Duck Soup or Wild Duck Gumbo – Forwards

Posted: 09/14/2010 by bc in Uncategorized

On paper it looks like a spicy gumbo but too often giveaways, injuries, lackadaisical play led to less than hot results…..

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle starts with a twosome. Find two guys who click and work a 3rd guy in to get favorable match ups. The idea is not an RC original. Other coaches of note who take the same approach include Ken Hitchcock and Alain Vigneault.

It’s also an approach that encourages an unusual culture and bonding process among the players. The twosome style means that fully one-quarter of your forward group may not have consistent line mates or a consistent role. Four of twelve forwards can made to feel like a third wheel out there.

In the case of our Ducks, engraving twosome in stone has created one the strangest situations I have seen in more than 50 years of watching, playing, coaching and back to watching hockey.

Besides Bobby Ryan, has there ever been another 2nd overall entry draft pick, Calder finalist in his rookie year, two-time 30+ goal scorer who’s coach can’t seem to find a spot for?

This isn’t smack@Carlyle. I’m just asking a question.

Anybody who thinks Ducks unusual treatment of Bobby Ryan isn’t what’s driving the current contract negotiations probably hasn’t done a whole heck of a lot of negotiating.

For as good a look at our Ducks this side of a professional scouting report. be sure to check out OCR’s Eric Stephens Ducks A-Z. Click here to link the entire series.

In the meantime:

Ryan Getzlaf has shown stretches where is he earns Hart Trophy mentions and included among the Top 5 centers by many. Ryan Getzlaf has been so good that even Steve Yzerman and the Team Canada brain trust considered moving Sid Crosby to wing and installing Getz as Team Canada’s #1 center.

Injuries, inconsistency marked by lackadaisical play and way too many (((DOH))) moments on the ice has me wondering if Ryan Getzlaf’s best hockey is already behind him.

Bobby Ryan is right on schedule for his breakout year. The rule of thumb is 3 years for forwards. The rookie year is about establishing yourself as an NHL hockey player.  The sophomore year is about refinement and growth, working and the finer aspects of the game and losing that “goofy rookie” awe and wonder look. The third year is when NHL forwards start to put it all together. You see the energy of a rookie and the smart play of a near vet.

If Getzlaf has another season like last season, Ryan will surpass him as our Ducks #1 forward.

Corey Perry deserves more credit than he gets for being a good student of the game. He has even shown a willingness to embrace penalty killing, if it will help the team. His career status is beginning to transition from young stud to wily veteran. Pears career year stat wise is still in him and we see it in the any of the next 3 seasons. It goes fast doesn’t it? Perry’s next contract will take him from wily to cagey veteran status.

Teemu Selanne is management’s and Carlyle’s first choice to wear the C. It’s his if he want’s it. The thing is Teemu doesn’t need a letter to lead. He certainly doesn’t need the maintenance chores that go with the Captain’s job. Mostly though Selanne is a free spirit. I suspect what’s holding him back is processing the idea of always saying the right thing and not necessarily what he thinks. Personally I’m glad he didn’t get wish for Paul Kariya. I like the idea of having a Masterton Line. It’s very special.

Saku Koivu is a stone cold pro and certainly one of the best 2nd line centers in the NHL. Go ahead and engrave 16+ goals, 50+ pts, inspirational team player, steps up to every challenge and enjoy the show. Koivu is surprisingly strong in his skates for a smaller guy. His best work is often missed and not fully appreciated until shown on the replay. That’s what happens when you make your living in the dirty area at both ends of the rink.

Joffrey Lupul has denied this blog’s report about his health. He says he will make it back. Great news. Loops is a difference maker who’s presence will get our Ducks closer to the Cup. Post lockout every Cup winning team has done it with 3 scoring lines, including our Ducks.

Jason Blake is our third member of the Masterton Line. The love goes to the player who best exemplifies the intangible qualities perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The Masterton is not the most high-profile of NHL trophies. It just goes to one of a short list of guys players respect the most.

Statistically speaking Blake has had a roller coaster career. This raises the ire of coaches and fans alike. My take on Blake is that he is essentially a Top 9 player whose tenacity has propelled him to produce Top 6 numbers.

Coach Carlyle has said he thinks RW is the best spot for JB. Blake came up as a center and can play all 3 forward positions.

Todd Marchant: What’s not to like about T-bone? Amazing he hasn’t picked up any individual hardware during his 16 NHL seasons. Even if he did, he’d probably trade it in for the Stanley Cup win as part of our Ducks.

Maybe that’s how we’re supposed to think of T-bone. As a great teammate.  His stats paint a false  picture of his value.  He has great wheels. Is positionally sound whether he’s the center, LW or RW. Defensively accountable. One narly badger of pest. Marchant frustrates opposing players in a, “WTH do I have to do to get that guy off my back” kind of way. You can’t teach Marchant’s brand of tenacity and character.

Kyle Chipchura turned out to be a nice surprise. A foot injury forced him to change his game. The 18th pick in the 1st round of the 2004 entry draft, it was an injury that may have robed Kyle of a lot of promise.

Chipper has done a fine job reinventing himself as a solid defensive center. Can he take another step and regain some of the scoring touch he showed in the AHL? 12-15 goals, 20-25 assists seems within his reach and is solid production for a 3rd line center.

Matt Belesky proved to be another pleasant surprise last season. Matt is valuable the same Chris Kunitz was valuable. He’s a hard working industrious winger who can play on line. There’s no secrete magical elixir. Matt keeps it simple, he’s up and down his wing hitting anyting and everything in an opposition jersey. He’s also shown some offensive upside.

It’s one thing to find the back of the net when you’re on a line with Getzlaf and Perry.  Our Ducks need Belesky to show the same finish when he’s out there with Chipchura and Bodie.

Troy Bodie is actually my fave Duck. There’s the innocent surprise when he accidentally scored his first NHL goal. He brings a rambunctious energy to the forecheck which seems infectious. Watch how the next shift seems to always keep it going after Bodie made it look fun.

Troy Bodie is one of the hardest guys on the team. Because of his work ethic you can’t cap his upside potential. Energy line depth forward is the safe call right now. I see something a willingness to work  and a won’t quit on the play attitude that could earn him top 6 minutes somewhere, someday. becoming

Still to come, George Parros, Aaron Voros, Dan Sexton and Ryan Carter.

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