Anaheim Ducks - New Chapter Begins
The start of February brought in changes for the Anaheim Ducks, but these changes were big. I speak, of course, of the goalie change. As everyone knows, Jonas Hiller was signed to a four year extension and as a result, JS Giguere was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. So it was with interest I followed the games on Monday and Tuesday.
February 1, the Ducks were still on the road and played their last game of the stretch against the Florida Panthers. Thanks to Versus, we were only able to listen to the game, but what a game it was. Anaheim shut out the Panthers 3-0. From what I could hear, the team played well and Hiller started off his tenure as #1 goalie in fine fashion. It also sounded like new acquisition, Jason Blake, played a good game, too. I’d just have to wait and see when the team comes home to play the Red Wings. The Ducks radio team had nice tributes to Giguere during both intermissions. That was classy.
February 2 saw JS Giguere play for the first time in a uniform other than Anaheim in about 10 years. This was an emotional trade for the fans of Anaheim; while yes, it is a business, you not only trade the player, you trade the man. Seeing Jiggy in his Ducks mask and pads but Leafs sweater was surreal. I have to say, Jiggy starting in the net and also recording a shutout was awesome. The Leafs beat the Devils 3-0. Trust me, I won’t be reporting on the Leafs very often, but you can’t just erase the fact that Giguere was a franchise man for 10 years here. Congrats to Giguere!!
I was able to see Jason Blake firsthand on February 3 when the Ducks came home to play the Detroit Red Wings. Ok – warm-ups showed him moving well and looking sharp. What would he show when the game started? (side note: it WAS odd not to see Giguere come out for warm-ups. ) It was a pretty good game and I was impressed with Blake. So far. He is fast and can handle the puck. Anaheim won 3-1, extending the home streak to 9. I came away with a distinct feeling from the team: they were settled and confident. I asked other fans and they said they felt the same thing. So, it begs the question: was I right when I argued to people that the goalie “win and you’re in” system was affecting not only the goalies, but the team as well? I’ve said Carlyle was trying to ruin the goalies (a bit melodramatic, but hey!) and it’s logical to say that it would affect the whole team as well.
The next night, the Ducks went up to Los Angeles to take on the Kings in the back end of the back-to-back. Last time in Anaheim the Ducks were schooled in a 4-0 loss. Would it be the same?? I didn’t go to the game, but from what I saw on TV, the Ducks did a decent job. Jason Blake got the first goal (his first as a Duck), which would be the last Ducks goal until the 3rd period. The Kings were up 3-1 when Anaheim got their second wind. They tied it up 4-4 after almost 10 min of play. They were on the verge of a comeback! However, by the time the 60 minutes was up, the Kings rallied and beat Anaheim 6-4. It was much better than the last time the Ducks were at the Staples Center, so I will stay positive about that. Jason Blake – a goal and an assist. OK. I like him. So far.
4 games left before the NINE players from the Ducks head off to the Olympics. So the Ducks now have, I believe, the most players sent to the Olympics. Thursday, D Ryan Whitney was added to the roster for Team USA. I have to ask – can someone please explain – what in the hell am I missing with this player? I really don’t think he’s worth the $4 mil we pay him. Yet, Brian Burke adds him to the roster. I have seen him screw up numerous times and cost us goals. He’s taken penalties at bad times and lost us games. WTH? What am I missing????
Speaking of Brian Burke, I have to send my condolences to the Burke family on the death of their 21 year old son, Brendan. As I have a 21 year old son named Brandon, it was especially eerie for me as a parent. The Burke family is in the collective minds of hockey fans everywhere.
LET’S GO DUCKS!