Posts Tagged ‘Ben Lovejoy’

Ducks dominated the first and faded in the second and third. You can credit Quick for stealing one. You can also blame our Ducks for failing to finish on numerous scoring opportunities. As usual the truth is a little bit of both but I lean toward the latter. One goal is just not enough to win most games.

Both goalies appear well adapted to the smaller nets.

Getzlaf went 12-8 on FO’s. Rakell finished 7-7 after starting the game 2-6. Bonino went a woeful 6-17; Winnick 3-5. Getz did benefit by having Flash on RW, who is quick to the puck on draws.

Penner had a couple-few good moments but was otherwise invisible out there. He might be miscast at LW. He had two great years stat wise in Edmonton, playing mostly center.

Ben Lovejoy earned a 3-year contract based on his performance in the shortened season. Tonight he looked like the guy the Penguins gave up on and with good reason. Kings isolated on him and took full advantage.

Cam Fowler had a couple of chances but seemed to shooting into Quick. He did this last season as well. Cam just isn’t finding the twine yet. Most natural goal scorers see net and hit the spot.

After building a 3-1 preseason record, our Ducks have lost 2 in a row and can only limp into the season with a mediocre 4-3 or 3-4 record. To paraphrase the Righteous Bros., our Ducks have lost that winning feeling, now it’s gone, gone, gone. They can earn it back but it’s uphill now.

 

Sheldon Souray underwent wrist surgery on July 25th to repair a torn ligament he injured during a workout. His recovery is expected to last another 3-5 months. The earliest Souray is expected back would be around U.S Thanksgiving through post-Christmas.

Ducks kept the news under wraps so as not to be pressured during trades or UFA negotiations. GM Bob Murray’s recent comments that he was intentionally keeping D spots open may have also been a negotiating gambit.

Mark Fistric is a first round 2004 draft pick of the Dallas Stars. Last season he was traded to Edmonton for a 3rd round pick. The 6’2″ 233# 27-year-old Fistric has scored 3-26=29 points with a +26 rating and 252 penalty minutes (PIM) in 282 career NHL games with the Stars and Oilers.

Fistric will do what is asked of him. Drop gloves, block shots. He’ll earn respect from teammates. Fans will be hard on him because he’s slow and beat by speedy forwards. If he’s spot played, used in a shut down role against guys he can skate with; Mark Fistric can be very effective.

Fistric is signed for one year at $900,000.

Ducks are expected to move Souray’s $3.3M cap hit to the LTIR, a move will free up cap space temporarily. Now we know why Bob Murray was so emphatic about having enough cap room to sign Teemu.

With Beauchemin coming off knee surgery and tentative to open the season, Souray out and the expected retirement of Toni Lydman our Ducks suddenly have serious questions on the blue line.

Ducks could start the season without almost half of the top seven defenders who finished last season. Cam Fowler, Ben Lovejoy, Bryan Allen and Luca Sbisa are the returnees. Fowler and Lovejoy are the only legit top four defenders in the group. The jury could still be out on Lovejoy. Allen is a stay@home specialist who can log big minutes. Last season, Coach was still spot playing Sbisa in order to protect him during his 4th season in the NHL. Allen was also an occasional healthy scratch.

Ducks also have the newly signed Fistric, Sami Vatanen, Mat Clark, Hampus Lindholm and Kyle Cumiskey  who will compete for those 5th, 6th and 7th D spots on the roster.

We’ll need everyone to step up. The good news is that we still have our best defensive pairing, Hiller & Fasth between the pipes.

Update: Ben Lovejoy has signed a 3 year contract with our Ducks. L.A. Times Helene Elliott and OCR reporter Eric Stephens are reporting it to be a $3.3m contract. Many had him leaving while this blog only reported that the sides were still talking. Another example that you can trust this blog to keep the facts from getting in the way of speculation.

Holy cats this scrunched season has been difficult on this blogger. Can’t thank yougetwhatyouputin enough for his help during the season. No sooner do we come down from the SCF and wham we head straight into Entry Draft weekend.

