The Anaheim Ducks haven’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 2007. There’s no guarantee that they’ll do any better this year, but they’ve put themselves in a very good position with their 3-0 victory over Calgary Sunday night.
Flames goaltender Karri Ramo made his first career playoff start at the age of 28 and at times it looked like he might steal this game for Calgary. The Ducks bombarded him with 20 shots in the first period, but he turned aside all but one of them.
The exception was Matt Beleskey’s one-timer on a 2-on-1 opportunity:
That proved to be all Anaheim needed because at the other end of the ice, Frederik Andersen was also at the top of his game. The Ducks goaltender kicked out all 29 shots he faced to earn his first career postseason shutout. He has a commanding 1.64 GAA and .942 save percentage in six playoff contests this year.
He’s a big part of the reason that Anaheim swept the Winnipeg Jets in the first round and possesses a 2-0 series lead over Calgary, but he’s far from the only reason. Corey Perry has a league-leading 13 points in the playoffs while Ryan Getzlaf reached the 10-point mark with his two assists tonight.
The Ducks have a long road ahead of them, but they couldn’t have asked for a better start.
Line combinations change frequently in the NHL, and the Anaheim Ducks aren’t shy about trying out different wingers alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Perhaps they’ve found a more permanent fit in Patrick Maroon, though?
It makes sense in many ways.
Most obviously, the 27-year-old matches up with Perry and Getzlaf in providing a physical presence. NHL.com lists him at 231 lbs., pretty hefty for league standards. He’s been productive in the playoffs so far (four points in five games) and appears to be the Ducks dynamic duo’s most frequent linemate.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told NHL.com that it’s all about Maroon becoming more reliable.
“When you’ve only been in this League for a little over two years, the consistency sometimes isn’t there,” Boudreau said. “That’s the only thing that’s plagued him through the course of the year. When he’s on top of his game, he’s a big force for us, but he’s back on that line because he’s been consistent of late and he’s been playing the same way. There’s no letdown in his game.”
“No letdown” is also a good way to describe how the Ducks played against the Flames in Game 1. We’ll see if Maroon & Co. can keep their impressive run going on Sunday night.
Ouch. What else can you say about the 6-1 beating the Anaheim Ducks handed the Calgary Flames in Game 1?
When the Ducks chased Jonas Hiller in the second period, some may have held out hope that it would light another fire under the Cinderella Flames. Instead, it became clear that this wasn’t all on him, as Karri Ramo let up just as many goals.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were like men among boys in this one, with the Ducks’ dynamic duo grabbing four points each (two goals and two assists for Perry, one goal and three helpers for Getzlaf). The Ducks thoroughly dismantled the Flames to the point that it felt like Anaheim could score at will on Thursday.
Frederik Andersen made some key early saves against the Flames. He likely only regrets missing out on a shutout.
If both Flames goalies struggling and a total embarrassment doesn’t scream “worst-case scenario” enough, Calgary even suffered some injuries in this one. The most worrisome loss is Jiri Hudler, their regular season scoring leader (although they may miss Michael Ferland against the big, mean Ducks as well).
Johnny Gaudreau also didn’t see any shifts in the third period. That could very well be a coach’s decision, but he did take a rough-looking cross-check to the back. Either way, it’s a pretty terrible night for the often-sensational line of Gaudreau, Hudler and Sean Monahan.
The Flames need to search long and hard for positives beyond “it’s just one game” and the continued scoring success of Sam Bennett (who scored Calgary’s lone goal). Perhaps “we’ve been in trying positions before” will work, though.
That said, if Game 1 is any indication, this could be an ugly fall for one of the league’s genuine surprise stories.
It also might be a sign that the Ducks are very deserving of the West’s top seed …
From the Associated Press:
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t believe Winnipeg Jets fans were being “sexist in the slightest” by comparing Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry to pop singer Katy Perry.
Bettman likens the chants to goalies being called “sieves.” The commissioner was in Winnipeg on Monday for the chants during Game 3 of the first-round playoff series.
Predictably, Bettman’s remarks have ignited a media firestorm, with Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski going so far as to call them “rage-inducing.”
The Wall Street Journal has a more detailed breakdown of the exchange between Bettman and reporters.
Frankly, we wish the commissioner had just acknowledged how the chant could be seen as sexist and how some people might have been put off by it, even if it wasn’t the worst thing to have ever been chanted at a hockey game.
Following Wednesday’s 6-1 whipping of Minnesota in Game 4 of their opening round series, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock had a telling quote:
“This is our game. It’s not our best game. We can play a lot better than we played today. We’ve still got things we’ve got to work on, but this is our game.
“We’re going to play this game and if it’s good enough, we’re going to put it out there, and if we win with it, great. If we don’t win with it, so be it. But this is our game.”
If Wednesday was truly indicative of the way the Blues want to play, might want to keep an eye on what Kevin Shattenkirk does moving forward.
Why? Well, Shattenkirk assisted on three of St. Louis’ six goals last night, continuing a theme that’s been present throughout this series; all told, he’s recorded helpers on seven of the Blues’ 12 goals and is currently tied with Anaheim’s Corey Perry for the playoff scoring lead.
Shattenkirk is also the first St. Louis blueliner to have six assists in a series since Hall of Famer Al MacInnis did it in 16 years ago.
Part of Shattenkirk’s Game 4 outburst came from a subtle move by Hitchcock. Hitch moved the 26-year-old back onto a defensive pairing with Carl Gunnarsson and the two fared pretty well, emerging with solid possession metrics (while allowing Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo to reunite as a pairing, which was also a boon for the Blues.)
While Shattenkirk was quick to deflect praise onto his teammates following the win, his comments said plenty about the Blues’ top talent coming through in a crucial moment.
“Our best players played well. Our whole lineup played well I think,” Shattenkirk said. “We got something from everyone tonight.”