Friday night’s opener at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California was supposed to show us fans why we missed the game so much, the pageantry of the game of hockey. There was the speed of the game, there were fights on the ice, there was hard checking, there were some spectacular saves, and there was a biased approach to officiating.
The beautiful game looked ugly when you see the following statistic to last night’s game: Vancouver 9, Anaheim 2. Those are the power play opportunities, PPO, for each team. One of the two PPO for the Ducks lasted for the eternity of 14 seconds. Sufficeth to say the game was played disjointedly as the flow of the game was removed due to all of the penalties. Also note the disparity of the PPO between the two teams. Three power play goals were scored out of nine chances for the Canucks. In the end, the score was Vancouver 5 and the home team Ducks zero.
Before we start on this huge tirade against the referees, Vancouver’s goalie, Schneider, was amazing netminding as he prevented all 30 shots the Ducks threw at him. I don’t mind the Ducks being shut out, but it was the way they were shut out. If one was simply perusing the final score among other scores for the day, then one may dredge up fake animosity, pound the table, and scream, “What difference does it make?!” when you look at the final score.
Let’s look at penalty minutes recorded. Canucks had accumulated 16 penalty minutes to the Ducks 31 minutes. Should we negate offsetting penalties such as the two Beleskey fights and the Perry fight with the two minors penalties given to Vancouver, then our results would reveal two minutes in penalty killing for the visiting team to 17 minutes in penalty killing for our beloved home team, Ducks. That is almost one period of play of penalty killing for Anaheim, as there are 20 minutes in a period. (Added correction: 15 and half minutes of PK because of the Getzlaf infraction which lead to a 5-on-3 power play advantage for Vancouver. I’m doing most of this from memory and trying to confirm with the box score.)
Within the recorded penalty minutes, I look into how some of those penalties came to be called by the referees.
1:51 Beleskey with a five minute major for fighting. Volpatti received the same. (Ana 0 min, Van 0 min)
8:11 Winnik with two minutes holding. I don’t recall myself contesting this penalty. (Ana 2 min, Van 0)
8:42 Getzlaf with two minutes for cross-checking. This call bewildered me because scrums in front of the crease rarely get calls like that. In fact, with that call in mind, I witnessed many Ducks that were cross-checked later in the game, including two where heads crashed into the boards because of it.) This is what I call a biased penalty call. (Ana 2:30 min, Van 0)
17:01 Allen called for interference. Here I completely disagree. Vancouver player A passes puck to teammate B who immediate returns the pass to player A. This was done within a one second span. Allen noticed the puck being passed back to player A and takes player A out with a check as the puck passes through Allen’s skates. Odd thing here is that players do this all the time. Ever see a puck being rimmed around from one side of the corner of the ice to the other and players being rubbed out before reaching it? I don’t see it. Later in the game, Allen repeated this same act and was not called for the action. By the way, we have our obligatory one interference call per game quota. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, one of the Sedin twins fell to the ice to draw a call during this penalty. It was obvious, but the refs didn’t call a diving penalty on him. (Ana 4:30 min, Van 0 min)
3:32 Burrows with two minutes for roughing. I don’t recall it. (Ana 4:30, Van 2)
5:42 PENALTY SHOT for Sbisa on a breakaway. Sbisa totally blew this assignment and went after the hands of Burrows. Sbisa should have muscled Burrows’ body instead of his hands, but it doesn’t change the fact that Sbisa screwed up royally, in my opinion. That penalty shot was legit.
12:36 Bonino with two minutes for holding. Odd call, again. Bones was inside of the Vancouver player and shielding the puck away from him. I was indifferent about the call until I saw later in the game a Duck player was literally chicken winged down to the ice. WTF? Hazy, our supposed homer color analyst, stated the difference between the two actions was Bones used an open hand to hold his player back and Vancouver used his whole elbow and forearm to hold down an opponent. That’s a hooking motion with your arms and I’ve seen that called as a holding penalty before. Only later on did I consider this a biased call. (Ana 6:30, Van 2)
18:44 Perry with two minutes for Roughing. (Ana 8:30, Van 2)
18:44 Perry with two minutes for Charging. Perry basically received a double minor for completely missing his check. Perry didn’t take a long premeditated run, but he did launch off his feet miserably. It was fail in real time. It was epic fail in slow-motion replay. The reason Perry was running amok was because he was cross-checked into the boards, head first, to where he was stunned for a couple of seconds on the ice and there was no penalty call made. I was pissed that the refs swallowed their whistle. I bet that incident make Perry jaw at the blatant no-call and these double minors was to tell Perry who is in charge of this game. Total BS call considering another Vancouver player came down to cross-check Perry afterwards. I wouldn’t mind one minor call on Perry provided a Vancouver player would receive a roughing call on Perry as that play on the ice ensued. (Ana 10:30, Van 2)
3:33 Beleskey with five minute major for fighting. Bieksa received the same. A wash on penalty minute advantage. (Ana 10:30, Van 2)
3:33 Beleskey with two minutes for cross-checking on top of the fighting. Now this call was ridiculous. Bieksa took a running charge into Beleskey, to which the refs conveniently had a blind eye, and traded cross-checking thumps into one another. This is a farce of a call! If you call charging on Perry, then it is safe to assume Bieksa actually did charge from the bench straight to Beleskey. Man, this just made me wish we had Parros back! Complete bias. (Ana 12:30, Van 2)
12:22 Perry with a five minute fighting major. Yeah, Perry did fight with Ballard and vice versa except Ballard was given a two minute minor instead of a fighting major with Perry even though gloves were thrown onto the ice by both players. Holy ish! This is stupid beyond compare! This is just as bad as the last minute of the Thursday Kings v Oil game were a goal was called off for goalie interference, but the goalie interference penalty was not made nor enacted; it cost the game for the Kings. (Ana 15:30, Van 2)
12:22 Ballard with a two minute minor for roughing. He dropped his gloves, but gets a roughing call? I adjusted the minutes in Perry’s fighting major. (Ana 15:30, Van 2)
14:18 Hamhuis with two minutes for tripping. This brings down the Ana minutes as it occurred during the Perry five minute major. (Ana 13:30, Van 2)
16:51 Beauchemin with two minutes for slashing. Vancouver could have sold it as one glove flew, but Beauch was hacking away. (Ana 15:30 min, Van 2 min)
End of game.