The Gossip Girls are having their fun. Generating site hit stats with unfounded rumors and speculation that our Ducks are about to trade Bobby Ryan and/or Jonas Hiller.

In news you can take to the bank, OCR’s Eric Stephens is reporting that our Ducks don’t intend to use any compliance buyouts this summer. From other sources I’ve picked up that Murph is presently negotiating with Saku Koivu on a one year contract. He’s talked with Ben Lovejoy’s agent but there’s nothing to report as of this posting. Toni Lydman has probably played his last game in a Ducks uni. Our Ducks will wait for Teemu’s decision but there’s a soft deadline of July 5, the day pending UFA’s become available.

With compliance buyouts already making Danny Briere and Vinny Lecavalier available Ducks are forced to pass on those opportunities due to lack of cap space. Ducks are most likely to look to their young, Sami  Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm to win jobs on the blue line. Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri, Peter Holland and Devante Dmith-Pelly to firmly establish themselves on the Ducks roster.

As to the draft, our Ducks pick 26th in the first round followed by the 45th, 87th, 147th and the 177th pick in subsequent rounds. Our Ducks will not be picking in the fourth or seventh round. The second round pick at 45th overall is the NY Islanders pick and our part of the Lubomir Visnovsky trade.

It is highly likely that all of our picks in this draft will play in the AHL, Major Junior A, NCAA or in of the European elite leagues next season. It is highly unlikely a pick in this Entry Draft will make the NHL coming out of camp. As such, I’ll wait to see who we pick rather than burn bandwidth on kids who will be a couple-3 years away from getting their mail C/O the Honda Center.

Hockey News’ fantasy reporter Daryl Dobbs published his off season look at our Ducks. Our backchecking with follows in intalics.

Pending UFAs – Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, David Steckel, Matthew Lombardi, Radek Dvorak, Toni Lydman, Jordan Hendry, Ben Lovejoy, Nate Guenin.

Pending RFAs – Harry Zolnierczyk, Matt Beleskey, Kyle Palmieri, Mat Clark

Of the above David Steckel, Ben Lovejoy, Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri are expected to be retained. Our cap challenged Ducks will have to make a couple of major moves in order to bring back Teemu Selanne and/or Saku Koivu. Even if the Finn Twins signed heavily discounted contracts.
Mat Clark could be held over but he failed to break into the NHL during his EL contract. He might be a late bloomer or he could be semipro grade.

Looking to add – Selanne had 13 points in his last 42 games (combined regular season and playoffs). His ice time dwindled as the season wore on and if he decides to return for another season I will be surprised. The Ducks need a second-line right-winger. Assuming Kyle Palmieri has found a home on the Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf line, Bobby Ryan and Emerson Etem (who were only tried on a line together in a couple of games) will need a right-winger.

Dobb’s sticks with the safe assumption that top six jobs are Palmieri’s and Etem’s to lose. That’s how it looks going into camp. Unless Palmnieri has a breakthrough season, expect Coach to continue to spot play Matt Beleskey on the top line, especially when he wants a more physical presence. Emerson Etem is Teemu’s heir apparent.

Ready for full time – Etem played 30 of the last 31 games of the regular season, plus all seven playoff games. Consider him a full-timer with a role that is almost certain to expand. As a result, expect his 0.26 points-per-game average to increase in 2013-14.

Sami Vatanen is a dynamic offensive defenseman who is ready to make the jump full time now that he’s played the North American game for a full season. With 45 points in 62 American League games, plus another two points for Anaheim, he’s clearly adapted well and makes for a must-own in keeper leagues.

Center Peter Holland is ready for a third-line role, though he may be more of a mid-season addition as opposed to breaking camp with the team. Short-term he holds little value, but his long-term outlook as a second-line center is pretty good.

Hulking winger Patrick Maroon is also on the cusp of making the jump. He has potential for 60-plus points, but not for a few years – and only if he’s brought along accordingly. Historically, his production at different levels has taken a couple of years to get rolling and the NHL will be no exception.

Next season looks to similar to this season in that young guys coming up will be asked to replace and improve on veterans moving out. Teemu is already forever remembered but he may not be missed if Bobby Ryan bounces back from an off year and Etem and Palmieri breakthrough.

