Final Score: Ducks 1, Avalanche 4
First Period Recap: Hey! Ryan Getzlaf is back in the lineup. Woot! Aaaand that's about the extent of the good things to happen to the Ducks Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche.
After publicly shaming his team for essentially quitting on their season, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere lit a fuse under the young Avs and they took full advantage of the Anaheim's very off night. It took the Ducks only 1:04 into the game to establish how the rest of the night was going to go. Matt Duchene (who would have a HUGE night) got the puck to a wide open John Mitchell on the far side post. Mitchell easily roofs it up over Jonas Hiller.
Five minutes later, Corey Perry slashes the stick of one of the Avs and it easily drops out of his hands. Perry is sent to the box and the Avs go on the power play. It was a fairly good kill for Anaheim. The most impressive part was Emerson Etem killing 10-15 seconds off the clock by trapping an Avs player behind his own net. Each time the Av went to one side of the net trying to skate away, the quick and agile Etem was right there shadowing him.
Somewhere around the middle of the period, Cam Fowler takes a hit and leaves the ice. It looked like maybe a shoulder injury? The broadcast didn't notice he was missing until the middle of the second period. PR said Cam has an upper body ailment and was doubtful to return to the game. He played four shifts total. Hope he's ok. He was starting to get his groove back.
The fourth line of Etem, Matt Beleskey and David Steckel were the best of the struggling Ducks. Etem pokes the puck away from one of the Avs and Beleskey grabs the puck. He tries to make this fancy spin-o-rama-try-to-stuff-the-puck-in-the-net move. Giguere easily covers up.
Throughout the game, the Avalanche were punishing the Ducks with a TON of body contact. Normally this inspires the Ducks to hit back and play their best, not tonight. The Ducks were taking hit after hit and producing turnover after turnover. There was a scary moment where Perry takes a hit in the middle of the ice and falls to the ground. One of the Avs steps on his hand/wrist area with his skate and Perry immediately skates back to the bench, checking his hand and wrist. Luckily, he escaped unscathed.
Paul Stasny returned to the Colorado lineup tonight after being out with an injury. Stasny produced another slightly scary moment when he blows past Luca Sbisa and fires on net. The puck hits Hiller right on the forehead. I can't say for sure if this had any impact on the way he played the rest of the game.
In the final minutes of the period, Avs' baby-faced captain Gabriel Landeskog was called for holding Etem. Etem helped to sell this call by wrapping his arm over Landeskog's. With Cam gone, Luca Sbisa replaced him on the first power play unit. He was up and down. Anaheim nearly scored when Francois Beauchemin shoots towards the net where Perry is obnubilating Giguere's line of site. Perry tries to deflect the puck in the net but Jiggy grabs it easily.
Second Period Recap: Anaheim had 0:17 seconds of power play time to start the period and do nothing in the short period of time.
The Avalanche continue to pour on the pressure and attacking the puck. The Ducks looked slow and unable to control the puck at all. The game looked a lot like the Edmonton game with a ton of back and forth but not because both teams were playing incredibly hard.
Here is where things are to really fall apart. Kyle Palmieri was falling to the ice and managed to make it look like he was held by Eric Johnson. Johnson to the box and the Ducks go on the power play. The best chance the Ducks had was when Getzlaf maneuvers at 3/4th's speed around the Avs defense, passes to an open Bobby Ryan and he fires it wide. As the PP ticked down, Landeskog gets the puck and skates it out of the Avs zone and all the way into the Ducks zone without a challenge. Getz is the last 'defender' back and Ladeskog power skates around him and flips the puck into the net. Avs go up by two on a shorty.
David Van Der Gulik (awesome last name) finishes his check on Sbisa (muy terrible). Sbisa decides to be an idiot and slams Van Der Gulik down to the ice without him touching the puck. Time for Colorado to go back on the power play.