The disparity in calls is shown. The bias revealed in some of the calls. By having that much time penalty killing, the rest of the game for the Ducks becomes muted. I do not mind being shut out, but how we were shut out was aided by biased refereeing. Penalties happen during a game. In two games played, the Ducks were the least penalized team in the NHL with seven penalties. This third game at home had produced nine penalties. It runs contrary to our disciplined game. So you have to take that into account with the many made calls for the home opener.
We lost 5 – 0. Three power play goals, a turnover in the defensive zone, and Hiller got beat. Here’s how I recall some of them.
*Not much to address about Hiller getting beat, but Hiller did bail us out a lot during this game along with stopping a penalty shot during the game.
*DSP had a mental lapse to let the puck go loose to Volpatti. Allen and Fowler had their assignments tied up. Hiller still had a chance to stop that puck if he saw the turnover had occurred sooner. I think Fowler and his Vancouver counterpart blocked Hiller’s view as they skated just above the crease. DSP needs to go back down the Norfolk. I don’t see that heavy body laying people out and hustling like when he originally made the team out of camp. Instead, I see Bobby and Beleskey dishing out hard checks. DSP did have a total of 4 hits, but the only one I remember was him at center ice and falling down after laying a hit. I supposed that counted.
*The first power play goal. It was a five on three. Yet here Hiller was at fault. He watched the puck slide across his crease to a waiting Daniel Sedin. USE THE DAMNED STICK to impede a traversing puck in front of you! By the way, this happened twice to Hiller. And yes, he was scored upon said repeated action twice.
*Another power play goal developed because Sbisa took a wrong angle and lacked the speed to make up for the mistake. It ended up as a goal.
Our power play has been abysmal. The only silver lining I see is that we went from 43% efficiency to 67% on the night. That brings us up to 56.3% average, ranking dead last in the league. We are slowly improving.
The bad on the night: DSP, Sbisa, and Hiller
The silent: Teemu , Holland, and Souray
The good: Third line, Bobby without the puck, Fowler, and Allen
With so many minutes allocated to the PK, penalty kill, it was difficult to establish a flow to the game as the ice time dwindles down for even strength play. Some players had to play more on the PK. Getzlaf and Perry had played about 20 minutes last night. Their even strength line mate, Palms, only logged 13 and half minutes. Bobby Ryan also logged only 13 and half minutes played. Despite all of the penalty minutes, the Ducks were flying everywhere. The Cone heads had six shots on goal (SOG) with Fowler joining them as he was able to pinch down a few times and get 4 SOG’s. The Cone heads were still amazing and got off some shots, but Vancouver’s goalie stifled all attempts. The first line had quite a few chances as did the second line, but the second line seemed to do it individually rather than collectively. Outside of Beleskey, the fourth line languished. It was Holland’s first game and he looked tentative. That was the same for Rakell’s first game.
Although the score may have looked like a disaster… okay it was a disaster, but it isn’t as terrible as it may seem. Vancouver’s goalie, Schneider, was en fuego! Not the mild hot sauce or the hot hot sauce, but the del scorch hot sauce type of en fuego! And I believe his performance will be glossed over with the referees’ constant biased interjection. A little tinkering is all the Ducks need such as Sbisa being more tactful in his approach, Hiller using his stick, sit DSP and play both Holland and Rakell on the same line except Rakell be the center, and give more patience to the second line (to which I still think Bones needs to be switched out). The first line and the Cone heads are still clicking. Fowler is amazing as he knows when to pinch; Allen has great chemistry with Fowler. Hiller is like a Katy Perry song, he’s hot and he’s cold all in one game setting.
One last point to make, the cynic in me says that the best thing to happen to this team during this game was to get a lot of PK practice. We, or rather, our staff can learn a lot about our tendencies to reproduce or improve upon. Good thing we have only hours to forget about this game!
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