Los Angeles Hockey: Shea Weber

Kings: Drew Doughty talks heat up

July, 27, 2011
EL SEGUNDO -- Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said he had a 40-minute discussion Tuesday with representatives for defenseman Drew Doughty, a restricted free agent.

Doughty, a Norris Trophy finalist in 2009-10 who took a step back in performance and conditioning last season, is still regarded as a cornerstone for the franchise for years to come.

“It’s safe to say we’re still having dialogue and we’ll keep trying to move forward,” Lombardi said. “We’re still on track.”

Lombardi said his biggest concern was trying to fit Doughty’s contract into the organization’s salary structure. The other is trying to determine just how much Doughty is worth.

Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, a Norris Trophy finalist last season, will have an arbitration hearing Tuesday and that could help set the parameters for Doughty’s contract, though Weber is older and still a year away from free agency.

“Most of the [free agents] who got top dollar, most of them have been forwards.” Lombardi said. “You have this big hole in the market for where defensemen are.”

Ducks: Predators wrap up series with 4-2 victory

April, 24, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 6

Nashville Predators 4, Ducks 2 (Nashville wins series, 4-2)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Predators continued to receive production from a variety of sources Sunday afternoon and the role players were the difference in the series-clinching victory at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

THE STAT: In their sixth trip to the postseason, the Predators won their first playoff series in franchise history.

TURNING POINT: With the score tied, 2-2, early in the third period, Jordin Tootoo drove straight at Ducks goalie Ray Emery, who made the save on the close-range shot, but teammate Andreas Lilja crashed into Emery leaving him unable to defend Nick Spaling’s follow up shot with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game.

HOT: In what could be the final game of his Hall of Fame career,Teemu Selanne scored the first goal of the game and postseason-leading sixth of the playoffs. Ducks forward Saku Koivu won the face off and Selanne recovered, taking the puck behind Nashville’s net. He came out the other side and beat goalie Pekka Rinne between his legs. Selanne, who will turn 41 in July, just missed a chance to tie the score with about 10 minutes remaining when his shot from the slot hit the skate of Nashville defenseman Shea Weber and went off the inside of the left post.

NOT: Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler was on ice for the first two Nashville goals and finished with a team-high three giveaways. The Predators tied the score, 1-1, after knocking Fowler off the puck behind his own net. Tootoo recovered and centered a pass to Spaling who scored the first of his two goals. Spaling had just eight goals during the regular season while playing mostly a third-line role.

GOOD MOVE: The Ducks came into the game with a 35% success rate on the power play during the postseason, best among any team in the playoffs. They didn’t get their first man advantage until late in the second period, but capitalized when Jason Blake tipped in a slap shot from Bobby Ryan to tie the score, 2-2, with 1:37 left in the period.

BAD MOVE: The Ducks pulled Emery with about 90 seconds left in the game to get an extra attacker on the ice, but that move was nullified with Koivu committed a tripping penalty on Sergei Kostitsyn with 37.5 seconds remaining. The Predators then scored an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left.

NOTABLE: Nashville forward J.P. Dumont, who was in the lineup because Martin Erat was still sidelined with an upper-body injury from Game 4, assisted on Steve Sullivan’s second-period goal, becoming the 18thdifferent Nashville player to get at least a point in series. Rinne even got on the score sheet, assisting on Spaling’s second goal to become the 19thplayer to earn a point in the series. Only defenseman Shane O’Brien failed to score at least a point for the Predators.

Ducks: Mistakes allow Predators to steal Game 5

April, 23, 2011

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Ducks were less than a minute away from taking their first lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series Friday night at Honda Center; then they got greedy.

Instead of trying to kill off the last 40 seconds of regulation, the Ducks attempted to score an empty-net goal on the other end. They missed, resulting in an icing penalty.

Then everything snowballed.

They lost the ensuing faceoff in the Anaheim zone, and Predators standout defenseman Shea Weber promptly scored the tying goal with 35.3 seconds remaining.

Nashville maintained the momentum heading into overtime, long enough for the Ducks to make two additional mistakes just less than two minutes into sudden death, allowing Jerred Smithson to score the winning goal in the 4-3 victory.

Now it’s the Predators who have the 3-2 series edge heading to Sunday’s game in Nashville.

“We were 30 seconds away from being in control of this thing,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “Now we’re fighting for our lives.”

