The Refs Make Everything Special
The Ducks have been victim to some brutally officiated games and specific instances in the past, but man, was that home opener disgusting or what? Now, this isn’t the first I’ve heard of bad officiating in the league this season, which begs the question, are the refs out of "hockey shape"? Are they rebelling against being locked out as well?
Let’s just pretend all of the above is completely irrelevant. Cool, fine, whatever. But the problem with excessive and often ridiculous penalties (for either team) is that the fans in Anaheim are therefore forced to witness the awful, hideous, vomit-inducing, eye-gouging, hair pulling and heart attack enticing first hand display of their special teams core. Which brings us to our next topic of frustration.
WHAT THE HELL IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE SPECIAL TEAMS?!
Lets start with the fact that I can’t begin to tell you which is worse (the PK is at 66.7% and the PP is at 20.0%...it’s almost as if those numbers are interchangeable)! Second problem is that I can’t tell you which player is on which unit.
"Nick Bonino is on the first unit?"
"Is Cam Fowler the only d-man out there right now?"
"Wait, which team is on the power play right now?"
At even strength the Ducks are managing to get by. So of course, for the millionth time, we beg of them to stay out of the box. [Ed. Note: We're looking at you, Getzlaf! -CK]
In the Ducks’ first five games we’ve gotten to see quite a few youngsters hit the lineup. Some have been good (Rickard Rakell, Emerson Etem), some have been bad (Peter Holland), and some have been questionable, (Devante Smith-Pelly, Kyle Palmeiri). The next step is deciding what is going to happen with a few of these guys.
Rakell will be playing in his fifth game this evening and then the decision to play him in this first year of his entry level deal will need to be decided. Usually this happens after ten games, but because of the shortened season, well, you know. So, anyway, really the question is who is worth keeping in the NHL and who should we send back to the AHL/junior squad?
If there was ever an argument for Palmeiri, Etem and Rakell, it definitely came on Tuesday night in San Jose. The three played as a fourth line unit and they worked very well together. Part of it may be simply be their lack of NHL time. They’re all fresh out of junior or AHL team placement and that means they aren’t suffering from the experience of playing with Johnny NHLer. Maybe their underdeveloped NHL brains will benefit from some simpler hockey standards.
Either way, one more game like that, and those three might as well find a place to live together in Anaheim for the next few months. So, who does this hurt or hinder for the future? Smith-Pelly? Holland? And what about all this talk of a recovery for defenseman Sami Vatanan? Bryan Allen looks lost and confused about 103% of the time, maybe he can be sent somewhere. Hello, Toronto? Are you still there?
Yes, totally irrelevant to us now, but I overheard someone mention this trade the other day and it got me thinking. Anaheim really did fare well with this one, didn’t they? I mean, if we’re going to talk about something that Bob Murray has come out on the positive side of, I guess this is it.
In the summer of 2009 the Ducks acquired via trade forward Joffrey Lupul and defenseman Luca Sbisa. In return they sent Chris Pronger to the Flyers (yes, there were some other lesser parts included in that trade). Now, the Lupul experiment didn’t necessarily work out, but it did work when we sent him to Toronto in order to get Francois Beauchemin back (who we probably should have never lost in the first place). While it isn’t happening overnight, Sbisa is turning out to be a strong, physical defenseman with the option to learn from a defensive God in Scott Niedermayer. So, all in all, the Ducks ended up with two solid defensemen who, knock on wood, have remained quite healthy and are key elements to the Ducks defense.
On the flip side, while we already mentioned the Lupul injury last week in our therapy session, I wonder if Pronger would have remained healthy playing in Anaheim. He was one of those guys you loved to hate, and I sorely missed him when he was traded away. On the sentimental side, I really hope that he’s recovering – but I don’t think we’ll ever see him in a tiny pair of skates again. All of that being said, face value and for what it’s worth, I do think Anaheim "won" that trade.