The Anaheim Ducks sent promising forward Emerson Etem back to the minors on Tuesday and, to hear Bruce Boudreau explain it, the decision was less about the player and more about the roster he was trying to crack.
“We’re a good team,” Boudreau said, as per Ducks color analyst Dan Wood. “It’s not easy for a young guy to make our team.”
Etem, the club’s first-round pick (29th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has six goals and 10 points in 26 games this year, and is averaging over 13 minutes per contest. He’s one of Anaheim’s fastest skaters and figures prominently on the penalty kill (which, admittedly, isn’t great, ranking 21st in the NHL at 81.1 percent.)
He’s already been sent down to Norfolk once this season — scoring five points in three games for the Admirals — but that stint was brief, and it’ll be interesting how long this current one lasts.
The Ducks are slowly getting healthy, with Mathieu Perreault set to return this weekend and Jakob Silfverberg “getting closer and closer,” according to Boudreau.
With all the injuries the Ducks have suffered on defense this year — Sheldon Souray and Luca Sbisa most notably — the team has been forced to rely on 21-year-old Cam Fowler more than ever.
And according to head coach Bruce Boudreau, Fowler has been up to the challenge.
“He’s finally grown up and now he can play defense,” Boudreau told the OC Register. “And I don’t mean that in a negative way.
“We’re putting him out in all defensive situations, whereas in the past it would not be that way.”
Fowler, the club’s first-round pick (12th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, made the leap from junior to the NHL as a 18-year-old and did it with aplomb, scoring 10 goals and 40 points in 76 games in his rookie campaign.
Of course, Fowler also went an ugly minus-25 that year, had poor possession/shot differential statistics (notably Corsi) and wasn’t trusted in a lot of key defensive moments… which isn’t a good thing for a defenseman.
But three years later — despite not turning 22 ’til December, Fowler has over 200 games of NHL experience — he’s matured into a more all-around blueliner, leading all skaters in TOI per game (23:17) and all Ducks defensemen in points (13).
The noted improvement in his game has Fowler thinking of a possible spot on Team USA for the ’14 Winter Olympics in Sochi. American GM David Poile noted recently that he and his advisers have whittled their defenseman shortlist to 12 — one of which is 19-year-old Preds defenseman Seth Jones — so it stands to reason Fowler could be in the mix of 12, especially since Poile said the best players will go, regardless of age.
Much was made of the complex relationship between Bruce Boudreau and Alex Semin during their time together in Washington.
Now, with the two set to meet tonight — Boudreau’s Ducks take on Semin’s Canes in Carolina — the veteran bench boss tried to explain Semin in classic Boudreauian terms.
“There’s a saying about Alex,” Boudreau said, as per the Raleigh News & Observer. “He’s an enigma wrapped in something, wrapped in something else.”
Boudreau, as straight a shooter as there is, has always been blunt when in describing Semin, the guy that was both a 40-goal scorer and healthy scratch in Washington. Semin’s play can be erratic and Boudreau has no problem saying it, which led to acrimony and perception the two never got along.
Not exactly accurate, according to Boudreau. (Boudreau actually sold the ‘Canes on signing Semin.)
“[Semin] can show flashes of absolute brilliance one minute,” he explained. “Then you’re going, ‘What are you doing?’ the next.
“But a tremendously skilled player. He can beat you on his own when he’s on.”
Unfortunately for Carolina, Semin hasn’t been on much this season. He has just three goals through 18 games and is on pace for 14, which would be his lowest full-season total since his rookie campaign (Semin scored 13 in last year’s lockout-shortened campaign).
What’s more, his playmaking ability seems to have fallen off as well. He has just five assists this season, a far cry from the 31 he had a year ago. That total placed him second on the team, trailing only captain Eric Staal (who had 35).
While things can change by Thursday, it sounds like Ryan Getzlaf will miss a third consecutive game for the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said that it “doesn’t look very good” for the 28-year-old to play through an upper-body injury against the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the team’s radio analyst Dan Wood reports.
Getzlaf likely was injured sometime during a Nov. 8 win against the Buffalo Sabres. He generated his first NHL hat trick and also had an assist in that game, so it’s tough timing.
It isn’t all bad news for the Ducks, however, as Wood believes Jonas Hiller and Kyle Palmieri will return after struggling with illnesses.
Anaheim is enjoying another high-end start to a season, although some Ducks fans might be irritated that the team coughed up a lead and eventually lost to the lowly Florida Panthers last night.
The Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers squared off nearly a month ago, but they certainly haven’t forgotten each other.
On Oct. 10, the Ducks whipped the Rangers 6-0 in one of New York’s worst losses of the season — what made it worse, though, was that it came on the heels of New York’s actual worst loss, a 9-2 blasting in San Jose.
Prior to Monday’s rematch at MSG, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was asked what he remembered about the six-goal beating in Anaheim.
His reply was blunt:
That led Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau (who, in case you forgot, had an altercation already this season with Colorado’s Patrick Roy) to reply thusly:
It’ll be curious to see how all this plays out tonight, given Boudreau and Vigneault have no real history of animosity. In fact, when Boudreau picked the No. 8 Kings to upset top-seeded Vancouver in the opening round of the ’12 playoffs, he told CBC that Vigneault was “a really good coach.”
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