Ducks Nation can begin healing those aichin’ breakin’ hearts. The Red Wings have gone up two games to one on Chicago. Even more eyebrow raising is these Wings have outscored the Blackhawks 7-2 in the last six periods of play. Something else the Ducks fans have seen before, Chicago captain, Messier and Selke  Trophy finalist Jonathon Toews has been held scoreless in the series first three games.

Like Corey Perry experienced, Toews is getting his chances. It’s just that Detroit goaltender Jimmy  Howard is stopping him. Nichlas Kronwall and Jonathon Ericsson are also exacting a physical price on for the scoring opportunities Toews gets.

Once again, the officials are clearly favoring Wings at the expense of the Blackhawks. A review of the hi-lite video from last night shows (1) disallowed goal where a Chicago forward somehow interfered with Howard while not making any contact with the Detroit goalie, (2) very quick whistles favoring Howard, not so quick whistles for the Chicago or Anaheim goaltenders, (3) one-sided penalty calling favoring Detroit at the most critical points during the game.

There’s no argument among reasonable people that the quality of NHL officiating has descended to the unbelievable though. It is time for an independent inquiry. One guy qualified to head it is former Duck Stu Grimson. He’s an attorney, and a  respected former NHL player. Most of all he’s well-known and respected for his ethical conduct in his dealings with others.

I don’t suggest, as others have, a criminal conspiracy. I do believe the officiating is poorly executed because there’s a systemic or institutional bias. As every player knows, some players and coaches are simply better at working refs than others. And yes, working the ref is a talent that is executed strategically and opportunistically. I became well-known in every league I ever played in for the “Who me” expression. In a kids game, while a Ref skated my son to the penalty box, he said, “Tell your Dad to help you with that trip because I can never catch him when he does it.”

Every experienced player has learned that sometimes you have to beat bad officiating as well as the opponent. I’m not blaming the refs for our Ducks loss or the Wings wins. What I’m saying is that officiating has become so obviously bad, something must be done to save the integrity of the NHL product.

  1. ffe155 says:

    It has been painful for me to watch the Wings-Hawks series because it brings to mind what “should have, could have” happened this year.

    Wanted to get your thoughts on the development of next year’s top paid defenseman, Cam Fowler. I have been a big fan of his over the last three seasons, but am beginning to doubt if he going to continue to develop into an all-around player. I hope that I am wrong, but burned in my memory is the image of a passive Cam doing nothing to either move/gain position on Abdelkader, avoid adding to the screening of Hiller, or block Zetterberg’s shot as it rips the twine for the Game Six OT winner.

    I went back and reviewed the 2010 pre-draft scouting reports on Cam and noted that scouts questioned his physicality and lack of a shot. IMO not much has been done to address those deficiencies. I don’t expect him to develop into a physical defenseman, that’s not his game. However, the lack of a NHL caliber shot is a contributor to his declining offensive numbers. 1 PPG and 5 PPA for someone getting 1st PP minutes in 37 regular season games is not acceptable and I will be surprised if Vatanen doesn’t take his place on the PP next year. Just like big league pitchers, NHL teams make adjustments, and it appears that the book on Cam is that he’s not a threat to score from the point. What does your practiced eye see? Is it too much to expect that 3 years of NHL caliber coaching can’t fix/improve his shot?

    • bc says:

      Hey ffe155, how’s things in hockeyland 😉 Chicago’s woulda, shoulda, coulda dreams may soon look like crap on a cracker too.

      Three years is 60% of the 5 year development curve for an NHL D-man. If you count the shortened season he’s actually just passed the half way mark. Long term, I’m a believer in Cam Fowler. Short term he’s up and down like a penny stock.

      Getting Scott Niedermayer on the ice for home practices and participating as a home game coach will help all the younger guys. Nieds would routinely win the physical battles in the low slot because he understood how to leverage his body against bigger men. Not sure where that is in the lesson plans but you bet it will get covered.
      One of the things we learned this year is that Cam doesn’t speak up. Coach saw he seemed to look more comfortable on the left side and asked him about it. It was only then that Cam fessed up. Who knew? Pairing him with the right-handed shooting and passing Ben Lovejoy helped as well. All of our D-men were hampered by our mostly all southpaw blue line.
      The other thing with Cam is that as the PP-QB he is often the first pass option. This is the pass that goalies usually see and get setup to take.
      Lastly, for three years the focus on Cam’s development has been his play without the puck. The focus on his D paid off this year as indicated by advanced stats and plus/minus. Coach Boudreau has always said he believes Cam’s offense will come.

      Don’t take this too far wrong, one goal in 48 games from Cam Fowler isn’t acceptable. It’s not about excuses but hockey reasons for the drought.

      I don’t see any reason to think Cam won’t be a double-digit goal scorer and get up to 45-60 pts. He won’t do it with the big shot like Lubo or Sami Vatanen get theirs. He’ll do it with a precise, well placed shot like his mentor.

      Cam may never be an Erik Karlsson. He will be a more complete hockey player though.

      Three points support Cam’s development. One, he isn’t trying strip an opposition player of the puck turn it back up ice in one smooth move. He’s playing the man first more often and looking for the opportunity to create the loose puck. Second he’s picking his spots as to when to make the rush and join the offense much better. Once he commits to the joining the rush Cam is establishing himself as the rover and slip into shooting lanes or create opportunities that would otherwise not be available. Third, the team is looking for Cam to control the game when he’s out there. We’re seeing some evidence that he’s beginning to control the tempo.

