Los Angeles Hockey: Matt Beleskey

Ducks sticking with Gibson for Game 5

May, 11, 2014
May 11

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- After starting three different goalies in three straight games, Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau decided to alleviate any suspense on Sunday.

The kid stays in, obviously, after a 28-save shutout.

"Well, I kind of believe that it's not a difficult decision," Boudreau said with a smile. "I'm not going to try to play that game. He came in. He played great. He's going to go again."

Boudreau said he told John Gibson on Friday night that he was the starter for Game 4, and told a disappointed Jonas Hiller the news on Saturday morning.

While his face could not hide his disappointment Sunday, to Hiller’s credit he said he was willing to accept whatever is good for the team, that he just wants to be supportive of his teammates.

Prodded Sunday to find out why he made the decision to start a rookie without NHL playoff experience, Boudreau was asked about playing in the AHL in the mid-1980s when his club was upset by a 19-year-old goalie in the playoffs.

"We lost to Patrick Roy that year," Boudreau said. "And then we've also done the same thing coming out of juniors to Carey Price in the American League (2007 AHL playoffs), where he beat us in the championship. You know young kids can do it. They just come up and they're ready. And those two that I just mentioned obviously were very special goalies. I think, and I don't want to hype him too much, this is what they've been talking about him for the last three years."

The Price-Gibson comparisons have already begun, in large part because both are so calm and cool.

"Nothing seems to bother him and that was the thing I first saw with Carey Price," Boudreau said. "In that [AHL] series, you couldn't faze him. He'd just move and make all the saves look easy. Consequently he's gone on to be one of the best."

Ducks' injuries

Boudreau said center Mathieu Perreault (lower-body injury) would be a game-time decision Monday night. But Boudreau said injured winger Matt Beleskey and injured goalie Frederik Andersen would sit. Both players suffered lower-body injuries in Game 3 and did not play in Game 4.

Kings look to rebound

Meanwhile, out at the Kings' training facility in El Segundo on Sunday, a veteran team looked to recharge after dropping two straight.

Head coach Darryl Sutter had some fun, too.

"Yeah, I’m not rattled. I’m just thankful I’m alive today. I’m fortunate to pull through after the devastating loss [Saturday] night," Sutter said before pulling a M.A.S.H. reference out of his repertoire. "Radar and Hawkeye had to get me up to come here today."

Point taken. This is a team that has seen it all, won a Cup two years ago, went to the conference finals last year and erased a 3-0 series deficit to San Jose in the first round this year.

Losing two straight to rival Anaheim is not going to rattle this playoff-savvy group.

"It’s the best-of-three. Nothing wrong with that," veteran center Jarret Stoll told reporters Sunday. "They’re a great team. They had the best record in the West, No. 1 seed, whatever they were. So they’re a good team. We know that. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We can say that. It’s a series now. A good, positive day today. We came in and the boys were in good spirits. Get ready to win a road game."

Kings/Ducks: This meeting has some issues

December, 5, 2011

Kings (13-9-4, 30 points) vs. Ducks (7-14-5, 19 points) at Honda Center, 7 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Scoreless-fest? – The Kings are struggling to score more than two goals a game, and the Ducks can’t seem to keep the puck out of their net. Something has to give. At a time when both teams should be taking advantage of the lack of NBA games on the schedule, neither is delivering a particularly entertaining product. The Ducks came into the week tied with the Kings for 28th in the league in scoring, but have actually improved in that department lately. It's the Kings that have taken a step back, scoring two goals or fewer in five straight. What separates the teams in the standings are goals against. The Kings are fourth in the league, the Ducks are 26th.

2. Injury update – The Kings will need to find a way to get through another game without leading goal scorer Mike Richards and top shutdown defenseman Willie Mitchell. Richards went on injured reserve after taking a shoulder to the chin from Florida winger Sean Bergenheim on Thursday. Mitchell has a slight groin strain and is listed as day-to-day, but won’t play against the Ducks. More than ever, it’s imperative that other players step up. Dustin Penner scored his first goal in 28 games Saturday in a 2-1 loss against visiting Montreal, Justin Williams hasn’t scored in the last 17.

