Everything Else

 vs. 

RECORDS: Hawks 9-14-5   Ducks 14-10-5

PUCK DROP: 9:30

TV: NBCSN

HERE WE GO AGAIN IT’S NEVER GONNA END: Anaheim Calling

God, writing that record out just hurts.

The Hawks quickly jaunt out west this week for a back-to-back against Anaheim and Vegas, and I’m sure landing in Vegas really late curtails any urge to enjoy the splendors and luxuries of Sin City–what I’m saying is that the Hawks will look like particular shit tomorrow night. But we’re not there yet. Let’s deal with a slog with the Ducks first.

Starting with the local Westside Hockey Club. There wouldn’t appear to many changes. Having failed to launch Chris Kunitz headfirst into a landfill at great speed, our best hope is that his “veteran leadership” that cost the Hawks any chance of a point on Sunday lands him in the pressbox for the foreseeable future. Erik Gustafsson should draw back in after a one-game ball-tap, which should send Jan Rutta back into the darkness of the Honda Center on his way to Rockford. Connor Murphy is on the trip but is not likely to play either game, but Sunday against Les Habitants would seem to be likely.

As for the rest of it, there isn’t much left to say. The forwards will get jumbled. Patrick Kane will play everywhere. We hope to notice Brendan Perlini at all. We hope that Dylan Strome builds on what was a decent game on Sunday. But if there’s ever a time to claim some new ground, it’s tonight.

Because don’t be fooled by the Ducks record or placing in a Pacific Division that has all the momentum of a pig in shit. This team BUH-LOWS. They’re on pace to give up a record number of shots per game. They give up the second-most attempts per game, and have the fourth-worst xGA/60 (care to guess who has the first?). They basically get shelled every night, and only heroic work by both John Gibson and Ryan Miller have kept this team from loitering around the entrance to the drugstore with the Hawks, Blues, and Kings.

Gibby, I can call him that, has cooled off a touch since his unholy October, but still came up with a .921 in November and had put up a 34- and 44-save effort in his two starts before getting clocked by the Capitals. Perhaps because of that, and blatant lack of respect for what the Hawks are, they’ll get to see Ryan Miller tonight, who’s only been at .954 at evens this year. So that’s nice.

Up front, the Ducks have a clear delineation from their top-six to the bottom-six. The top line of Pontus AbergRyan GetzlafRickard Rakell has been a weapon of late, with Aberg benefitting the most. I’m not telling you Getzlaf found his long-lost fuck to give, but he’s more than talented enough to set up plays while floating around the outside and reading…well I don’t think he can read but whatever dumbass fucks like him read. The second line is being carried by Adam Henrique, and both of these units start exclusively in the offensive zone. The next lines start exclusively in their own end, and because Ryan Kesler has maggots crawling out of every orifice now, they can’t escape.

The defense had been missing Hampus! Hampus! for a while, and will be without Cam Fowler for longer still. And while they want to believe that Brandon Montour and Josh Manson are that good to justify giving up on Shea Theodore as he excels in Vegas, they’ve been having their brains turned into potato soup most of the year. Maybe a fully-healthy Fowler and Lindholm help that, but this is a Randy Carlyle team and Randy Carlyle teams are terrible metrically while he finds reasons to justify his “Helmets Cause Concussions Because They Make Brains Hot” theory (this is a real thing).

Look, we all know the Hawks are going to get stuffed tomorrow night because they have in every meeting with the Knights. So if they actually still care, and I’m not convinced they do, and want to get a win just to see if they can still feel anymore, this would be the time. The Ducks are bad. The Hawks already deservedly beat them once this season.

Just get a win. Because it might be a nice change of pace.

 

Game #29 Preview Suite

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Usually, we try and give our Q&A correspondents a few days for these things. But because we try and block out Anaheim’s existence out of our minds, both team and place, we forgot to send these to our dear friend Jen Neale. Because she’s an angle, she helped us out anyway on short-notice, because she apparently loves a charity case. Follow her on Twitter @MsJenNeale. 

