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Ducks Cruise Past Avs 4-0

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The Ducks' first home game of the preseason was, more or less, a walk in the park from the first minute onward.

It was pretty much as easy as that picture suggests.
It was pretty much as easy as that picture suggests.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks started their home game against Colorado tonight, as you would expect, with an incredibly unsustainable shooting percentage of 100% on two shots.  I take some issue with the shot count however, since Dany Heatley scored on what was technically considered the first shot of the game, but it was his own rebound that he gathered to score it.  Ryan Getzlaf passed him the puck behind the net, he came to the side and tried to slip it short side on Reto Berra, but the scorekeeper must have thought it hit the post because it came right back to him in front of the net to open the scoring just 48 seconds into the game.

For the next five minutes or so, the Ducks did a pretty good job of holding the zone, but not turning it into any shots on target, until a puck squeezed loose from the corner right into the slot where Rickard Rakell one timed it to the back of the net.  Honestly, I was looking away when the goal was scored and couldn't tell from the replay whether it was a good pass to Rakell WIDE open in the slot or the worst turnover in the history of hockey, but the official scorer has it down as unassisted so we'll go with the latter and whoever was responsible should be on a plane back to wherever he came from already.

Just before the Rakell goal, Josh Manson dropped the gloves with Daniel Maggio, but the fight was over almost before it started.  Manson threw one punch that missed and lost his balance.  Apparently he was hurt on the play, because he didn't return to the game afterward.

Throughout the game Nic Kerdiles was more than eager to throw his body around on the forecheck especially, with mixed results.  One such forecheck in the first period created a flurry of maybe three shots, one of which from the point  rang the bottom of the post and rested under Berra in the crease.  After seeing him a few times now, the one thing you can always count on from Kerdiles is 100% effort.

The Ducks had to kill two penalties in the first period with a first PK unit of Nate Thompson, John Kurtz, Cam Fowler and Ben Lovejoy, followed by Rakell, Emerson Etem, Francois Beauchemin and Hampus Lindholm.  The second unit was more successful at keeping the puck out of the zone.  Rakell and Etem actually had a couple of shorthanded rushes in the first period and later in the game as well.  Without any specific notes on his play (other than he was on the PK) I blame the issues with the first  unit on John Kurtz.

The number one thing I noted about Thompson was his ability to carry the puck while holding off a chasing defender.  It was most obvious in the lead up to the third goal for the Ducks, which was entirely created by the former Tampa Bay center.  Thompson carried the puck into the zone himself with a defender hot on his tail, curled hard around the net and came back out the other side before laying off a delicate little pass right into the wheelhouse of Lovejoy for a one timer from the high slot.  There were other instances where Thompson was carrying the puck along the boards, being pestered by a defender but didn't seem bothered, just kept on skating right thorough.

The Ducks got their first and only power play opportunity late in the second.  The only unit I could make out was the existing line of Rakell, Etem and Nick Ritchie in front of Beauch and PTO Brendan Bell, so I assume the preferred first unit was the Getzlaf, Perry, Heatley line with Fowler and either Lovejoy or Lindholm on the points.  As you might expect, there was nothing spectacular about the PP, although there didn't seem to be the standard problem of gaining the zone against a very weak Avalanche side.

The reason the Ducks only had that one PP chance was because Bell scored while the only other penalty being called against Colorado was delayed.  Getzlaf was the extra attacker to come on and once the Ducks gained the blueline he held the puck for what seemed like 45 minutes (the Spanish soccer announcer on The Simpsons would have been proud) before teeing Bell up for the one timer to make it 4-0 3:18 into the third period.  If you think preseason is dull, try a 4-0 third period preseason game.

It was somewhat surprising that Bruce Boudreau decided to keep Frederik Andersen in for the entire game, rather than pulling him to give John Gibson some time midway through the game.  On second thought though, Gibson will most likely play all 60 minutes tomorrow against Phoenix.  Either way, he wasn't heavily tested.  Colorado put a fair number of shots on goal, 27 in all, but aside from a couple of rapid succession rebounds there was nothing Freddy should have been afraid of.

The only  other player specific note I have is on Ritchie.  He had a relatively quiet game, other than a pretty nasty miss high over the bar on a chance sitting right at the top of the crease in the first period and one beast mode shift in the third.  That crazy shift started when he tried to split the D all by himself.  He lost the puck but followed it up as it trickled to Berra and he almost forced an ugly turnover from the goalie.  As Ritchie caught up to the play back in the Ducks' zone (a little late, but don't blame him for being last into the D zone when he was the lone forechecker) he demolished a Colorado defenseman at the blueline causing a turnover and clearing the zone for the Ducks.  He's got some skills and is a big tough kid, but definitely can use some more seasoning in Junior at least for this year

The Ducks also took care of business on the road in Colorado with a 5-2 win thanks to goals by Brad Winchester (x2) Andrew Cogliano, Patrick Maroon and Jakob Silfverberg.  But I'm not going to regurgitate the boxscore of a game I didn't see (which doesn't count) any more than that... so here it is.

Tomorrow night the Ducks take on the Arizona "Don't-Call-Us-Phoenix" Coyotes at 7pm back in sunny Southern California, so stay tuned to AC for coverage of that.