3. Line dancing – Kings coach Terry Murray reunited the No. 1 line of Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne and Williams during practice Monday, dropping Dustin Brown back to left wing on the second line and Penner to left wing on the third. The Ducks, meanwhile, broke up their No. 1 line, moving Matt Beleskey up with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Bobby Ryan was sent to the second line with Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, hired last week to try and save the team from its downward spiral, seemed to blur the lines after a 5-3 loss Sunday night against Minnesota, saying, “The first line, if you want to call Getzlaf's line the first line, didn't seem like they were generating anything.” Ouch.

4. Doughty’s slow go – Murray didn’t beat around the bush when asked to evaluate the recent performances of young defensemen Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson. He said the duo needs to get more involved offensively and not be so hesitant to shoot. Doughty is under even more pressure to perform after missing training camp while his representatives squeezed the Kings into offering the richest contract on the team. Doughty has two goals and six assists in 21 games. It’s interesting to note, Doughty had one goal and six assists through 21 games last season, then blew up for three goals and 15 assists over the next 21.

5. Fighting words – Boudreau was once part of the Kings organization, coaching their AHL affiliate in Manchester from 2001-2005. Therefore, he’s no stranger to the I-5 rivalry that’s developed between the clubs. He summed it up by saying this of the impending match up: “I think there’s going to be a lot of hatred on both sides. When I was part of the Kings organization, they certainly didn’t like the Ducks. So now that I’m here, I certainly don’t like the Kings.” Enough said.

Ducks: Season Preview (Act II)

October, 2, 2011
Each day heading into their season openers Oct. 7 in Europe, ESPNLosAngeles will take a closer look at the Ducks and Kings. Where are their strengths, their weaknesses? Which star player will continue to shine, and which might struggle to maintain their previous levels? We put the Ducks back under the microscope today and attempt to answer a few key questions regarding their forwards.

The forward with the most to prove this season? Still just 24 years of age, it would seem Andrew Cogliano has plenty of upside left in his career. A first-round draft pick of the Oilers six years ago, Cogliano never lived up to expectations in Edmonton, but then again it must be difficult to get excited when you’re the underdog every game. Cogliano was awarded a fresh start when he was traded to the Ducks over the summer for a second-round pick in 2013, then quickly signed to a three-year deal. Now it’s up to him to show if the change to a winning environment will be enough to kick start his career. One of the speediest skaters on the Ducks, Cogliano has been etched in as the team's third-line center. He won’t have the pressure to produce points on a nightly basis, but should still have enough talent around him to chip away at opposing defenses. If he doesn't produce at a higher level this season, he'll be out of excuses.

The forward with the least to prove? When you win a Stanley Cup title in your second season in the league and the Hart Memorial Trophy as the best player in the NHL in your sixth, what else is there to prove? The scary part is, Corey Perry is just entering the prime of his career. The 26-year old right wing scored a league-high 50 goals last season after not totaling more than 32 in his first five seasons in the NHL. About the only question left is, can he become the second player in the 21st century to score to 60?

(Read full post)

Ducks: Looking ahead to the offseason

April, 27, 2011
As the Ducks tie the bow on an entertaining but somewhat unfulfilled 2010-11 season, they face another summer of the unknown. One area of uncertainty has become an annual ritual in Anaheim’s front office, while the other is stumbling block they’ve never encountered before.

Here’s a closer look at the key areas that need to be addressed in the offseason, and the ones that seem fine the way they are.

Teemu SelanneJeff Gross/Getty ImagesWho knows, right? Teemu Selanne could retire and un-retire three times before the All-Star break.
I. Will he or won’t he?

Teemu Selanne heads off on his summer retreat with another heavy decision on his mind. Selanne will turn 41 on July 3, but was the spriest and most productive player on the Ducks during their six-game loss to Nashville in the Western Conference quarterfinals.

