Takeaways: Checking Out the Checking Line

Jeff Gross

Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano, and Daniel Winnik get the job done, while the opponents they match up against don't.

1. Sunday's loss to San Jose wasn't fun to watch, but it's far from discouraging given the play of this Ducks team recently. Ten wins in a row and being tops in the NHL before the Sharks game says a lot more than one stinging loss, and that loss, it ought to be noted, wasn't exactly a catastrophe. The Ducks outshot the Sharks in all three periods, bringing their string of consecutive games outshooting the opposition to eight.

2. The "checking line" of Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano, and Daniel Winnik has been the Ducks' best forward trio as of late, both defensively and offensively. They created five goals last week, four of them at even strength and one shorthanded, and spent tons of time deep in the opponents' zone, even during the eventual loss to San Jose. Inevitably, they conjure memories of the most successful checking line in franchise history, that of Samuel Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer, and Travis Moen. Conjuring memories, however, is not the same as replicating results. Pahlsson's line that helped the Ducks capture the Stanley Cup in 2007 was bigger and stronger than this year's checking line, and Pahlsson in particular was nearly impossible to knock off the puck when he had it where he wanted it, a talent that almost won him a Conn Smythe Trophy. If Koivu's line has any edge on Pahlsson's, it is speed. Cogliano and Winnik are two of the fastest players on the current roster, and Koivu's hockey IQ allows him to keep up just fine. Whether or not they will be remembered like 2007's checking line may have a lot to do with how the rest of this season turns out.

3. Saturday's victory against the Phoenix Coyotes was just about the most dominant performance in an overtime game as I've ever seen. One of the 'Yotes' goals was a gift from the Honda Center gremlins, and the other came at the end of a 6-on-5 shift at the hands of a team desperate for points. Shots on goal were 41-25 in favor of Anaheim, and the score could have easily looked a lot more lopsided than it did.

4. Francois Beauchemin didn't play the best game of his career against the Sharks on Sunday, and it wasn't the only disappointing outing this season for the 33 year-old blue liner. He underwent ACL surgery in May and has yet to return to last season's level of play. As a die-hard Beauch fan ever since the 2006 playoffs, this isn't easy for me to admit, but I think we might need to get used to 2013-14 Beauchemin instead of the 2012-13 version. Here's to hoping I'm wrong.

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