After dominating the first two periods of play both on the ice and on the scoresheet tonight, the Ducks eventually fell 3-1 to Nashville on CHOC Night. After 40 minutes, Anahem held a 1-0 lead on the strength of a short-handed goal from Devante Smith-Pelly and Ryan Getzlaf. They also had 22 to 16 advantage in shots at that time and generally were the more dangerous team. In the third however, the Ducks came out flat and Nashville quickly tied the game on a blown line change, just 1:19 into the period. The Predators added a rebound goal 10 minutes later and then iced the game with a PP empty netter.
The Ducks still may not be mathematically eliminated (props to you if you're still tracking that), but the season is pretty much over. This was somewhat reflected in the lines, as Bruce Boudreau seemed to be auditioning for next year's second line by grouping Bobby Ryan, Nick Bonino, and Kyle Palmieri together. Defenseman Nate Guenin also drew into Toni Lydman's spot in the lineup and DSP was eventually rewarded with some top line shifts with the twins during the third period.
- DSP continues to impress in all aspects of the game. He recorded the Ducks' only goal of the evening when he slid home a brilliant feed from Ryan Getzlaf, all while short-handed, no less. As mentioned above, DSP's hard work FINALLY seemed to get Bruce Boudreau's attention, as DSP was afforded some time late in the game aside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He was a force to be reckoned with all night, and ended up +1 with three shots and three hits.
- While it's not always showing up on the scoresheet (though it did tonight), Ryan Getzaf continued his recent streak of strong, gritty play. Anaheim's captain seems to have really turned it on over the past month and it seems like he's skating hard and back-checking every time you see him on the ice. It was his pass that made DSP's goal possible, as he threaded the needle to give DSP a puck he could have skated into the net.
- If BB was looking to see who might form a second line next year with Bobby Ryan, he should have been encouraged by the play of Nick Bonino. The pair, along with winger Kyle Palmieri, was Anaheim's most effective line of the night, creating numerous scoring chances and offering the most sustained offensive pressure of any line. Bonino and Bobby, in particular, had instant chemistry tonight and if they can find a complementary third player (Palmieri did not have a good F, more on that later), they could form an effective second line next season.
- I mentioned this in the Gameday, but tonight marked the first ever Ducks broadcast on the newly formed and semi-officially-launched Fox Sports San Diego. The channel, which had a soft launch last night in San Diego County, will be the primary broadcast home for the San Diego Padres but will also prominently feature the Ducks. Ever since I've become a Ducks fan, I've discussed the need for Anaheim to get a broadcast foothold in San Diego and it has finally happened. As someone who's in San Diego fairly often, I'm thrilled about the possibility of no longer missing games when I'm visiting friends and family.
- Corey Perry still doesn't look right and I really don't know why the team has not shut him down. I'm sure Pears is telling the trainers that he's good to go and I know he wants to compete, but it's clear from watching his play that he's not 100 percent. What's worse is that other teams seem to be keying in on this, as I saw Perry take a couple of really hard hits in vulnerable positions throughout the evening. Not only does sitting Perry preserve his health and well being, but it also gives some other forwards the chance at some top line time (paging DSP).
- Kyle Palmieri is the new incarnation of Jekyll and Hyde. On paper, he looks like a great fit for Bobby and Bonino, but there were several occasions tonight where he fumbled a pass or was absent from where his linemates expected him to be. I'm not sure if Kyle is dealing with some confidence issues, but after tantalizing us all against Detroit, he seems to be back to the disappointing, often invisible player that we've seen too often this season. I hope that he gets a few more games on the BB line (I'm going with this for the time being) to see if he can develop the same chemistry that Bobby and Nick seem to have found. As Justin pointed out in the Gameday, it does seem strange that KP is struggling to get on the same page with Bonino, given how much time they played together in Syracuse.
- The officials clearly had no love for Bobby Ryan. The normally disciplined Ryan was whistled for three minor penalties, the last two which seemed marginal at best. Exacerbating matters was the fact that Bobby and other Ducks were frequently mugged in prime scoring zones, without the benefit of a call. It seemed like Bobby couldn't draw a call to save his life tonight, while even skating by a guy resulted in a penalty (see his "interference" penalty in the second period).
- OK Bruce, I'm a fan, but WTF is up with your love affair with Jason Blake? I'm all for juggling lines at this point and getting some looks at guys in different roles, but why the hell would you put the reincarnation of Todd Marchant (without any of the defensive prowess) with the twins? You could literally put ANY OTHER FORWARD up top and I'd be happier about it. Hell, you could throw Sheldon Brookbank on the wing and I think you'd have a better result. Not only do you insist on playing Blake up top, but you then relegate DSP to fourth line duty? Hopefully the turn of heart you showed at the end of the game means DSP will get a prolonged look up top, but for the love of God, do not ever put Blake back up top. Seriously. The guy makes the Kyle Calder experiment from a few years ago look like it was a good idea.
- Outside of Sheldon Brookbank (who's thirteenth point of the season tonight ties his point total from the previous three years COMINBED), the Ducks' defensemen looked pretty bad tonight. There were far too many odd-man rushes for the Predators and their two even strength goals were the direct result of defensive breakdowns. Not only were the Ducks a liability in their own end, but Lubomir Visnovsky and Cam Fowler also struggled mightily in the offensive zone. Both had issues holding the line and Cam's turnover at the end of the game while the Ducks were trying to create a man advantage with an empty net ended up being the last nail in the coffin. For two guys that are supposed to be offensive defensemen, it's disconcerting to see them look so lost in the offensive zone.