After an 80-point regular season, Selanne scored a career-best six goals during the Nashville series and delivered a flat-on-his back assist late in Game 5 that provided the final roar of the season at Honda Center. He showed plenty of durability during his 19th season in the NHL and, most importantly, said he particularly enjoyed the experience.

Selanne will be an unrestricted free agent July 1 but it’s very doubtful he’d return anywhere else but Anaheim, where he has spent the last six seasons and 11 overall. The Ducks have made it clear they want him back for another year as well.

But just like his play on the ice, oftentimes Selanne doesn’t really know his next move. He just lets his instincts take over.

(Read full post)

Ducks: Teemu Selanne not showing his age, or cards

April, 26, 2011
Two days after they were eliminated by the Predators in Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series in Nashville, the Ducks held their annual exit interviews Tuesday at Honda Center.

Would this be the last for Teemu Selanne?

Of course, when it comes to retirement, Selanne’s decisions tend to come with a grain of salt. He has un-retired more times than George Foreman, and sat on other decisions well into the next season.

This time around, he chose his words carefully in front of the gathered media.

“I'll let you know when I know something,” said Selanne, who will turn 41 on July 3. “I'll just wait and see how I feel. I don't have to rush."

It'd probably be an easier decision if Selanne didn’t have such a fabulous season, particularly down the stretch, lifting the Ducks into the postseason. He tied a franchise playoff record with six goals against Nashville and scored points in every game.

Her had 10 goals and six assists in the final 11 regular-season games, most coming at crucial moments, and finished with 31 goals and 80 points. Selanne will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1, but said he wouldn't play anywhere else but Anaheim.

“I've got to be honest, it was so much fun this year,” he said. “That's all you really ask for.”

His teammates noticed as well.

“I think [Selanne] had too much fun this year not to come back,” said Saku Koivu.

Ducks general manager Boy Murray also addressed the media and didn’t hide his intentions with Selanne.

“He's too good to quit,” he said. “I'll do everything in my power to keep him here.”

In other developments, defenseman Toni Lydman and forward Matt Beleskey are scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery Monday, according to Murray.

Lubomir Visnovsky, who broke a franchise record for goals by a defenseman but was not much of a factor in the playoffs, revealed he has been playing with two injured shoulders that prevented him from picking up his young son. He won’t need surgery, however.

Veteran forward Todd Marchant, who will turn 38 this summer, also said he plans to contemplate his retirement plans after speaking with his family.

Ray Emery talked about his whirlwind season.

After sitting out a full year following hip surgery, Emery was signed as insurance when No. 1 goalkeeper Jonas Hiller began experiencing vertigo-like symptoms following the All-Star break. Emery ended up winning a starting role as Hiller’s symptoms lingered and other back ups struggled. He came back from a groin injury late in the regular season and started the last five playoff games.

He woke up Tuesday to learn he had been nominated as a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

“It's a nice acknowledgment,” he said.

Emery, who will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, said he’d like to return to Anaheim but recognizes the uncertainty with Hiller.

“It’s kind of up in the air, as far as what’s going on here with goaltending,” he said.

Murray called Hiller’s situation one of the big question marks of the offseason.

The other, of course, being Selanne.

Ducks: Game 3 on deck in Nashville

April, 17, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 3

Ducks (1-1) vs. Nashville Predators (1-1) at Bridgestone Arena, 3 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Ryan sits: If scoring goals against one of the league’s best goalkeepers isn’t tough enough, the Ducks will be without their second-leading goal scorer from the regular season for Games 3 and 4 in Nashville. Bobby Ryan was suspended two games by the NHL on Saturday for stomping on the skate of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum with about 3 minutes left in Game 2. Ryan scored two goals in the 5-3 victory and 34 during the regular season.

