Los Angeles Hockey: Teemu Selanne

Hats off, GM Murray, for locking up Perry

March, 19, 2013

And just like that, the biggest name that could have been moved before the April 3 deadline has been scratched off the trade market list.

Corey Perry is staying put in Anaheim thanks to a $69 million, eight-year contract extension announced during Monday night’s Sharks-Ducks game.

Score one for the underdog, GM Bob Murray.

Most team executives and agents around the NHL didn’t think he could sign both his potential unrestricted free agent stars, Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Maybe one, many said, but likely not both.

Of course, it cost the Ducks a healthy sum to pull it off. As in $8.625 million on average per season for Perry, and earlier this month, Getzlaf got reeled in for $8.25 million a year, also over eight years. That’s $135 million for two players from 2013-14 through 2020-21.

Here’s the crazy part: Perry likely would have gotten more on the open market, as in at least $9 million a year, if he truly was exposed to all 30 teams in the league come July 5.

The Toronto Maple Leafs would have been all over the 2011 Hart Trophy winner, with the likes of Detroit and Philadelphia probably not far behind.

Two months ago, I would have told you there was little chance Perry would sign before the trade deadline. That was the feeling most people around the league had, as well. But there's no question Anaheim’s surprising season, which has seen the Ducks challenge for first overall, had a profound impact on Perry and his decision to skip free agency.

Last summer, Perry was also presented with a massive offer from the Ducks, but sources say he didn’t want to commit yet. After a couple of disappointing seasons for the Ducks, it was certainly within Perry’s rights to be a little patient before deciding whether Anaheim remained committed to winning.

Smart offseason additions by Murray -- Sheldon Souray, Daniel Winnik and Bryan Allen, plus the emergence of Swedish goalie Viktor Fasth -- helped the Ducks fill some holes.

Getzlaf’s re-emergence as one of the NHL’s premier No. 1 centers is certainly no small factor, either. The Ducks' captain signed his extension March 8, putting all the spotlight and pressure squarely on his linemate, Perry.

And you knew Murray and the Ducks' front office would take one last run at Perry contractwise before deciding whether to put him on the trade market.

Make no mistake: Murray would have looked at what Perry’s value would have been on the trade market if he hadn't signed. It doesn’t mean Murray would have dealt the star, but he would have inquired.

After losing Justin Schultz for nothing last summer to free agency, the Ducks were not too thrilled at the thought of losing another major asset and getting nothing in return come July. You can’t keep losing key assets that create gaping holes in your organization.

Murray, in fact, had chatted with Nashville GM David Poile about his experience with the Ryan Suter saga a year ago, which ended with the Predators ultimately deciding to keep the star blueliner and pending UFA because they held out hope they could still sign him after the season. You can imagine what Poile would have had to say to Murray in retrospect.

Perry understood everything at play. He decided if the deal was right, he’d stay on.

Perry met with his agents, Mark Guy and Pat Morris of Newport Sports, on Wednesday in Dallas, had a long heart-to-heart and went over all his options. Perry went home to discuss it one final time with his family and phoned his agents Friday to tell them he had decided that if they could negotiate a deal, he'd stay on. That led to long negotiations all weekend between Newport and the Ducks.

Against the popular betting, the Ducks got it done.

Perry and Getzlaf, both signed, sealed and delivered.

The Ducks now have about $53 million committed to 16 players for next season. They’re about $11 million under the $64.3 million salary cap for '13-14 as they look to fill out next season's roster. Perry's deal, as part of the new CBA, has a no-movement clause that kicked in upon the signing of the extension.

People immediately hit Twitter after the Perry signing and suggested that Bobby Ryan was a goner this summer. But I do not believe that the Ducks feel they have to move Ryan's deal (two more years at $5.1 million per). The Ducks have expiring contracts on their roster and Ryan's deal easily fits into their plans. That's not to say if they get an offer they can't refuse they wouldn't listen, but a source close to the situation told ESPN.com Tuesday that the Ducks aren't going into the offseason with the idea of moving Ryan.

You also have to see what happens with veteran Finnish wingers Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, both UFAs after the season, And, certainly in the case of the Finnish Flash, perhaps this is finally it. He won’t decide that until the summer.

For now, it’s all about a run at the Stanley Cup for the Anaheim Ducks, who have removed the gigantic distractions of the Getzlaf/Perry contract situations with two-plus weeks to spare before the trade deadline.