 

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We should say there’s always a caveat this early in the season. The Ducks have only played nine games. But if trends continue as they have begun for Anaheim, they might be one of the worst possession-teams the league has seen in some time. Which makes one wonder if John Gibson realizes just how much power he wields over the organization. He is the only reason they’ve won a game. If the Ducks are even average this year, with the way things are going, it’ll be because of Gibson. So if you’re Randy Carlyle, you’d better start buying all sorts of dinners, gifts, and free contractors for the house you’re going to build for him, if you want to keep your job. Because Gibson could send Carlyle to CV-writing with a snap of his fingers.

Randy Carlyle is an idiot, but so far this year he has put together a simply exquisite buffet of terrible hockey for the Anaheim fans to enjoy (not that they’d know the difference). Let’s review: The Ducks have a team-wide 41.1 CF%. That’s last in the league by a full point, behind such luminaries as the Islanders, Canucks, and Senators. Their expected-goals percentage, and you really want to take a breath or two before reading on here, is 36.9%. That starts with a “3,” That’s a full five points behind the 30th-placed team, which just so happens to be the Hawks. Just for a frame of reference, no team has finished a season with a mark below 40%. So if the Ducks want to make history, they’ll just have to stay on their current course.

The only team giving up more shots on goal than the Ducks at evens is the Hawks, and they have one period to thank for that. And where Joel Quenneville could point to a list of his d-men and quite rightly ask, “Just what the fuck do you want me to do with that?,” Carlyle has no such outs.

This is a team with Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, and Brandon Montour on its top four. Ok, the forwards have been without Jakob Silfverberg, Nick Ritchie, and Ondrej Kase due to injury. Don’t you dare mention Corey Perry’s aged and poisoned ass when talking about team speed. His feet went out the door two years ago. But still, Andrew Cogliano, Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique, and Sam Steel are around. This isn’t a team bereft of speed.

So why is it playing like an overturned meat truck? They have d-men that can get themselves up the ice. They have forwards that can chase down the puck. And it’s all not working at all. They continue to dump the puck in in a league where most teams have d-men who are just going to turn around and skate away from you. Their d-men don’t stand up at the line even though they have recovery speed everywhere. And no one can seem to spell “breakout” much less complete one.

Carlyle was an idiotic, old-boys hire from the get-go. This is how insular the NHL had gotten, as GM Bob Murray didn’t just go to the Old Boys’ Club for a coach after turfing Bruce Boudreau and his allergies to home Game 7s, he went back to the coach they’d already kicked out. Did he just walk out to the parking lot and find Carlyle wandering around aimlessly kicking pebbles and looking like he had nowhere to go? Hiring him for the coaching job in the same fashion as you would adopt a lost dog actually makes the most sense.

The Ducks “success” under Carlyle basically amounts to Cam Talbot dying of exhaustion in the ’17 playoffs. They were crushed by the Sharks last year, signaling that things had to pivot from where they were. They clearly haven’t.

Gibson might keep Carlyle in a job all season, if he sees fit. Maybe the returning forwards will provide more pop. But clearly this is a ship that’s got a ton of holes in it, and the water level is rising.

 

Game #9 Preview Suite

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Jen Neale has been doing this for us whenever the Ducks are around for close to 10 years. She really deserves better. Follow her @MsJenNeale. 