2. Ruutu back? With the absence of Ryan, the Ducks will likely reinsert Jarrko Ruutu in the lineup. Ruutu has been racking up the penalty minutes of late but not many points. In fact, he hasn’t made the scoring column since tallying an assist Feb. 27 against Colorado. But the Ducks didn’t acquire Ruutu for his scoring touch. He’s purely a fourth-line agitator and he does that well. He just needs to stay out of the penalty box.

3. Top-line replacement? The other big question in response to Ryan’s suspension is, who will replace Ryan on the top line? Brandon McMillan practiced with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on Saturday, so that should be a good indication. McMillan had teamed with Matt Beleskey and Nick Bonino on Friday against the Predators and they had one of the best shifts of the game to set up Ryan's first goal, which gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead in the second period. When you’re dealing with Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, however, it’s always safe to expect the unexpected.

4. Outside the box: This probably goes without saying, but the longer the Ducks can stay out of the penalty box the better off they'll be against the Predators. Anaheim hasn’t been doing a good job of that lately, allowing 20 power plays over the last four regular-season games and 11 through the first two postseason games. The Ducks aren't particularly strong on the penalty kill, finishing 19th in the league during the regular season, and they’ve allowed three power-play goals in the first two playoff games.

5. Dangerous Predator: Nashville is best known for goaltender Pekka Rinne and the defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter but a key player to stop up front is Mike Fisher, who has four points in the first two playoff games. Fisher came over to Nashville in February in a trade with Ottawa. In addition to his scoring touch, Fisher was teammates with Ducks goalie Ray Emery for parts of five seasons in Ottawa, so he should know Emery’s weaknesses better than others.

Third line brings some charm to the Ducks

April, 16, 2011

ANAHEIM — Before the start of the Western Conference quarterfinal series, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle talked about the importance of his role players stepping up against Nashville.

For about 60 seconds Friday night in Game 2 at Honda Center, the third line of Brandon McMillan, Matt Beleskey and Nick Bonino did just that, dominating the Predators in the offensive zone to set up a key goal in the 5-3 victory, tying the series at 1-1.

After cycling the puck and pounding away at Nashville’s top defense pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, the Predators couldn’t get off the ice fast enough to get some fresh bodies in the game.

They didn’t get on quick enough, as Francois Beauchemin passed the puck up to Ryan Getzlaf who was camped out at the blue line. Getzlaf fired a shot at Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne who made the stop, but Bobby Ryan was in position to send the rebound into the net for a 3-1 lead.

It was the first even-strength goal allowed by the Predators in the series and seemed to deflate them less than three minutes after they had cut the deficit to one.

“It was a heck of a shift by three young guys,” Ryan said. “They controlled the pace of the play right through that entire shift. ... They were so tired, five guys had to change. One guy was left out there. It was kind of a freebie for me. I’ll take it.”

McMillan and Beleskey said Carlyle called for his third line when Weber and Suter jumped on the ice.

“We just wanted to wear those guys down so the big guys would have a little more room up there,” Beleskey said. “That’s what we need to do and it looked like it helped them. If we’re cycling and wearing guys down, it’s creating momentum and it’s creating offense for our team. It’s a big part of our game.”

Beleskey is just 22 years old, McMillan is 21 and Bonino will turn 23 next week. Bonino was making his Stanley Cup playoff debut, while Beleskey and McMillan made theirs in Game 1. For Beleskey, his first playoff game wasn’t that memorable, as he committed two penalties in the opening eight minutes, leading to a power-play goal by the Predators in their 4-1 victory.

“We didn’t play them a tremendous amount, but we played them enough that they got a taste of playoff hockey,” Carlyle said. “I thought they did a heck of job for us.”