Adding Sami Vatanen and his right-handed shot will change the zeitgeist of our Ducks blue line. If Dobbs is right that Vatanen produces 30 Points , he’ll bring needed support to our only other genuine puck moving D-man Cam Fowler.

Next season will no different from last season in that we’ll be looking for young guys to establish themselves as bonafide NHL players. Peter Holland and Patrick Maroon don’t have to be anymore than consistent depth forwards. If they can’t though, the GM  will again be bargain shopping for vets like Matthew Lombardi and Radek Dvorak.

Fantasy Outlook: A good team that has a little bit of everything and ample depth in every position. Goaltending is especially strong with Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller battling it out for No. 1, with Frederik Andersen also impressing – and John Gibson on the way. If Cam Fowler can take a step forward offensively and Vatanen has a 30-point rookie season, the Ducks should be competitive once again. There are no superstars on the way, but their pipeline is a good one that promises to produce a steady flow of NHL players in all positions. Coach Bruce Boudreau has opened things up for the Ducks and the team finished seventh in goals scored – a trend that should continue.

Pressed against the salary cap in 2013-14 as things stand now, the Ducks may have to trade Bobby Ryan and bring in a cheaper option. How that goes down will have huge waves in fantasy hockey. Fantasy Grade: B- (last year was C-)

Looks like another summer of stupidity when trading Bobby Ryan is the auto-reflex solution to every problem. We already have to replace 35-40 goals lost to the expected retirements of  Selanne and Koivu. While Palmieri and Etem look to be good bets, neither is a certainty.
After losing 35-40 goals, conventional mainstream media wisdom wants us to find a cheap 30 goal scorer to replace Bobby Ryan? Maybe now you get a sense to why I roll my eyes at the notion.
At least they’ve stopped with the trading Jonas Hiller nonsense.
There are other solutions, including but not limited to trading Cogliano and Sbisa. This is likely if DSP takes a step or two forward after his step backward last season and Hampus Lindholm shows any kind of ability to go with his high Hockey IQ.
Another option would be to exercise a compliance buyout of slow-footed Sheldon Souray and pickup a lower cost stay@homer like pending UFA Doug Murray. If you believe Sami Vatanen is 30 points in the bank, we keep the snarl in a Murray and improve on Souray’s offense.

Projected depth chart:

Kyle Palmieri – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan – Nick Bonino – Emerson Etem
Daniel Winnick – David Steckel – Matt Beleskey
Patrick Maroon – Peter Holland – Devante Smith-Pelly

Francois Beauchemin – Ben Lovejoy
Cam Fowler – Sami Vatanen
Bryan Allen – Douglas Murray/Hampus Lindholm

Jonas Hiller – Viktor Fasth

Fantasy Grade: B+

Wings won because of their foot speed and ability to get to the loose pucks. They got to the loose pucks, took control and won. We had plenty of opportunities to put them away and we just didn’t finish.

Yes we missed Toni Lydman but one guy isn’t the reason you lose a series. We lost because we didn’t put them away sooner. The longer the series went their confidence went up and we seemed frozen in time and space. We had no response. Detroit elevated their game and we didn’t. As a team we didn’t have it to elevate.

One look at the plus/minus screams foot speed on the blue line is a serous issue. Beauchemin, Souray and Sbisa our 3 weakest skaters were each minus-2 on the series. Our better skaters, Fowler (3), Lovejoy (4), Allen (1) and Lydman (1) were each on the plus side.

I really don’t want to wade deep into the weeds but essentially the Wings won because we couldn’t skate with them. Everything else, their puck possession, passing and positioning, came off their skating and ability to win faceoffs and be first on those precious loose pucks.

One of the things I didn’t notice until Game 7 was how Detroit was beating us in the low slot.  They were getting two guys down low. One guy positioned on the top of the crease to screen Hiller. A second was roaming 3-6 feet out and picking up those loose pucks and rebounds.