      He’s very much looked at to become a clone of Scott Niedermayer. Over the next two years or 140 -50 games look for Fowler to learn the things Niedermayer can teach and take those lessons while finding his own way to get it done. It’s an uneven process to be sure.

      With Fowler and Vatanen we might not be that far away from icing a 1-2 punch as dynamic as Phoenix’ Ekman-Larsson and Yandle.

  2. czhokej says:

    One thing the Wings (and Babcock) are doing consistently and rigorously is goalie screening. It’s a powerful tool when you want to score. It was working against us, it’s working against the Hawks. Of course there is more to say about Detroit and Mike B. The question is whether we may blame our elimination on officiating. I do not want to go there.
    Fowler: I admire his skating, puck handling, and I still believe that he is going to grow and mature into a great D-man. I looked at his stats from the last year -28 (+-), and 2013 -4. Number of mistakes Cam Fowler made in 2013 went down considerably.
    Look Beauchemin had the best year in his whole career this season at 33 years of age.

    • bc says:

      Jeez cz, you bring up the nut of this series. How would this series have been different if our guys were allowed to move their guys out from in front of the net. Gabby only mentioned it once, because you’re right, nobody likes to whine about the Refs after a loss. According to BB we were warned that we would be called for rough stuff in front of HIller. That’s okay if it were reciprocal but it wasn’t. What the Refs did in effect was to tell Cleary, Franzen and Abdelkader that they could spear, slash, elbow, slew foot, butt end or whatever but if a Duck got aggressive we played a man short. There’s no doubt that the Red Wings benefited from some very fortuitous officiating. Still, in spite of it, we had chances to close them out early and we flat out didn’t get it done. One more friggin’ OT goal and that series is over in six. Still, there’s no shame losing to an eventual Western Conference Finalist. What did U say about the Wings, “That was no 7th seed team.”

      If that was Francois Beauchemin’s career year how much of a slip are we to see from year to year going forward? I think he can play a smarter game. Cut down on some of the mental mistakes that lead to turnovers. He’s cut down on his turnovers, as has Ryan Getzlaf, but there’s still room for improvement.

      Once again cz, my focus for next year remains on the blue line. Can Beauchemin maintain that level of play? Will Souray again fade as the season wears on? Cam Fowler took significant strides forward but wasn’t rewarded offensively for all of his good work. Do we bring back Toni Lydman? Can we fit him into the cap? What are the lasting effects of his concussion? He sometimes fights the puck but Bryan Allen will be sorely missed if we move him. Especially if we don’t a get a full season out of Sheldon Souray. Ben Lovejoy is UFA and will be looking for a raise. He’s our only right-handed shot from the blue line. Luca Sbisa looks like he’s missing something between the ears. If he remains a Duck we need Luca to fish or cut bait. Watching the game just ain’t workin’.

      Up and comers include Sami Vatanen. He formed an interesting pairing with Souray. The two just might have that complimentary skill set and communication where each benefits from the other. Hampus Lindholm got his bell rung early, recovered and showed poise beyond his years during his rookie year in Norfolk. Mat Clark has used up his ELC seeing only two games in the NHL during that time. Some had high hopes for Clark but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen for him with our Ducks.

      Three stay@home UFA’s who might be on Bob Murray’s short list include Robyn Regehr, Rob Scuderi and Doug Murray. Ironically the former are currently L.A. Kings while Murray spent some 7 years in San Jose.

  3. bbdux93 says:

    Read an article yesterday that seems to indicate Vancouver may need to conduct a “fire sale” to get under cap next season. Are there people on their current roster that could help us – excluding Longo of course.

    • bc says:

      We don’t have cap room for the big names that have been rumored without an overhaul of our own. GM Bob Murray was pretty disappointed at the defeat the Detroit Red Wings. Take his talk about, “This won’t be the same team next year” as just so much blowing off steam.

      Nucks do have two guys Murray has sought in the recent past. Dman Kevin Bieksa and center Derek Roy. Given that we’re in the same division next season Ducks and Nucks are unlikely trade partners. Bieksa is a good top four who can play in all situations. He does visit the IR and takes the occasional bad penalty. A bit overpaid at $4.6m with 3 years to run on his contract. Not sure how we fit him in under our cap and budget restraints. Pass on Derek Roy. Let somebody else overpay. We should also pass on the overpaid under-performing David Booth, Mason Raymond and Keith Ballard. Not at all certain if their depth players would be an improvement over what we have in the barn. Zack Kassian is said to be one taco short of a combination plate but has potential as a budding power forward. Think Patrick Maroon with wheels. My hunch is that both Lovejoy and Steckel get signed. So I don’t think the Nucks depth palyers can help us unless you want to take a flyer on some guys like including Mason Raymond or Chris Higgins. A 25 goal scorer in the 2009-10 season, Raymond is otherwise in the mid-teens. He’s a good player and may just need a change of scenery but what if he’s really just a third line guy who had one great season? Chris Higgins had 3 good years in Montreal followed by stops in Calgary, Florida, New York and now Vancouver. Murray made a serious bid to land Derek Roy but I’m not a fan of the diminutive center. Ryan Kesler is a great player who isn’t built for his rambunctious style. We don’t have the cap space for a Ryan Kesler or Alexandre Burrows.

      One idea making internet chatter rounds is Bobby Ryan for Alexander Edler. He’s been compared to Nicholas Lidstrom. The Big Swede had an off year last season but moving him would cause repercussions to the Nucks from which they may never recover. Edler gave the Nucks a well-publicized “hometown discount” on his last contract negotiation. He did it because of the Nucks promise that he was a key the building block and the Nucks looked like a perennial Cup contender.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s