09 Mighty Ducks GOAL: The top line creates a four on two rush, Teemu finds Keith Carney trailing the play, he shoots, Andy McDonald makes a nifty little deflection through Nabokov's legs; 1-0 Ducks.
17:57 Thornton turns it over to Pahlsson right in the slot and he's stopped point blank, by Nabokov, who's been the best Shark in the game by a mile.
19:05 With a delayed penalty coming to the Sharks, Lupul and Carney get a clear cut two on one, played well by the defender. Lupul shoots, no problem for Nabokov. The penalty is for Cheecho tripping Penner or else it would have been a three on one for the Ducks.
END Second Period 1-0 Mighty Ducks More dominance from the Ducks in just about every aspect of the game. San Jose ended up with only three shots in the period, even though it seemed a little more back and forth at times. The Ducks are out to prove that the previous night was a fluke and they can manhandle a divisional opponent who their tied with in the standings.
1:16 San Jose kills the remainder of the Cheechoo penalty to open up the period, without giving the Ducks any real chances, but the Ducks go right back on the power play only eight seconds later as McLaren hooks Penner.
2:30 Mighty Ducks GOAL: Douglas Murray fails to clear the zone and as the Sharks move up the ice they get caught in a mini two on one with Teemu and Lupul from the top of the circles. Teemu slides the backhand sauce pass across the crease for an easy one timer by Lupul. 2-0 Ducks.
Teemu's assist on that goal brings him to within four points of 1,000 in his career. I still can't believe they don't have his 1,000th point game in the Vault. That was probably the best game I'd ever been to at the time.
2:55 Tripping call on Hedstrom, Ducks on the kill, and 13 seconds later Vishnevski is called for interfering with Ekman, even though Scott Niedermayer was more at fault, giving the Sharks an extended two man advantage.
3:26 Bryz makes two point blank saves that were simply beautiful, like an all-white husky with blue eyes. Jokes aside, he' just earned this shutout with those two saves. He hasn't had any work all night and all of a sudden springs into action with a quick lateral move and does the splits to stop the rebound. Clutch. Still over a minute on the five on three.
4:58 Ducks clear the zone to kill the first penalty to Hedstrom and the fans lose it. Boos rain down because they know that was their only chance to get back in this game, considering the way the Ducks have been playing.
6:11 Of course, Randy Carlyle is coaching this team with a two goal lead in the third period so... No more forechecking allowed boys! We're just going to hold on for dear life.
10:12 Milan Michalek skates right around Carney for a breakaway, but Bryz swats it down with his glove hand, and looks surprised that he didn't catch it. Luckily Todd Marchant picks up the rebound, but turns it over and takes an interference penalty.
8:04 Michalek splits the D for another breakaway and Bryz kicks it aside. The Sharks are starting to look like the Ducks did in the first two periods. They just always have the puck.
12:26 Vishevski demolishes Smith in the corner with a perfectly timed shoulder to shoulder check right as Smith reaches for the puck. Awesome! That's the guy I remember. At first I thought he might be a little gun shy from his five minute major the night before, but now I think he was quiet mostly because the Ducks had the puck for the first 40 minutes straight so he couldn't blow anyone up.
For the first time since the insurance marker, the Ducks get to a puck that's below the top of the circle in the San Jose zone, and they control a full 35 second shift down low. If it wasn't for an uncalled trip they would have done it on the next shift too. THAT'S how you defend a third period lead.
17:19 Terrible defensive shift for the Sharks, they give Lupul and Penner all day to just leisurely pass the puck around the zone, burning all kinds of time, Remenda blames it on the end of a long shift.
18:00 Nabokov off for the extra attacker.
18:47 Ducks ice the puck, Ron Wilson calls time out for the Sharks.
19:00 Pahlsson's backhander on the empty net is blocked by Tom Preissing.
19:30 Hedstrom zips one wide and high of the empty net
FINAL 2-0 Mighty Ducks: San Jose closed the shot gap in the third period but Bryz came up big in the key moments at the end of the game.
There you have it, our desperate attempt to cover hockey during the lockout continues. I don't know about you guys, but for the rest of the night I'm going to be drowning my sorrows with "Alcohol, cognac and lots of mixing of the natural stuff," and watching some College Hockey on NBCSN (Notre Dame/Maine, GO BLACK BEARS!).
Happy Lockout, everybody.