Ducks: Getzlaf, Ryan give Anaheim 4-1 lead

April, 15, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinal

Game 2

After the 2nd period:

Ducks 4, Nashville Predators 1

The good: First of all, Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky returned at the start of the period after leaving in the first following a collision with teammate Francois Beauchemin. The Ducks gave up a power-play goal to get their lead trimmed to one, but a great shift by the third line of Matt Beleskey, Brandon McMillan and Nick Bonino wore out Nashville and the Ducks caught them on a line change. Beauchemin passed the puck up to Ryan Getzlaf who was standing at the blue line near the wall opposite the benches. He shot the puck at Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne as Bobby Ryan cut to the net. Rinne made the initial save but Ryan pounced on the rebound and put it in the net for a 3-1 lead 7:12 into the period. Getzlaf then got into the act, jumping on a loose puck in front of the Nashville net and firing it past Rinne for a 4-1 lead with 4:06 left. Rinne hasn’t allowed more than four goals in a game since November. Can’t move on without mentioning Ducks goalie Ray Emery, who made his first start since April 6, when he left midway through a 6-2 victory against San Jose with a lower-body injury. Emery has stopped 24 shots, including a handful that were jaw-dropping efforts.

The bad: Ducks enforcer George Parros let his anger get the best of him early in the period after he was taken down by Jerred Smithson in front of the Nashville bench. He went after Smithson, even though it appeared Smithson wanted nothing to do with him. Parros earned a four-minute roughing penalty, while Smithson was given just two minutes, and the Predators promptly scored to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 15 minutes left in the period.

The in between: Looking ahead to the next round, it appears top-seeded Vancouver won’t have any trouble advancing past Chicago in their quarterfinal. The Canucks just went up, 2-0, in the series against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Ducks: Pieces in place for Game 2

April, 15, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 2

Ducks (0-1) vs. Nashville Predators (1-0) at Honda Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Emery is the manRay Emery got the nod to start in goal following the morning skate.'He missed the final two regular season games and did not start the playoff opener due to a lower-body injury. He replaced Dan Ellis early in the third period Wednesday night after Ellis allowed four goals on 24 shots in the 4-1 loss. The last time Emery replaced Ellis and went on to start the next game, he won six in a row. The Ducks could sure use another streak like that.

2. Rush hour – Leading up to Game 1, the Ducks talked a lot about getting traffic in front of the net to screen Pekka Rinne's view as pucks sailed toward him at 120 mph. Turns out, the only goalie they screened was Ellis. Rinne, second in the league during the regular season in save percentage and third in goals-against average, said after the game he had no problem seeing the pucks. Ellis, on the other hand, said three of the goals by Nashville were the result of screens or deflections.

3. Depth decisions – Ducks coach Randy Carlyle might think twice when he pencils in his lineup tonight. He stayed with left wing Matt Beleskey for the opener but Beleskey was whistled for two penalties in the opening eight minutes. The first led to a power play goal by Nashville and a 1-0 lead, which turned out to be the winner. Carlyle could try scrapper Kyle Chipchura, or a more-skilled option in Nick Bonino, who played 26 games for the Ducks this season before he was assigned to the AHL and recalled for the playoffs.

4. Ground Hog’s DayCorey Perry may want to request that the Ducks not host Nashville on a Wednesday night next season. The team’s leading scorer produced similar numbers to a Wednesday night in early January, when Anaheim lost to the visiting Predators by the same 4-1 score. Perry, who led the league with 50 goals this season, finished with no points in Game 1 for just the second time in the last 13 games, four shots on goal and a minus-three rating. In the loss in January, he finished with no points, five shots on goal and a minus-three rating.

5. More injury news– Along with Emery, it appears defenseman Francois Beauchemin is good to go after missing Thursday’s practice with a lower-body ailment that has been nagging him a while, Carlyle said. Beauchemin played his usual minutes in Game 1 but, like most of his teammates, didn’t have an impact. Though he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations he set as a member of the Ducks during their Stanley Cup championship run in 2006-07, his experience in playoff games is a big plus. It was pretty obvious during Wednesday’s game that Anaheim rookie defenseman Cam Fowler was struggling with puck management, which could be the result of the postseason nerves.