The Ducks sit atop the Pacific at this early stage. Also, every metric says they’ve been getting wailed on every night and should basically be winless. Which is the truth?
They’re absolutely getting wailed on each night and I think it’s finally starting to catch up with them now that there’s tape to study. Nobody knew what to make of this team because of all the injuries and the unknown names in the roster.
Is this the year John Gibson is a Vezina finalist? Is it going to have to be if the Ducks are to have any hope?
Ughhh. John Gibson is the bane of my Ducks existence. He signed a massive eight-year contract in the off-season and is putting up a good start. The thing is his play style is unsustainable from a health standpoint. He’s going to have a stellar first half and then probably end up missing 20+ games over the second half of the season. By the time he’s “ready for the playoffs” the Ducks are on the brink of elimination and relying on old man Ryan Miller. It’s the same story every year. Sigh. I still miss Frederik Andersen. ANYHOO, the Ducks will make the playoffs regardless of Gibson and get bounced in the first round because of Gibson.
There’s a couple kids in the lineup these days in Sam Steel and Kiefer Sherwood (who needs a new name). Real reasons to get excited? Anyone we missed?
This season is the culmination of Randy Carlyle’s worst nightmare. He doesn’t have an enforcer in the lineup, he’s been mandated to play fast, not the grind style he’s always done, and he HAS to play a lineup full of rookies because of injuries. Kesler has the hips of a 90-year-old, Getzlaf is a perpetual lower-body injury, Perry will be out at least five months with a torn MCL, and Jakob Silfverberg is out with a non-displaced fracture in his hand. It’s like Adam Henrique and the Electric Mayhem out there. (That doesn’t even make sense. I just wanted to write it.)
Kiefer Sherwood is a great name. So is Sam Steel. I’m enjoying watching Maxime Comtois, also a great name, a physical kid with a great shot. There are about 394283907842 rookies in the lineup but those three are tops right now.
The Ducks have a ton of young d-men and some young forwards who at least look useful. They don’t need a total rebuild given what’s already here. But do they have the forwards to take the responsibilities off Kesler, Perry, and Getzlaf and eventually pivot from them? A rebuild on the fly, if you will. 
Rebuild on the fly is the Ducks style. I give Perry, Getzlaf and Kesler two years max before they just give up and only show up to collect checks. The saving grace is Martin Madden and the Ducks amateur scouting department. The Ducks have given away more talent (Shea Theodore, William Karlsson, et. al) than most teams in the league. Since they’ve spent the last two, maybe three, drafts picking up more forwards and we’re starting to finally see them emerge from junior. I like what Dallas Eakins is doing with the Ducklings down in San Diego and feel good about them eventually filling out the lineup with Rickard Rakell, Silfverberg, Henrique and the rest of the Electric Mayhem.

 

Game #9 Preview Suite

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They’re just never as bad as you or I want them to be. And they’ll be worse this year, but not bad enough.

While Bob Murray certainly had a hand in torching the Hawks on the ice in the late-90s, his work for the most part in Anaheim has been all right. Their depth has eroded, which happens to most teams, but they seem to keep producing youngsters who can at least step in and not have their brain drip out their ear. Corey Perry is now dead to match his stink, and Ryan Getzlaf will probably be an even bigger passenger than he was before if that’s even possible. Ryan Kesler may not even play, and that may not even be a bad thing.

And most of all, they play in a division that’s a car crash after the Sharks and maybe the Knights (let’s not just put their name in ink just yet until we see if Marc-Andre Fleury tosses up a .907 first). In any other division in hockey they’d struggle to make the playoffs. In this one, simply through Josh Gibson and their defense they probably don’t even have to worry about a wildcard spot, unless the Flames or Oilers get a wild hair on their ass. Let’s run it.

20187-2018: 44-25-13 101 points  235 GF 216 GA  48.6 CF% 48.4 xGF% 8.1 SH% .933 SV%

Goalies: Not only did the Ducks get John Gibson‘s best season, they got one of the better backup seasons in the league from Ryan “They Keep Calling Me” Miller. Gibson threw a .926 at the league and Miller supported that with a .928, which came in handy in 28 appearances. The Ducks get to run that back again this season.

That marked the third-straight season that Gibson was over .920 and second-straight over .927 at evens. As he’s only 25 and entering what you would think his peak would be, this is probably the norm and any team that can sport a .925 goalie every night is going to find it hard to be bad. Which is annoying because everyone, including everyone in Anaheim who would clearly like to be doing anything else but can’t because it’s fucking Orange County, would be happier if the Ducks were irrelevant.

If there’s one thing Gibson is going to have to overcome is an incomplete-at-best playoff resume, as he was silly putty against the Sharks last year and not much better against the Predators or Oilers the year before that. But the Ducks were so overmatched and outplayed by the Sharks I don’t think it matters anyway.