What a story indeed.

Ducks: Third-period turnaround lifts Anaheim over Oilers, 4-2

March, 5, 2012

ANAHEIM -- Corey Perry said it was probably the worst period of the season. From his view in front of the net, Jonas Hiller thought the Ducks looked scattered and disorganized. Bobby Ryan half expected coach Bruce Boudreau to barge through the locker room door during the second intermission and give his team an earful.

Instead, the Ducks stayed calm after getting outshot, 22-8, and losing their one-goal lead in the second period. Ryan scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third on a power play, and Perry added two more in the final five minutes, lifting the Ducks to a much-needed 4-2 win against the visiting Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center.

With the victory, Anaheim moved to within five points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 15 games remaining.

“We needed something to pop,” said Ryan, who scored his 25th goal of the season. “We finally got a power-play goal, which has been ever elusive for us the past five games, so we were able to build off that.”

Ryan’s goal was a thing of beauty. He caught the Oilers off guard on a line change and Teemu Selanne made a perfect stretch pass. Ryan collected the puck at full speed while racing toward the right post, cut in front of the net and dove as he flicked a backhand high into the net 8:09 into the final period.

“I came in behind the play because it was a weird [line] change and they were selling the farm there a little bit with four guys on the rush all night,” Ryan said. “I wasn’t sure if Teemu was going to see me but he put it in the perfect place for me to just skate right into it and not lose any speed, and the rest was just trying to make a move that I’m comfortable making.”

With the assist, Selanne picked up his 1,398th point of his career, tying him with childhood idol and fellow Finn, Jari Kurri, for 19th all time in the NHL.

(Read full post)

Kings/Ducks: Little movement at trade deadline

February, 27, 2012
As expected, the Kings and Ducks were mostly quiet in the hours leading up to Monday’s trade deadline.

The Ducks, who have earned more points than any team in the NHL since Jan. 1, made two deals involving minor-league players. Before their current run from 20 points out of the final playoff spot on Jan. 6 to six heading into tonight’s game in Colorado, Ducks general manager Bob Murray was willing to listen to offers for anyone except veteran forwards Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne.

“They’ve made it real difficult the last couple of weeks and good for them,” Murray said Monday afternoon, shortly after the noon deadline had past. “I have no problem with that.”

The Kings, two points back of eighth place heading into this evening’s game in Nashville, made their big splash Thursday, trading defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional draft pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for high-scoring forward Jeff Carter.

Turns out, that was the biggest move in the NHL at this season's deadline. Carter’s former teammate in Columbus, forward Rick Nash, was the most prominent name on the trading block, but his general manager couldn't put together a deal and Nash will likely become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Anaheim's deadline day moves involved trading forward Andrew Gordon to the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Sebastian Erixon, and defenseman Mark Fraser to Toronto for forward Dale Mitchell.

Gordon, who played for Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau in Washington last season, signed a two-year deal with the Ducks last summer. He started the season on the third line with Devante Smith-Pelly and Andrew Gogliano, and they combined for the only goal in a 2-1 shootout victory against the Rangers in the second game of the season.

But the 26-year-old from Halifax, Canada, managed just two goals and two assists the next 35 games and was demoted to the AHL following a 4-2 victory Jan. 6 against the Islanders, the day the Ducks began their run up the standings.

"Sometimes, if you're not in the plans for a team, it's better to move," Gordon told a reporter for the Syracuse Crunch.

Erixson is an undrafted 25-year-old from Sundsvall, Sweden, and has not appeared in an NHL game.

Fraser was traded from New Jersey to the Ducks in December along with forward Rod Pelley but did not appear in any games for Anaheim. Mitchell was playing with Reading of the ECHL.

Both of Anaheim’s acquisitions are expected to be assigned to its AHL affiliate in Syracuse.

Ducks: Second-half run continues with 3-1 win vs. Blackhawks

February, 26, 2012

ANAHEIM—The Ducks were coming off an immensely successful eight-game road trip, one in which they posted a 5-1-2 record. Yet, when the puck dropped Sunday afternoon against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, they were still eight points back of the final playoff spot, the same margin as when the departed 18 days earlier.

A brick wall on the momentum highway?

Not a chance.

After a slow start, the Ducks proceeded to dominate the Blackhawks over the final 41 minutes, scoring a 3-1 victory in front of 17,601, the largest crowd to watch a regular-season game at Honda Center.