Many unknowingly and incorrectly blame Hiller for those rebounds but that is not how hockey is taught or played at elite levels. The goalie is responsible for making the first save. It’s the job of the skaters to either get on the rebound or tie up the opposition so that they don’t get second and third shots. The only bad goal in tonight’s game was Filppula’s.

One thing our Ducks gave us this year is hope. For the first time since the Pronger trade and the retirement of Scot Niedermayer our Ducks appear to be getting better instead of worse.

The immediate future looks very bright. Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri are obviously keepers. Pending UFA’s Ben Lovejoy and Dave Steckel will probably be resigned. Steckel could join Winnick and Cogliano on the checking line. Nick Bonino won himself a center spot this season. Rickard Rakell and Peter Holland will compete for the other spot.

Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan can be expected to bounce back from off years and poor playoff performances.

There are only three, maybe four roster changes I see going into next season.

Luca Sbisa will be challenged to keep his spot by Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm. Luca has four of the five skills necessary to play the game at the NHL level. His ability to read, pickup or see a play developing and properly react to it is questionable.

Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu represent difficult decisions because both could be tempted to return for the Olympics. Though it isn’t at all certain that either could win and hold their Ducks job against the up and coming kids next season. I’d much rather see each of them move on their own terms rather than be pushed out.

Sheldon Souray’s lack of foot speed became exposed as the season wore on and certainly in the playoffs. He could be, actually should be, bought out. He’s another guy who I have too much respect for to watch get pushed aside. Watching Rob Niedermayer get the hook and be told he couldn’t play anymore was sad. It’s understandable that some guys just won’t come off the ice until you shoot ’em and drag ’em off. I just think it’s sad to pull the trigger.

So I’d much rather see Teemu, Saku and Sheldon leave now before younger guys push them out.

Ducks next job is cleaning out their lockers and exit interviews. It was a tough year for a few players. There will no doubt be some retirements and maybe a buyout over the summer. Our next task is preparing for the draft where our Ducks will 22nd overall. Definitely not high enough to snag a player likely to help immediately.

One goal and just that quick our Ducks move from the hockey season to the financial season. Our attention turns from the ice to the front office.

For me, I’ll share with you on this thread before taking some time off.

For the second consecutive game our Ducks failed to protect leads in the third period. Tonight we failed to protect two third period leads. It’s the first sign of adversity our Ducks have been challenged by this season.

Ducks drew first blood at 10:12 of the first period when Matt Beleskey scored on a twisted wrister from the top of the slot.

Antoine Vermette answered fifty-nine seconds into the second. Six and a half minutes later Keith Yandle blasted one past Hiller to put the Coyotes up 2-1. Phoenix continued to dominate the period but somehow failed to build on their lead.

Suddenly, Ryan Getzlaf, who is playing his best hockey since that 26 game stretch and playoff run back in 2009, got to a Corey Perry chip in and fired one past Smith to tie the game.

Right then and there Ducks color-man Brian Hayward calls the goal a momentum changer. a tad premature but Hazy might be telegraphing exactly what is wrong with our Ducks right now.

Corey Perry got the first go ahead goal of the third at 1:56 on a tip in of a Ryan Getzlaf feed. Cam Fowler, who is showing some great reads and decisions on when to join the rush earned the secondary assist on the play.

Just 11 seconds later Ben Lovejoy got caught flat-footed at the blue line and gave up a Doan/Chipchura 2 on 1. Doan buried it behind Hiller for the tie.

Bobby Ryan  put us up with his first goal in 8 games. Once again the Coyotes tied it up just 1:18 later. Our Ducks, bottled up in their zone, turned it over to Chipchura who got it back to Michael Stone at the right point. Stone slapped one through Hiller. The scorekeepers gave it to Stone, then said Matthew Lombardi had tipped it then reversed again giving the goal back to Stone.

Ducks lost two in a row for the time this season. True they got the sister-kisser points for the regulation tie but we have to come expect more from a team off to its best start in franchise history. Such is the impact of rising expectations.

Tonight it looked like we were still congratulating ourselves for taking the lead long after the refs dropped the puck to start the next play. Brian Hayward knows better than to call declare a goal a momentum changer. Momentum change is something you note after the fact, not in the moment.