It was a shooting gallery the entire penalty kill and because of that the other shoe had to drop some time. With 0:01 second remaining in the power play, the unbelievably talented Matt Duchene one times it into the back of the net. It's now 3-0, Avs.
One positive to come of the period was someone getting a goal who desperately needed to score one. Beauchemin sends a stretch pass from the defensive zone to Palmieri at the top of the neutral zone. Tiny Dancer jets with the puck and sends a laser of a pass to Teemu Selanne on the far post. Selanne tips it past his buddy Giguere. Ducks finally make it on the board, 3-1.
The goal seemed to energize Anaheim a bit. They became more physical during play but they were doing a lot of after the whistle shenanigans as well. Miraculously they weren't whistled for anything. The Ducks went back on the power play afte Palmieri draws another call. Stop me if you've heard this one before, the Ducks do nothing at all with the man advantage.
With 2:30 to go in the second, Anaheim begins to go back to the crappy play of the first period. Sbisa turns the puck over to Jamie McGinn and can't recover. McGinn skates on in and pops the water bottle. Colorado up 4-1 and thank goodness that's all the damage they can do for the period.
Third Period Recap: Bruce turned a shade of purple on the bench after Colorado's third and fourth goals. I can't imagine how many f-bombs he dropped during the second intermission. Boudreau made the decision to send Viktor Fasth to the Anaheim net to finish out the game.
It was a terrible period. Again, a lot of up and down skating because of turnovers. The Ducks were getting their asses handed to them on the boards. And just as the Ducks got Getzlaf back, he appeared to have taken a stinger to the abdomen when he skated directly into the butt end of Jan Hejda's stick. Getz was in a good deal of pain when he bent over for the face-off afterward and when he got back to the bench. He was OK though.
Both teams spent a good deal of time in each other's zones but really couldn't do anything. Matt Duchene (who else?!) has the best chance to score another goal after Beauchemin turns the puck over to him. Duchene (what's his nickname? Douche?) sends a quick wrister to the net but Fasth makes the save.
Fasth stopped all 12 shots he faced and his counterpart Giguere stopped all seven of the Ducks in the third period. The game ended in a loud boo from the 13 non-Avs fans still in the Honda Center. Avalanche win it 4-1.
The Good: Ryan Getzlaf is back. What I gathered from the telecast, was Bruce wanted to put him back in the lineup for an 'easy' game as a way to ease him back into service. He looked a tad rusty but fine for the most part.
The Bad: The games against the Avs and Oilers were similar in that the Ducks played down to their opponent and engaged in end-to-end skating battles. With the older guys on the team and some less than swift skaters, that kind of game (or games) in the playoffs will pose a serious issue. They're faster than they were last year but sustaining that same speed every single shift, up and down the ice is difficult for anyone.
The Ugly: The Ducks could have - and should have - clinched their playoff spot tonight. You'd think they'd wake up for a game that could end with a playoff spot.
3rd Icehole: NHL scheduler. This compact schedule is gnarly - not just for the Ducks but all NHL teams. The upcoming two day break is the first multi-day break the Ducks will have had since February 24th. The NBA went through the same issues with their condensed schedule the previous season. Teams were tired and beat up by the time the playoffs rolled around.
2nd Icehole: Luca Sbisa. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, PLEASE SIT HIM DOWN FOR A GAME. That is highly unlikely now that Cammy is injured.
1st Icehole: The Anaheim Ducks. There was close to nothing in the tank tonight. Call it as you see it. Tired? Playing down to their opponent? Regression? (Don't even say that last one.) It ain't getting any easier. They're going to LA Saturday night to close out the Real Housewives battle.
Perhaps a Bruce Boudreau-ism sums up tonight the best:
Classic Boudreau: "When we stink, we stink. When we're good, we're good. We're good as a team and we stink as a team. We stunk."— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) April 11, 2013
Next Game: Saturday, April 13, 8:00pm PT @ Los Angeles