After the icing penalty in the final minute of regulation, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said he would have rather seen Saku Koivu attempt to tie up Mike Fisher on the drop. Instead, Fisher won the puck cleanly. The puck went to Cody Franson, who passed to a wide-open Weber at the point. He shot through traffic and beat Ducks goalie Ray Emery for his third goal of the series.

“You don’t try to do anything pretty; you just try to push the puck over the blue line,” Carlyle said of the faceoff. “They won it pretty clean. A missed assignment, and the bottom line is their top-scoring defenseman shoots the puck unchecked.”

The Ducks had 15 minutes of intermission to regroup before overtime, but they never had a chance to get back in rhythm. Smithson hammered Ducks rookie Brandon McMillan as he took control of the puck in front of the Ducks' bench.

The puck came loose to Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo, who skated down the left side and behind the net, where he spotted Smithson alone in the slot. Smithson sent a one-timer past Emery 1:57 into overtime, sending the shocked sold-out crowd heading to the exit, wondering whether it's the last time they'll see the Ducks this season.

“We made a mistake,” Carlyle said. “We turned the puck over along the wall and then we made a read and ran out of position and they found the open guy. There was no need for us to run out of position. There was no need for us to turn the puck over in the neutral zone, either.”

Now the Ducks will have less than 48 hours to regroup heading into Game 6 on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT.

“We have our back up against the wall, and a lot of times that brings out the best in guys,” Emery said. “We are going into their building and know they come hard there. We have to be at our best and give it everything. We have one shot at it and have to take it.”

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.”

Good time for a history lesson after 4-1 loss

April, 14, 2011

ANAHEIM — The Ducks have been in this position before. Maybe not this early in the playoffs, but they’ve certainly had to scramble back after an embarrassing postseason performance.

The Ducks lost the opening game of the Western Conference quarterfinals Wednesday night against the visiting Nashville Predators, a frustrating 4-1 defeat before an equally impatient sold-out crowd at Honda Center.

Four years ago during their magical run to the Stanley Cup title, the Ducks lost the opening game of the Western Conference finals, 2-1, against the Detroit Red Wings. Four days later they were flattened at home, 5-0, to fall behind in the series, 2-1.

Those losses became footnotes after Anaheim won the title three weeks later.

“It’s not all doom and gloom here,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.

The Ducks will have two days to regroup for Game 2 back at Honda Center on Friday. In the meantime, they need to figure out a way to get the puck past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who was perfect except for a two-man advantage goal by the Ducks with a little more than eight minutes remaining.

By then it was over.

“We just didn’t have it,” said Corey Perry, who was held without a point for only the second time in the last 13 games. “We weren’t on our game and weren’t executing. ... You don’t expect to have a game like this, but that is why there are seven games in a series. You come out, win the next one and it’s all tied up again.”

Just like four years ago. Behind a goal and two assists from Teemu Selanne, the Ducks bounced back in Game 4 to win, 5-3, and didn’t lose to the Red Wings again.

“You're going to win and lose in the playoffs,” said Ryan Getzlaf, another member of the 2007 championship team. “Every game is going to be a battle. We know we’re in for a long series. Our execution level definitely has to go up for the next game.”

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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: Not same song, dance vs. Nashville

April, 12, 2011

ANAHEIM — Please step forward Anaheim Ducks and meet your polar opposites.

When the Western Conference playoff race finally ran out of games last weekend and the Ducks — through a combination of success and other team’s failures — leaped from seventh to fourth place, they found themselves matched against the fifth-place Nashville Predators beginning Wednesday night at Honda Center.

Nashville, unlike the Ducks, hasn’t spent the last week wondering who will start in goal and how long he’ll last between the posts.

Up front, they couldn't be more different. The leading scorer for the Predators has 23 goals. Corey Perry of the Ducks has more than twice that many.

And when it comes to the postseason, Nashville has never advanced past the first round in four appearances, owning an overall mark of 6-16. The Ducks have advanced past the opening series in five of seven postseason appearances, including a run to the Stanley Cup title in 2007. They are 51-39 in playoff games.

Numbers and personnel aside, several of the Ducks said after practice Tuesday that the key, simple as it sounds, will be out-working the Predators from start to finish.

“We’re going to have to be prepared, when that puck drops, to be giving 110 percent,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “There’s no room for error.”

For all his skill and finishing ability, Perry said the key to generating offense will be forcing the Predators to chase the puck in their defensive zone and then slowly wearing them down on the forecheck.

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