Turned out Hazy’s foresight was spot on though. Perry put us up 3-2 just inside the third period. And that’s when we went to sleep and let the ‘Yotes tie it back up. Ben Lovejoy may have bought himself a ticket to Norfolk tonight.

And again, we let down after Bobby Ryan’s go ahead goal when a Corey Perry turnover led to the second tying goal of the third period.

Maybe it’s part fatigue. Maybe it’s a result of early success. maybe it’s in part the inability to play solid hockey for 60 minutes. Whatever the cause or reason our Ducks are facing their first adversity of the season. The inability on two consecutive nights to protect a lead in the third period of a hockey game.

It looks like we anticipated outcomes before we actually earned it.

From personal experience I will share that when this happens, even during the game, the player or player’s know it. You have to re-focus. Maybe eat a little humble pie and talking yourself down back into the moment. It’s born of over thinking and expecting the desired outcome forgetting that you first have to earn each and every point.

And yeah, sometimes the Refs drop the puck before you’re quite ready.And yeah, getting ready is the player’s responsibility.

Jonas Hiller accepted responsibility for his part. “Two or three of the goals were bad goals and you want to get them back,” Hiller said. “These things find a way through even though you think you’re there and playing big.”

While our goaltending was troubling in Phoenix, the Coyotes also exposed some slow feet along our blue line. It was the combination that led to the usually low scoring Coyotes offensive surge.

This is the adversity that can make or break a hockey team.

Did anybody else miss Phil Hulett call “AnaheimDucksGoaaaaaaaaaal” while the guys were on the road? We marvel at the stamina of our Ducks grinding out 6 games in 11 days. Quietly and without as much fanfare, Hulett leaves the Honda Center PA booth, catches a few zzzz’s and awakes the Southland at 5:00AM from the broadcast studio at KFWB. The guy is a stone cold pro.

Our Ducks started out flat-footed against a spirited effort by the game Blue Jackets. It’s a good thing Jonas Hiller got to work on time because the shots were 9-0 Columbus at the 7:05 mark of the first period.

A hockey newbie could see Jonas was fighting the puck a bit in his first start in ten days. Like Hulett, Hilly looked like a another unassuming pro just doing his job. He battled through, relied on his teammates when a less seasoned goalie might have tried to do too much. And as Coach Boudreau said after the game, “He made saves that are impossible to make.”

Blue Jackets were first on the scoreboard when former Duck Vinnie Prospal got in behind the D to Hiller’s glove side. Prospal stopped a puck with his head that rebounded off his glove and he somehow managed to tip in off his stick. It’s a new on me. I’ve never seen a tic tac toe goal scored by just one guy.

Peter Holland got it back for his first of the year. It was a PPG that started when Ben Lovejoy pickpocketed the puck off a Blue Jacket, head-manned the Bobby Ryan who hit Holland leaping out of the sin bin. The rookie went in alone on Bobrovsky and wristed one through the Blue Jackets goaltender.

And then, just 21 seconds later Ryan Getzlaf would battle not one but two Blue Jackets in succession along the boards. Getzy came out with the puck and executed a crisp give and go with Matt Beleskey who well was positioned above the hash marks. When Getzlaf got it back he fought off Blue Jacket protecting the puck with his body, then another and finally using that long reach deposited the biscuit in the Columbus.

It’s a goal that defines Ryan Getzlaf as much that goal two seasons ago in Nashville defined the talent of Bobby Ryan.

Corey Perry scored the winner in typical Corey Perry fashion. He’s battling in the low slot, slashed, gashed, bashed and trashed, finds the puck, elects to shoot rather than pass across the crease and as puck goes into the net Perry is dumped head over heels onto his butt against the end boards. As Perry gets to his feet, shaking off the effects of the abuse, ever-present infectious Perry grin. Remember the kid on your block who you could beat on all day long and he’d just laugh at ya and frustrate ya? Meet Corey Perry.

Our Ducks will be taking a day or two off before heading back to work Thursday. I’m going to join them. Enjoy the break.