HULKZLAF MAAAAD - Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE
A captain with drive, a team with depth and a defense with options. Say what?!
Honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m putting Getzlaf on the list of Ducks MVP’s this season. The obvious conclusion must be because of the "contract season". I mean, it has to be the reason he’s playing so well, right? And, yes, I love that he’s shooting the puck more and that he’s second on the team with 6 goals, but that’s not even my favorite part! It’s all the things he’s doing away from the net – it’s the other things, the things I EXPECT him to do because I’ve seen him do it before! It’s the hustling, the hitting, the fact that for the first time in a long time I’m not absolutely shocked when he wins a battle along the boards. His face-off percentage is up. He LOOKS healthier and he is skating harder. I don’t need Getzlaf to score 20 goals a season (it would be nice though). What I do need from Getzlaf is to win face-offs, dive for lose pucks and back-check the hell out of the hundreds of players in the NHL that he can completely overpower, then I need him to get the puck to someone who can and will score. The tone of my voice has changed completely when it comes to talking about this guy. Let it be a contract love – but I’m all for it.
Kyle Palmieri and some of those other guys
This guy is currently the Ducks leading goal scorer thanks to a nifty natural hattie on Wednesday night. Do I think that Kyle Palmieri is the future of this team? Not really. Sure, he’s got some talent, we know that – I even think Jen knows that (maybe?), but the important thing is that it’s showing everyone what Ducks fans have quickly figured out. The depth on this team is (please, pardon my hockey talk) fucking awesome.
The Ducks are so used to a team that is completely lopsided in terms of playing time and points that we have forgotten what it is like to look at a list of stats and find comfort in whomever may be on the ice (as long as it’s not Brad Staubitz). I know a lot of credit has to be given to Bruce Boudreau for rolling four lines. He’s not afraid to put players like Palmieri out there on the ice alongside players like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, and more importantly, it’s paying off. Sure, if these guys weren’t scoring we’d all be fuming and furious, but let this be a testament to those players themselves. They’ve got the skills, we’re seeing that, and they’ve finally been given the opportunity they may not have been offered under previous coaching regimes, perhaps.
All in all, these players are being shown faith in their abilities to play NHL caliber hockey. They’re stepping up to that challenge and showing everyone they deserve/want to be in the NHL on a regular basis. There is a big part of me that is shocked to see players like Palmieri and Nick Bonino playing with this NHL team…but a big part of the shock is because I never thought it would happen – and STICK! We’ve seen the youngsters tossed back and forth from the Ducks to "whatever affiliate they have at the time" so often that it is somewhat of a common trend. I never imagined that the team would finally commit to having them play full seasons with the team. Yes, yes, it was bound to happen, but I’m just glad to see that it’s working out, for now.
No defense here!
I’ll go ahead and admit that my pure hatred for Bryan Allen has been greatly reduced as I’m noticing him less and less on the ice (which, I believe, is a good thing)…but it’s not completely eliminated. That being said, the Ducks defense isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.
Was the Cam Fowler injury a blessing in the disguise of an awful upper body injury (you know, the one no one ever bothered to call the concussion that it was)? I mean, would the Ducks have then traded for Ben Lovejoy? Would the team then have a viable option for running a rotation of defensemen in order to give the veterans some rest on back-to-back nights? Or would they have the luxury of sitting players like Luca Sbisa when Boudreau feels they need a little wake up call to their game? The pairings are finally starting to take shape. Players like Francois Beauchemin are heating up and the likes of guys like Sheldon Souray are even starting to look good for the roles they were brought in to play.