Ryan Getzlaf, Jordie Benn

Stars frustrate Ducks’ star players in Game 3 win


Ryan Getzlaf just couldn’t take it anymore. So, he began punching back.

The Dallas Stars seemed intent on disrupting and frustrating the star players of the Anaheim Ducks – the perfect case in point coming late in the second period when Stars’ forward Antoine Roussel and Ducks’ captain Getzlaf began exchanging punches with their gloves still on, causing a massive melee.

Getzlaf is still wearing a protective visor down by his jaw, after he took a puck to the face in the series opener last week. The Stars won their first playoff game since 2008, skating to a 3-0 victory on Monday.

“I’m pretty sure if you watch the scrums, our guys got punched in the face a few times,” said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff afterward, as per the Associated Press. “Eventually you’re going to punch back. … For us, we know we’ve got a good skating team and I think that we can frustrate.”

Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau also offered his opinion on the matter.

“We’ve warned the refs about them, anyway. It’s just something that I guess you do anything to win, but it’s not something that I think our team would do,” he said afterward, as per the Dallas Morning News.

“We’ll take them and be as physical and be as mean as they want, but obviously they know there’s something wrong with his jaw, so they’re going after it.”

Getzlaf was dominant in Game 2, but didn’t have nearly the impact in Game 3, with more penalty minutes (only two) than shots on goal (only one).

“You’ve got to stay as disciplined as you can, but you have to protect yourself, too. I never expected them to target my face that much,” said Getzlaf.

The experience in a losing cause is apparently, at least based on the post-game comments of the Anaheim players, setting the table for a spirited fourth game in this series, with the Ducks still leading two-games-to-one.

“They’re going to get in our best player’s face, I guess Wednesday night we’re going to have to do the same thing,” said Ducks’ forward Patrick Maroon, as per Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register.

Maroon added: “We’re going to have to show that intensity. We can’t let that happen to our star players. They’ll get it.”

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

Brandon Sutter, Cam Talbot
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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado

Detroit waives Cleary

Daniel Cleary
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Dan Cleary‘s time as a Red Wing could soon be over.

Detroit placed the veteran forward on waivers Wednesday afternoon, per TSN. The move comes after Cleary signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $950,000 just weeks before training camp, then proceeded to play in four of Detroit’s exhibition contests, scoring two points.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens now.

At 36, Cleary doesn’t have much left in the tank and is coming off a year in which he played just 17 games. But as we noted back in the summer, this seems to all be part of a larger plan.

From the Free Press:

A situation that bears the handprint of former coach Mike Babcock has put the Wings in the position of being honor-bound to keep Cleary, 36, aboard, even as he is coming off a season that saw him play just 17 games, producing two points.

This debacle began two years ago. The Wings had offered Cleary a three-year, $6.25-million contract before he became unrestricted July 1. He declined. The Wings then signed Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson, leaving little space under the salary cap. Then Cleary didn’t sign with anyone. September rolled around. The Flyers offered Cleary a three-year deal for $8.25 million, but Cleary then decided he wanted to stay in Detroit.

He ended up flying to Traverse City, where the Wings already had begun training camp. He met in a hangar with Holland and Babcock. Holland pointed to a near maxed-out budget. Babcock pushed hard for Cleary to be signed. What resulted was a one-year, $1.75-million deal with the understanding the Wings would take into consideration what Cleary left on the Flyers table.

After playing out that $1.75 million deal, Cleary re-signed in Detroit last summer to a one-year, $1.5 million pact — so, essentially, the Wings are now in final year of an unspoken three-year agreement that’s (sorta) aimed at repaying what got left on the table in Philly.

Got all that?

If Cleary gets through waivers, the Wings could send him to AHL Grand Rapids. Since he signed a one-way deal, he’d get his money regardless.

There’s also the option of Babcock and the Leafs claiming Cleary off waivers — a scenario that, as unlikely as it sounds, has already made the rounds on social media.