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Open Gameday Thread Avalanche @ Ducks

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Colorado Avalanche
@ Anaheim Ducks

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010, 5:00 PM PDT



Radio: AM830

Your Enemy: Mile High Hockey

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First, a little college hockey, since it has consumed me this weekend. The Pairwise wheel has spun, and the bracket is set. Mark your calendars according to the TV Schedule for next week, or if you don't have ESPNU and aren't willing to go to, mark your calendars for the Frozen Four on April 8 on ESPN2.

Speaking of NCAA, Curtis McElhinney got his first win as a Duck on Friday. Cage-face spectators will remember that McElhinney backstopped a pretty good Colorado College team earlier this decade. Prospect-obsessed Ducks fans will remember him as the goaltender frequently standing behind Brian Salcido. There are still three back-to-backs left on the Ducks schedule, so if this team is committed to winning out (which, not surprisingly, still gives them some statistical chance of missing the playoffs) they'll need Curtis to run a leg of the relay.

According to The OC Register, Joffrey Lupul participated in a team practice, which Carlyle counts as his first day back (despite Lupul getting back to the ice for limited practice recently). Carlyle also noted that he knows he's taxing his remaining defensemen in the absence of Wisniewski, but he's confident that they should be able to handle it as they've all spent plenty of time in the league. Point taken, but has anyone noticed how little we see of Aaron Ward?

More after the jump...

Aaron Ward Time On Ice Stats

7 103:38 14:48 137 45 19.6

91:03 13:00 11:41 1:40 0:54 0:07

As you can see, Ward, Anaheim's greyest beard on the blueline, is averaging 14:48 per game in his 7 games with the Ducks. That's less than half of what Scott Niedermayer played on Friday. Ward sees only 19.6 shifts per game (around six fewer than Visnovsky), but he also sees 1:40 of shorthanded ice time per game, painting the picture of a 2.5M penalty killing specialist. But is he?

The PK has been killing at about 75% in the seven games since Ward joined the team, which is a hair below the their 79.3% season average. They've blanked three power play units in those games, but they've also let in multiple power play goals against the Blue Jackets and Islanders (though McElhinney could have been a factor as Jonas Hiller let in only one of the PP goals in each of those games). Also, looking more closely at the stat sheet, it was Ward's penalty against Nashville, his second of the game, that Getzlaf would turn into a 5 on 3, gifting the Predators the only tally of that contest.

Aaron Ward is an older player, sure, but he should be playing more, and certainly not less than half of what a player one year his junior is logging. Right now, he's a depth defenseman about as much as Festerling is, and we may want to look into getting more out of him instead of putting 30 minutes on Niedermayer on a regular basis.