Anaheim Ducks

Video: Crawford tries to bump Rakell, falls over, scrum ensues

8 Comments

It’s getting feisty between the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2.

Even Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford decided to get in on the action, as he tried to throw a hit on Rickard Rakell outside of his crease after a whistle. The hit maybe didn’t go as planned. Crawford fell and a scrum ensued. No penalties were handed out.

Seconds before that, Ducks forward Jiri Sekac busted out the toe-drag move for a scoring chance and then threw a massive open-ice hit on Antoine Vermette.

Video: Stoner penalized after dangerous cross check from behind

18 Comments

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner was given a minor penalty for cross checking after a hit from behind on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger.

The incident occurred early in the first period.

The cross check sent Kruger dangerously head-first into the end boards. Kruger remained in the game. After the play was stopped, Stoner got his hands up in the face of Chicago’s Andrew Shaw, who went to confront the Ducks’ blue liner, but was called for only the one initial infraction.

Video: Blackhawks power play strikes twice early in Game 2

2 Comments

The Chicago Blackhawks, trailing 1-0 in this Western Conference Final, got off to a quick start in Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks, courtesy of their power play.

Andrew Shaw opened the scoring just 2:14 into the first period with his second of the post-season, making Patrick Maroon pay for an earlier boarding penalty.

Just over four minutes later, the Blackhawks increased their lead thanks to a Marian Hossa power play goal, also his second of these playoffs.

However, any Blackhawks’ euphoria from the dream start was short-lived. The Ducks, on a goal from Andrew Cogliano, cut Chicago’s lead to 2-1 just before the midway point of the first period.

The puck deflected in off the skate of Cogliano, but the goal stood after a brief review.

In case you haven’t noticed, the NHL is a young man’s game

13 Comments

Just for the sake of the discussion — and since everyone’s talking about Tyler Johnson today — here are all the players who have scored at least five goals in these playoffs:

Johnson (11), Corey Perry (7), Patrick Kane (7), Nikita Kucherov (6), Chris Kreider (6), Vladimir Tarasenko (6), Alex Killorn (6), Derek Stepan (5), Alex Ovechkin (5), Derick Brassard (5), Evgeny Kuznetsov (5), Max Pacioretty (5), Matt Beleskey (5), and Colin Wilson (5).

That’s 14 players. Can you pick out the oldest?

The answer is Anaheim’s Perry, who turned 30 on Saturday. Only slightly younger than Perry, Ovechkin will turn 30 in September.

Otherwise, it’s all players who are comfortably in their 20s, their legs still full of burst, their bodies not yet worn down by the grind of taking hundreds of pucks hard to the net, and all the punishment that goes with scoring goals in today’s NHL.

This isn’t to say that once a goal-scorer turns 30 he should be put out to pasture, like the theory about running backs in the NFL. Marian Gaborik, Justin Williams, and Martin St. Louis all had productive postseasons last year. This year is perhaps an extreme case.

But it does show the importance of youth, and how quickly a player — especially a forward — can go from getting drafted to making a significant impact.

True, patience is required when developing prospects. You don’t want to rush them. There’s nothing wrong with learning the game in the AHL. But at the same time, there has to be a sense of urgency in getting prospects ready for the NHL so they can enjoy as many productive seasons as possible, before their peak years (at a relatively low cap hit) are over.

Hence, all the talk surrounding 20-year-old Jonathan Drouin. While it’s not like the Lightning should be hitting the panic button that he hasn’t yet gained the trust of his coach, it’s not unfair to wonder if he’s fallen a bit behind in his development.

In a related story, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan knows “the next three or four years is the window” in Washington. Because, where will Ovechkin’s game be after that? Where will Nicklas Backstrom’s? The Caps have an opportunity over the next few years to get production from both their veterans and their youth. That’s the sweet spot every GM aims for. And those sweet spots don’t last long.

For Ducks, Gibson’s injury might’ve been blessing in disguise

7 Comments

Prior to tonight’s Game 2 against Chicago, Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau had some interesting remarks about Frederik Andersen’s emergence in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Fortunately for us, or unfortunately, [John Gibson] got hurt in early April and Freddie ran with it a little bit,” Boudreau explained. “He’s gotten better and better and better.

“I think it’s taken the worry out of Freddie’s game and it’s taken the worry from us about him being able to handle playoff pressure.”

Gibson, the club’s 21-year-old goalie of the future, got hurt while battling for Anaheim’s playoff starting gig, and his injury all but took the decision out of Boudreau’s hands — which, hindsight being 20/20, could’ve been the best thing that happened to the Ducks.

Why? Well, the “worry” in Andersen’s game, as alluded to above, was partly due to Boudreau’s (ahem) colorful dealings with his goalies.

Like last spring, for example, when Anaheim became one of the few teams in NHL history to start three different netminders — Gibson, Andersen and Jonas Hiller — in a single postseason. Andersen opened as the playoff starter in Round 1 against Dallas, only to cede the job to Hiller, who eventually closed out the Stars in Game 6.

Hiller then opened Round 2 against the Kings, lasting just two games before Boudreau went back to Andersen — but when the Andersen got hurt, it was Gibson, not Hiller, who took over, as the Ducks eventually fell to L.A. in seven games.

Unsurprisingly, Boudreau’s handling was met with negative reviews. Hiller called the situation “frustrating” after leaving in free agency; in March, Andersen all but assumed he’d be embroiled in yet another “who’s the starter?” saga heading into the playoffs.

“I know we both have to battle for it,” he told the O.C. Register. “I know it’s going to be a long season. You saw it last year. We had three goalies playing due to different circumstances. I know that.”

Boudreau’s penchant for flip-flopping predates his time with the Ducks. In Washington, he yanked Jose Theodore in favor of Semyon Varlamov during the 2009 playoffs; a year later, after vowing “there is no short leash” for Theodore, Boudreau yanked him in favor of Varlamov.

Again.

So it’s easy to see why, this year, Andersen (9-1-0, 1.86 GAA, .930 save percentage) isn’t as mentally taxed. The notion of yanking him in favor of Gibson isn’t constantly looming; in fact, of all the goalies to play at least six playoff games, only Andersen, Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne have been in net for the entirety.

And it seems all that uninterrupted action is paying off.

“I think [Andersen’s] getting more confidence,” Boudreau explained. “He’s played through two rounds now. He’s seen the pressure that comes with it.

“You don’t win unless your goaltender in any playoff series is really good. You need it.”