Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ducks Gameday—Out of the Oiling Pan, Into the Fire

Anaheim Ducks (30-11-8, 2nd in west) at Calgary Flames (24-17-4, 6th in west)

(Author’s note: I’m writing this post only going off the boxscore of the Edmonton game; I’ll watch the DVR later)

my baloney has a last name, too. It’s L-L-L-L-W-O-W-O-L-L, with another letter to be added tonight at the Saddledome. For those counting at home, that’s more L’s in the Ducks’ last 10 games than they had in their first 39.

As Dan Wood notes, it is nearly a foregone conclusion that the Ducks will lose this last game before an eight-day break, apparently subscribing to the notion that regular losing is a good way to boost Pronger’s Hart and Giguere’s Vezina chances. And really, who’s to say that the Hart Trophy doesn’t belong somewhere in the middle of Giguere-Pronger-Beauchemin? The Ducks have gone from a .795 team to a .300 team, and their goal-differential has dropped by nearly 2 goals a game (+1.26 to -0.70)! That’s a staggering drop; usually dropoffs that significant are reserved for Joe Thornton when he gets to game one of the playoffs.

It’s really the price of rapid advancement, really, as suddenly big-time minutes are being occupied by guys who aren’t really ready—O’Brien, Jackman, DiPenta, and Huskins. Side note: I bet Vitaly Vishnevski and his ability to play 19 minutes a night on a division-leading team would really help, even after the team returns to health. Ducks have plenty of cap room, and hell, I already had the jersey.

Perhaps the craziest part about this recent slide is that Teemu Selanne is better than ever. He’s now the league leader in goals with 30, having potted 11 in the last 10 games, while the rest of the Anaheim forwards have combined for 13 over the same span.

This all-star break is really a strange (but welcome) time for this Ducks squad; even though there are lots of contradictory reports when players will return from injury, it seems assured that at least one of the big three will be back when play resumes on Jan. 28. I guess what’s strange about it is the unknown sense of relief—how good or bad does this squad become if Giguere is in the net, or if Beauchemin can play minutes, or if Pronger comes back, or any combination of those things? Improved results are coming, but to what extent remains to be seen.

I’ve spent plenty of time griping about our injuries, so I’ll take a second and acknowledge that the Flames have an injured Iginla and a healthy Friesen, which is a pretty ugly combination.

Bottom Line: There was a time not so long ago when an Anaheim team without Pronger and without Giguere went into a crucial game seven in the Saddledome and came away victorious. (Never mind the fact that Beauchemin led all skaters in G7 icetime or that Ruslan Salei led all skaters in G7 scoring.) This team used to have that underdog role mastered, and maybe it’s time to look back to the fighting spirit that existed back then.

Prediction: Ducks 3, Flames 1. Bryzgalov rediscovers his Calgary stinginess, Teemu rediscovers another diseased friend and delivers another hat trick, and I rediscover my appreciation for the beauty of a single regulation win.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the Ducks lose to the Oilers and then beat the Flames at home I'm going to suspect some sort of "axis-of-evil" collusion type activity...

Anonymous said...

Ha ha! Well put comment regarding Friesen. You DO understand our pain!

Earl Sleek said...

You DO understand our pain!

Maybe more than even you do. Remember, we're the only franchise that has acquired Jeff Friesen twice.

Aw, but you'll love him come G7.

Limey said...

This goes a long way to explaining Niedermayer's recent struggles. He has a stress fracture in his foot.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=192870&hubname=

We're down our top 2.5 defensemen + a #1 goalie. Yikes.

Earl Sleek said...

Jeez, if Scott is out tonight (although the TSN link claims he will miss no regular season games), I'll probably die of alcohol poisoning tonight.

And as much as the stress fracture in his foot explains SN's recent play, I think the amount he has been playing pretty much explains why he has the injury in the first place.

Carlyle, you'd better get your gear on. You might be our only Norris Trophy winner left.

Anonymous said...

To be fair though, if you're a Sharks fan, Jeff did some nice work for that team.

Anonymous said...

Nooooooo! Don't die, Sleek! I'll miss your random comments... (Even if they only come once in a blue moon)

Earl Sleek said...

To be fair though, if you're a Sharks fan, Jeff did some nice work for that team.

I suppose, but doesn't that make his current play even worse? The fact that he used to be somebody useful / productive / popular?

The real kick in the teeth, though, was his last useful game, which was a certain unmentionable G7 somewhere in the swamps of Jersey. Sporting his fucking smug-ass grin while he stuck a knife into my heart.

Ian Evans said...

I used to love me some Friesen, but hoo-boy has that been a long while now. Compare any of the top 6 Sharks forwards now to Friesen then, and I'll take the current crop any day of the week. He worked hard, but even when he was a 60 point guy he was a frustrating player to watch.

Nowadays, it looks like he decided to become Pat Faloon 2.0. I mean, would anyone have believed you in 1998 that Shean Donovan has turned into a more valuable forward than Freeze, with triple the points? (!!)

On the other hand, he did get a Cup with El Diablo....

Anonymous said...

Hey Earl, I can't see a reference to it anywhere here so in case you hadn't heard I think you garnered a reference on the Edmonton Journal's website - there's a fellow there - MacKinnon - who often refers to the Blogosphere and he talks about Anaheim blogger "wits" referring to the Ducks as the Sucks.

I believe that be you.

I would link to it but I'm lazy and as the old Spirit of the West song goes - "You'll have to excuse me, I'm not at my best, I've been drunk for a week, I need home for a rest"

Drinky post indeed.

Earl Sleek said...

Pat,

I'm pretty drunk right now, but I can't find any reference. Still, Anaheim Sucks not the most creative spin on Anaheim Ducks (nor the most profane).

Still, glad I could contribute to something for once. :)

Sorry about those two points to Calgary, but at this point, we give 'em to just about anyone (ha! except SJ and DAL!)

Anonymous said...

Funny, went back and couldn't find it either.

Hmm.

I would guess it was you - this guy is always referencing the Oilogosphere and I think we all link to you.

Whatever. Good weekend.