At 38, Miller has found a home as a backup, and the Ducks are one of the few teams that could survive an injury to their starter. You wouldn’t want Miller playing 50 games, but anything short of that is a boon.

Defense: On paper, this has a chance to be a pretty young, dynamic blue line. And yet…

You look at Hampus! Hampus!, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, and Brandon Montour and you think, “Wow, that’s a lot of mobile, skilled d-men there.” And yet you watch the Ducks and you struggle to find a shit to give. Maybe it’s Randy Carlyle‘s system, but none of these guys pushed the play at a positive rate last year. Cam Fowler has mastered the “So What?” method his entire career. Really, only Manson and Hampus! Hampus! were weapons last season, and they don’t play as much as Fowler and Montour for reasons. If Manson and Hampus! Hampus! take the top pairing minutes and Fowler and Montour do a little more bum-slaying, it will be good. If Carlyle’s mush-brain gets in the way…

The third-pairing looks to be rookie Marcus Pettersson and glorified ent Andrej Sustr, who’s never done anything for anyone. Korbinian Holzer could return in March or so, if that’s something you want to wait for and believe me you don’t.

Forwards: If the Ducks were smart, or smarter, they’d have been trying to move Ryan Getzlaf and his inability to find a fuck to give anywhere down to the #2 center role at least two years ago. But they haven’t, counting on the gremlins and duct tape that Ryan Kesler was made out of to do all the hard work. Well, now thats not an option, and the Ducks will be rolling with essentially an older, balder, dumber, less-determined Jonathan Toews as their #1 center. Getzlaf managed 61 points in just 56 games last year, which would make you think he rediscovered his give-a-shit, but don’t you believe it. He got run over in the playoffs, which is his finisher, and you can count on him to do so again this year. And without Kesler around, he may have to take on harder assignments which he’ll have about as much interest in as your dog does of learning geometry.

Corey Perry died, and good riddance. Rickard Rakell is going to have to do a lot of the scoring to make the top line go, which makes his 34 goals last year pretty handy. Without Kesler, Adam Henrique will be the #2 center with Fifth Feather fave Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg, which is a pretty nifty second-line except thanks to Perry’s rotting corpse and Getzlaf’s rotting want-to it’s probably the first line.

The depth after that falls off a cliff though, with really only Ondrej Kase having any level of NHL-success on the bottom six. If the top line misfires, there’s not going to be anyone to pick up the slack, and that’s even if Carlyle could be convinced to trust young kids. Troy Terry and Sam Steel come in with serious junior/college pedigree, and the four Ducks fans who actually know what’s going on will be livid when The Toast Maker is trying to cram Patrick Eaves in ahead of one of them.

Outlook: If Steel and Terry stick, this is a pretty young Ducks team below the top line. The goalies are good, and with the right coach the defense could be as well. But Perry is done, and Getzlaf has to pile up the points that end up not mattering if this team is going to score enough. Still, there is no softer landing than the Pacific., They’re not the Sharks, they’re probably not the Knights. But they’re better than whatever else is stuck to the pipes out west. Another playoff appearance awaits. Just don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

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Everything Else

 vs. 

RECORDS: Hawks 28-29-8   Ducks 32-21-12

PUCK DROP: 3:00 PM

TV: NBCSN Chicago

UNDERGROUND DISNEYLAND OVERLORDS: Anaheim Calling

After showing an actual pulse yesterday in the third period, after a comeback we hadn’t seen in a very long while, and after an actually stirring win (though signifying nothing), the Hawks reward is to huff it down the I-5 to Orange County. Almost doesn’t seem fair. Anaheim isn’t a reward for anything.

What the Hawks will find when they get there is much like yesterday, a team clutching the last playoff spot with one or two cla…feet? Beaks? Whatever, carry your own metaphor here. The Ducks are in the last wild card spot, one point ahead of both the Avs and Blues and three ahead of the Flames. They’re four behind the Kings for the right to have another Battle of California in the first round.

