Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
Daniel and I were at tonight's game against Phoenix at Honda Center. The Ducks squad edged their Coyotes counterparts on a 2 goal effort from Bobby Ryan and shootout goals from Ryan and Lupul. Hiller and Pielmeier both played, with the latter skating into the game with 9:57 remaining in the 2nd.
Before we talk further about tonight's game, let's take a look at the lineup for tomorrow, again, per J.P. Hoornstra:
70-Brittain 11-Koivu 10-Perry
32-Calder 48-Ebbett 8-Selanne
52-Donally 22-Marchant 16-Parros
61-McCue 64-McMillan 47-Weller
Should be interesting. And Daniel and I will be at that game. We'll also be at tomorrow morning's practice to watch tonight's squad get yelled at something fierce. There were some boneheaded plays (a turnover in front of the crease by Brookbank) and some downright frustrated players (Bodie finally just dropped the gloves), but Daniel, in your opinion, which players took a big step back tonight?
Well, the first guy who did a lot of damage to his chances was Nicolas Deschamps. His talent did shine through at times, but his overall game just wasn't complete. He still wasn't making good dumps, his defensive game was lacking and he just looked lost on the ice. He's a brilliant offensive guy, and he created a scoring opportunity below the circles out of nothing. But I think he still can't process how fast the game is at this level.
My second choice for a guy who hurt his chances of making the team was Maxime Macenauer. I don't know what to say. He was still good along the boards, but he just didn't produce anything offensively. He was invisible tonight.
Finally, Steve Eminger had a rough game. It's clear he's an Eastern Conference player, because he keeps trying to play defense with just his stick. He wasn't taking the body. He took a bad penalty that led to the first Phoenix goal. It might have just been the fact that he's still unfamiliar with the system, but he couldn't move the puck well at all tonight. In fact, the only guy who had a good night on the blueline was Brookbank, and then he ruined it by creating the most ridiculous turnover that led to the game tying goal. The D race didn't become any clearer tonight.
I think I was most disappointed in Troy Bodie and Matt Beleskey. Bodie opened the game with a great hit, separating his guy from the puck. Unfortunately, he hung around too long to admire his work, and the pass from his linemate bounced off the back of his skate. It was pretty much downhill from there. A good dump and a good play here and there, but he ultimately dropped the gloves just to even out the quality of his game film. It was a good scrap; he switched hands on his guy and kept throwing bombs.
Beleskey didn't disappoint me outright; he played a PK without a stick for almost the full 2 minutes in his zone. But he just wasn't throwing his body around enough. Some tenacious play with Nokelainen and Brown tonight really would have impressed the coaching staff.
I'm not really sure how many players were taking tonight's game seriously. Of the regular Ducks, I'd say Nokelainen was the only one treating it like it was a regular season game. And of the rooks and newcomers, only Sexton was really pushing hard all game. I think tomorrow night's game might be closer to NHL speed.