Nashville scores first, Perry leaves early

April, 13, 2011
After the 1st period:

Nashville Predators 1, Ducks 0

The good: If there’s an example of how to dominate time of possession in the offensive zone and still get outscored in a period, the Ducks made a highlight video in the first 20 minutes. Anaheim took eight shots on goal, missed the net on seven others and seven shots were blocked. Bottom line, the Ducks couldn’t get anything past Nashville’s standout goalie, Pekka Rinne, who made a highlight-reel save on Teemu Selanne with about nine minutes remaining. Selanne had an open side of the net to shoot into but Rinne slid over and took away the low side. He guessed right and knocked the puck off target. The Predators look as if they're going to sit back and protect the one-goal lead, so it's important for the Ducks to get even soon.

The bad: Ducks leading scorer Corey Perry left the ice in apparent pain with about a minute remaining after getting struck in the right forearm arm by a hard slap shot by teammate Luca Sbisa. The Ducks could ill afford to be without their 50-goal scorer against a defense as stingy as Nashville’s. Hopefully, he was just getting an early start into the locker room. The Predators finished the regular season ranked 26th out of 30 teams in power-play efficiency, but they didn’t have any trouble taking a 1-0 lead with the man advantage. Matt Beleskey went off for the first of his two penalties and Nashville scored just over a minute later when defenseman Shea Weber sent Nashville’s second shot on goal past Anaheim goalkeeper Dan Ellis with 15:47 left in the period.

The in between: The Ducks are forced to go with Ellis for the third straight game because of continued vertigo symptoms by Jonas Hiller and a lower-body injury to Ray Emery, who is serving as the backup. Ellis hasn’t been bad, but the puck has trickled away on a couple saves, leading to some desperate scrambles in front of the net.

Ducks: Gap tightens in West in time for Sharks visit

April, 5, 2011
Ducks (44-30-5, 93 points) vs. San Jose Sharks (47-23-9, 103) at Honda Center, 7 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. One that got away? – The Ducks would sure like another shot at the Stars right about now. They had a chance to clinch a playoff berth Sunday with a regulation victory against Dallas but instead lost 4-3 after a pair of goals were disallowed in the final two minutes. Dallas won again Tuesday against Columbus to pull to within two points of the Ducks and now have three remaining games against non-playoff qualifiers, two against Colorado and one against Minnesota. The Ducks, meanwhile, face a tough game against the Sharks and back-to-back weekend games against the Kings.

2. Payback game – It was just four days earlier the Ducks played in San Jose and lost, 4-2. In the third period of that game, San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray took a run at Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and drove him into the boards. Visnovsky, who had set a franchise record for goals by a defensemen earlier in the game, left with an upper-body injury and did not return. Murray was not penalized for the hit but drew the ire of the Ducks, who likely haven’t forgotten. The Ducks can’t lose their focus and go head-hunting for Murray, however. There’s still a very important game to win.

3. Selanne silenced – Just how hot has Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne been the last few months? Selanne has gone the last two games without a point, the first time he has gone two straight without joining the scoring column since Jan. 18-20. Selanne had a goal disallowed down the stretch Sunday against Dallas, and he didn’t take it too well, avoiding the media following the game for one of the few times in his career. Look for him to bounce back big against the Sharks.

4. Third-line fodder – The Ducks recalled left wing Matt Beleskey from Syracuse on March 25 and he has played in all four games since. Beleskey hasn’t done much, however, going scoreless with a minus-four rating in those games. The Ducks like Beleskey’s bigger body compared to Dan Sexton, but Sexton gives the third line a lot more speed, and he seems a better fit with center Brandon McMillen. Might be time for Beleskey to watch from the press box and give Sexton a turn.

5. Shark feast – The Sharks have been the best team in the NHL since mid-January, owning a 26-4-4 record in that time. They clinched the Pacific Division title Monday with a 6-1 rout against the Kings, but are still in a battle with Detroit for the No. 2 seed and home-ice advantage should San Jose advance past the first round. Of course, the Sharks have won six division titles in the last 10 years but never a Western Conference title, so they can't take anything for granted.