It’s been up and down since you last saw Anaheim take a tight one over the Hawks here at the UC 20 days ago. They won the next three in Dallas, Vegas and Minnesota, but then found a way to only find a point in back-to-back games against the Coyotes and Oilers. They bounced back on Thursday with a win over the similarly flailing Blue Jackets.

Not much has changed with the Ducks in that time, roster-wise. GM Bob Murray didn’t think this team was worth investing too heavily into at the deadline, and with good cause. The problems they have–i.e. Cory Perry died, Ryan Getzlaf stopped caring about three seasons ago, and Ryan Kesler is now made of gum and duct tape–aren’t going to be solved by any trade. The Ducks can’t score much thanks to Perry dragging down the top line and Kesler the second, and Adam Henrique on the third can only do so much. But they don’t give up much either, thanks to the sterling form of John Gibson and Randy “Concussions Happen Because The Brain Gets Hot While Wearing A Helmet” Carlyle’s system not really allowing for any adventure on either side. They do that while still playing Kevin Bieksa, which is a hell of an accomplishment.

That’ll make for a real decision for Murray this summer, as Gibson will be heading into the last year of his deal. Thankfully for Murray it’ll only be an RFA problem but we know what starting goaltenders go for. Another big year from Gibson and he could ask for a lot from a team committed to paying their three cadavers at forward $23.4 million from here until The Reckoning.

While the Ducks will be flapping furiously until the end of the season (see what I did there?) to make the playoffs, that’s basically only window dressing for them. This team is most likely first-round cannon fodder for anyone they see, unless Gibson simply goes nuts. They don’t have the front-line scoring as Perry and Getzlaf are just too easily taken out of games now (as they always were in any game that mattered when they could move). Hampus! Hampus! is having a Norris quality season but Carlyle is insisting on playing him with Bieksa now, so what’s that shutting down? Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour aren’t doing that either. Stranger things have happened of course, but don’t bet on it. And once they’re out, this Ducks window is almost certainly closed.

Shouldn’t see too many changes from the Hawks, other than in net where JF Berube will hopefully not have Erik Gustafsson trying to kill him emotionally and physically as he did in San Jose. Q could get cute we guess and start Forsberg again, trying to ride the wave of yesterday. Whatever at this point. More of The Nuclear Option and see just what Carlyle wants to combat that with.

We know most of you are rooting for losses and better drafting position. We don’t blame you. But given how much we hate Anaheim and that they still have something to play for, seeing the Hawks try and build something off of yesterday and making life harder for the Ducks has major appeal. This one won’t be pretty given how the Ducks normally play, their stakes in this one, and the Hawks having played yesterday. But as is always the case in Orange County, just get through it and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

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 vs. 

RECORDS: Ducks 27-20-11   Hawks 24-25-8

PUCK DROP: 7:30

TV: NBCSN Chicago

NOT MISCHA BARTON: Anaheim Calling

It seems so long ago now that games between these teams really meant something. Really got the blood going. There was the one in 2013 in Anaheim that was between the two best winning percentages in like NHL history. Then another one a week later. There was the ’15 Conference Final, one of the weirdest and stressful series the Hawks ever played. It’s memories like that we’ll have to cling to even tighter now, to get through the last two months here. They’re going to seem a little foggier than they did.

Anyway, the Hawks are scheduled to show up to host the Ducks tonight. The Ducks still have things to play for, as due to the Pacific Division’s utter incompetence they haven’t been bounced from those playoff spots and they’re only three points behind the Wild for a wild card spot. Not that you’ve thought about the Ducks at all this season, and really nor should you.

For one, the Ducks have been beat up, and they weren’t all that interesting to begin with. Getzlaf, Perry (not sure if it still matters), Kase, Kesler, Fowler, Hampus! Hampus!, and Eaves have all missed significant time this year. They’ve barely had a full lineup at any point. At the moment only Eaves is still out, so this is as close as they’ve gotten.

