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Duck Call: Erik Christensen


This is Anaheim Calling to the Hockey World. It's an old sports cliché that you have to do the little things in order to win. With that in mind, we are starting a new segment here entitled "Duck Calls." Not every effort on the ice goes noticed, and sometimes the guys who are off the score sheet don't get the credit they deserve. For example, a glance at Eric Christensen's numbers since he returned to the lineup reveals that he's averaged just over 15:00 TOI with zero points, 4 shots on goal and a -1. What the stats won't tell you, is that Christensen took an injured Saku Koivu's spot on the second line a mere ten days after the Ducks had placed him on waivers.

Much of the talk surrounding Christensen this year has centered on his inability to regain the scoring touch he had when he scored 18 for the Pens in the 06-07 season. However, Carlyle made Christensen earn his playing time on the second line when the season started. It was Carlyle's commitment to 3 scoring lines that put Lupul on a third line with Marchant, and let Christensen play the other wing with Koivu and Selanne. In an effort to turn things around on offense, Lupul replaced Christensen on the second line. At the same time, Nokelainen came back from injury and solidified the bottom 6. Christensen was literally left with no place to play.

Christensen has a lot of upside to his game. He's fiery, he takes the body and despite the lack of results has a lot of offensive upside. When he's being defensively responsible, he's the ideal candidate to be a scoring option on the third line since he has the speed and size to forecheck, but the hockey sense to not get caught out of position. Over the past few games the most important thing I've noticed is his ability to make the right decision. He pushes the puck when he has to, dishes to the open man, and almost never turns the puck over. He's been able to turn Selanne and Lupul loose, and in the last game against the Wings had a puck go just off the post. I was already impressed with his first stint on the second line, and this one has been just as effective. Even though the statistical results that would probably give him the confidence to return to his original form have not been there. Still, I can't help but appreciate how good he's been and he I think he could still be very effective as a member of the forward corp.

Christensen was pretty much discarded by the Ducks, but he was a consummate professional and kept himself in fine game shape. Arthur and I had an interesting discussion about why it was impressive, but we both agreed that Christensen's performance is more than worthy of recognition. His ability to handle the adversity of his situation and still bring a strong effort is something all the Ducks should model given their current struggles. So, for his commitment to professionalism and his ability to keep the second line functioning despite the loss of Koivu, Eric Christensen is the recipient of Anaheim Calling's first ever Duck Call. Congratulations Eric, here's to hoping your strong play continues.