Well, that was unexpected. The Ducks elevated their game tonight for no other reason that to say they beat the NHL's top team. They didn't need to win tonight to keep them in the playoff hunt because they're out. It was merely for pride. One thing to take note about the Bruce Boudreau era with the Anaheim Ducks is that every game matters.
When the Ducks missed the playoffs in 2009-2010, Randy Carlyle chose to keep Scott Neidermeyer and Teemu Selanne off of the very final road trip of the season for no other reason than to rest his most prized veterans. I highly doubt this will be the M.O. of Boudreau. He wants the best out of all his players every night. As shown by benching Niklas Hagman and Jason Blake in the San Jose game, he has no problem taking veterans down a notch. Tonight was the perfect example of every player buying into the Boudreau way, regardless of their standing in the league.
This season may be essentially done, but I am sure as hell as excited for next year.
-- If only Boudreau and co. would have read this blog sooner. Sooo many of you have been begging for the combination of Devante Smith-Pelly with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. DSP has thrived with the Twins and it is really fun to watch. His big body has cleared the ice for Perry and Getzlaf, and gives the Ducks another option to put in front of the opposition's net. When the other team is concentrating on destroying Perry as he makes his home in front of the net, DSP is able to slide in and take it home. His goal tonight was a beauty.
-- I feel a bit better about the future now. Our young players, DSP, Nick Bonino, and Tiny Dancer (Kyle Palmiere) have stepped up to be everything we've expected them to be. If necessary, the current second line can be replaced by the current third line of Bonino, Palmieri and Bobby Ryan - as long as they keep producing.
-- Jason Blake actually scored. He lead the team tonight with four shots on goal and had the eventual game winner, although I thought it deflected off of Teemu Selanne's skate.
-- Tonight I thought Cam Fowler actually looked comfortable on the ice. He was skating smooth, as expected, and just looked good. I'm hoping this is a change for the better for Cam. This is a season I'm sure he'd like to forget.
-- If he keeps this up through next season, Jonas Hiller is going to be scary, Vezina-quality good. After all that he's been through, I could not be more excited to see him excelling this second half of the season. A lot of his play has to do with his increased confidence in the guys in front of him, but still, he had a few saves that had me out of my seat tonight.
-- The Ducks came back three (3!!!) times tonight. The Blues were 37-0-1 when leading after three periods. Make that 37-1-1 now.
-- The Ducks are playing better without Toni Lydman who is out with a mysterious injury. Doesn't bode well for the defenseman who will enter this off-season with a year left on his contract.
--Did Andrew Cogliano play tonight? I saw him but I don't remember him.
-- 13 turnovers tonight. On the Shame List for multiple turnovers are: Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa, Corey Perry, and Nicklas Hagman
-- My beloved Saku Koivu had a rough night. He whiffed a couple times on a wide open net and went 3 for 15 on the dot. When Cogliano is a better center than you (6 for 10), you've had a bad night.
-- Perry still looks a bit off to me. Teams are gunning for his ailing shoulder and he's more than aware of this. He seems to be concentrating on trying to avoid any hits on that shoulder than he is about playing is usual game.