But even that lineup isn’t really impressive, at least not at forward. Corey Perry is just an anal fissure now, as he can’t score or move. He’s basically a slow Burrows, except he’s so slow he can’t even get there to provide his normal bullshit. He won’t get suspended at any time because he’ll never be there in time to knee anyone. Ryan Getzlaf stopped caring about shooting or skating in between the circles at least four years ago, and that’s only gotten worse. Kesler  is on one hip now and can’t really score to make it all count the way he used to, and he can barely get in range so you can hear whatever he’s yapping about. That basically leaves the Ducks without a #1 center or much of a #1 line. Rickard Rakell is making a fist of it but a good portion of his scoring comes on the man-advantage. Kase, Silfverberg, apple of Fifth Feather’s eye Cogliano, these are all useful players but they’re middle six players. Adam Henrique has threatened at being more since coming over from Jersey, and without him, boy who knows where they’d be? It’s hardly a shock that the Ducks are 24th in goals per game, and Randy Carlyle’s “hit that thing with that thing” method of opening up offense or any jar in his house isn’t helping.

It’s unfortunate, because there could be a pretty dynamic, young defensive group here. Hampus! Hampus! might be the most underrated player in the league. Brandon Montour has had a breakout season. Josh Manson has kept pace with Hampus! Hampus! Cam Fowler actually turned out to be what we always made fun of him for not being. But they’re weighed down by Kevin “Vacuous Maw” Bieksa and Francois “No I’m Not Dead I Always Look Like That” Beauchemin. And they aren’t given much license to get creative from their coach, to which a good dump-in is akin to a religion. Whenever the Ducks blow it up, if they decide to or even can, the blue line will be a nice building block.

They’ve been backed up most of the year by John Gibson, who’s just good enough to break your heart. He actually goes RFA this year which should make for some interesting viewing. Either way, the Ducks should be a desperate team tonight.

For the Hawks…I don’t even know any more. It looks like Erik Gustafsson will be the scratch tonight as Carl Dahlstrom has impressed enough to stick around. And that’s fine. Glass Jeff has been punted back to Rockford, and that’s fine. J.F. Berube is your new import, which tells you everything you need to know. Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma are on the top two lines as Stan hangs a “For Sale” sign out in the hopes of mid-round picks for both. To compensate for that Top Cat is on a fourth line with Hartman and Sharp, and we are left to look around and where we are and think about all our regrets and mistakes in our lives.

At this point, as we’ve said, it’s really just about pride. The Hawks really didn’t play badly in Vegas and were undone by a goalie who simply didn’t belong. Not really anyone’s fault on that. They at least looked like they wanted to be there. Should be an interesting atmosphere at the UC tonight. First off, probably won’t be more than three-quarters full, which will come as a shock to some. And it will be a crowd ready to groan, jeer, and boo at a moment’s notice. This is the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days! They’re back, there’s no choices left.

 

Game #58 Preview

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Jen Neale is formerly of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog, and now works in Esports but still follows the Ducks religiously. And quite frankly, we don’t need more than one Ducks fan in our lives. 

The Ducks have had their injury problems, but are kind of floating in the netherworld below the playoffs and all the metrics suggest that’s about right. Is this where this team should be?

Yes, I would say so. John Gibson is epically average – as I’ve insisted for years. Randy Carlyle is who we thought he was, Mr. Dump ‘n Chase. Kesler is playing at 60% after offseason hip surgery. The Ducks are lucky the rest of the Pacific (sans Vegas) is a dumpster fire or they’d be worse off.

 

Rickard Rakell is having another big season, though accumulating a fair amount on the power play. Is he or will he be a premier even-strength scorer?

The kid is magical. It depends on if he can stay healthy and who he plays with. Keep him with Getzlaf and he probably starts getting more even strength goals. Lord knows Getzlaf won’t shoot and Perry couldn’t put a beach ball in the net.

Corey Perry has 11 goals so far after 19 last year. Is he D-O-N-E?
 He certainly appears to have stopped stealing souls or drinking the blood of sacrificed animals in order to gain his talent. He’s still doing Corey Perry things on the ice, but the scoring isn’t there. I don’t think he’s done-done, but he’s not scoring 25 goals anymore. Dude doesn’t even play in OT because he’s too slow. When Getzlaf is out-skating you, you got a problem. 
On the flip side, we’ve been trying to make a Norris case for Hampus Lindholm even if he doesn’t have the points. That good?
So, so good. He embodies what the Norris Trophy should be rewarded for. The sad part is he plays out West and won’t score a ton of points so he won’t get the attention he deserves. His shot is getting better so maybe one day he’ll get a Norris (for points).
Where is this Ducks team headed in the next couple years?
 Hear that creaking sound? That’s the window closing. Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler are signed until the end of time, and they’re clearly on the downside of their careers. Around them are a lot of young, but good parts. If Patrick Eaves never plays again, I’d hope the Ducks could keep Adam Henrique with that money. He’s been a revelation.
 I’m mostly concerned with what Bob Murray does when Gibson’s contract is up after next season. He’ll be an RFA and Murray looooooves him. I don’t want the Ducks money tied up in an average goalie for a long time. They’ve already done they with three forwards. It’s only going to make future success by the team damn near impossible. (I still miss Freddie Anderson.)

 

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All it takes is one Cup. Even if that season you got to toss Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger over the boards for 45 minutes of every 60. That’s how Randy Carlyle has managed to duck the reputation of a moron, even though we all saw him fail to make toast in Toronto.

When the Ducks originally fired Carlyle, it was because he took that Cup-winning roster and managed to win just one more playoff round in the next four seasons, getting fired in the fifth. His hard-ass ways had turned off Perry and Getzlaf, and the affable Bruce Boudreau was seen as the necessary gear change.

So it’s hilariously short-sighted, or unoriginal, that when it came time to replace Boudreau the only name GM Bob Murray thought of, “The guy we fired for this guy.” It’s so hockey. What other sport has retreads like this since the Yankees did it with Billy Martin?

Carlyle and his supporters, basically Pierre McGuire, would point to last year’s conference final appearance as proof it was the right move. Except they needed an utter miracle to not lose to the heavily flawed Edmonton Oilers in the second round after getting a sweetheart draw by playing the dogshit Flames in the first. Getting to be in a weak division saved him. It probably won’t this year.

Carlyle would point to the amount of injuries the Ducks have suffered, but that doesn’t make up for the Ducks not having an area you can say they do well. They’re a bad possession team, bad defensively, and only have John Gibson to thank for not being marooned at the bottom. Carlyle has watched Cory Perry turn to silly putty of course, and Getzlaf hasn’t really cared beyond assists from the outside in like four years.

Still, with Fowler, Lindholm Manson, and Montour, this team could get up and go if he were so inclined. Instead Kevin “Guess What I Just Swallowed?” Bieksa is on the second pairing. They still worry about “getting on the body.”

But whatever, Anaheim sucking along with the Hawks is just fine with us.

 

Game #58 Preview

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I bet before Quenneville decided to rest everyone that matters save The Fun Boys and Kruger and a handful of others–and if the Hawks’ cap space and travel situation would have allowed it they would have iced the entire Hogs team–he looked ahead and saw that the Hawks would be playing a game that didn’t matter to them but did matter to the Ducks. And once he saw that I’m sure he knew that this game was going to involve a far too high level of bullshit that there would be no reason to subject his veterans to. I’m sure he told Toews that he can’t risk putting him out there to deal with any Kesler ridiculousness and losing him for any game that matters. Don’t need any of the top three d-men taking Perry slashes to the ankles, and so on.

And so it played out, the Ducks proving why they would be the most detestable organization in the league if anyone every bothered to remember they exist. This is a team that’s now won it’s division five straight seasons, and do you even give a shit? Of course you don’t, because it never matters in the end. The only time you think about them is when they prove time and time again that the lessons they learned from winning in 2007 have nothing to do with the two Hall of Famers they had on the blue line, the real reason they won. They’re still under the impression that GRIT and HITZ and TOUGHNESS and FAAAARRRRTTTT is currency in this league, which is how they end up re-hiring a giant pimple who can’t make toast as coach.