The victory moved the Ducks back within six points of the eighth-place Dallas Stars, who scored in the final minute earlier Sunday to tie the score against the Vancouver Canucks and then won in overtime.

“We didn’t get much help, but you know what?” said Teemu Selanne, who scored the third goal for the Ducks to move into 20th all time in NHL scoring. “Don’t worry about that. Just worry about the things we can control. Everything is in our own hands.”

It was just two months ago that the 41-year-old Selanne was rumored to be on the trading block. On the eve of the NHL trade deadline, it appears general manager Bob Murray has no choice but to keep his core group together and see what other magic they can pull out of their hats. Twenty points back of the final playoff spot on Jan. 5, the Ducks are officially in the Western Conference race.

“Within our group, it was a far goal for us but we set some short-term goals and we’ve reached a lot of them,” said team captain Ryan Getzlaf. “That’s what we have to continue doing. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We’re just in the hunt, that’s the only thing we’ve done.”

Since the calendar turned to 2012, the Ducks have earned more points (38) than any other NHL team and have the best goal differential (+23).

“It’s a completely different team in this locker room right now,” said winger Bobby Ryan. “I don’t think there’s any defining moment that changed things around. We started to get some bounces and, when that happened, you start to get a little confidence and things tighten up defensively for you.”

A big reason for the turnaround has been the play of goalie Jonas Hiller. He was sharp again Sunday, stopping 18 shots in his 21st consecutive start to improve to 15-3-4 in his last 23 games.

“Jonas has come on and become the best goalie in the league over this stretch,” Ryan said. “If we hadn’t given away November and December, we’d be in a great position right now. We dug our own hole so we’re trying to climb out of it.”

Even if it’s one point at a time.

Ducks: 5 keys to the second half

January, 28, 2012
Ryan GetzlafDebora Robinson/Getty ImagesThe Ducks will need Ryan Getzlaf's scoring to pick up if they hope to sustain their recent momentum.

The Ducks were thought to be dead in the water a month ago, but now they've taken flight and enter the All-Star break as the second-hottest team in the NHL over their past 10 games. Here are some keys to getting the Ducks back in the playoff hunt.

1. Ducks in a row – Second-half surges at Honda Center have become as much part of the norm around town as Disney parades. For reasons unknown, the Ducks come out of the All Star/Olympic break like their skates are on fire, owning a combined 85-44-15 record in the second halves since their Stanley Cup season of 2006-07. That’s a lofty .642 winning percentage based on points earned and points available. Anaheim needed to start its annual run a little sooner this season, thanks to a late-October slump that extended into November, December and January. After a loss to San Jose on Jan 4, the Ducks were staring at a 10-22-6 mark. Soon after, Ducks general manager Bob Murray let it be known that anyone not named Teemu Selanne or Saku Koivu was available for trade. Suddenly, the Ducks began playing the type of hockey everyone envisioned coming into the season and won eight of nine games. Heading into play on Jan. 6, they were 20 points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Coming out of the All-Star break, they’ll be 12 behind. It’s probably no coincidence that Jan. 6 marked the beginning of a 32-game stretch in which 23 of Anaheim’s opponents did not make the playoffs last season. Looks as if they might just be positioned for another second-half run.

2. Hope for Ryan? – Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf remains on pace to deliver his lowest goal-scoring campaign since his rookie season in 2005-06. Just as troubling, his minus-15 rating is 78 points lower than his career total. Getzlaf is the straw that stirs the drink for the Ducks, but too often plays like he'd rather be the umbrella. Even while the rest of the team is spreading its wings this month, the 26-year-old center has been quite bland. Outside of a four-assist effort against Edmonton, he has just two goals and three assists in the other nine games. History doesn’t suggest Getzlaf will catch fire after the All-Star break like the rest of the team has. For their sake, the Ducks might not be able to make up the early-season deficit unless he does get on a roll. And if they don’t, he might be one of the biggest names to change uniforms at next month’s trade deadline.

(Read full post)

Kings/Ducks: Anaheim takes another two-goal lead

December, 6, 2011
After the 1st period:

Ducks 2, Kings 0

The good: Some nice stretches of non-stop action in the opening period as both sides keep a brisk back-and-forth pace. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau juggled his top two lines and got results from both. Anaheim claimed a 1-0 lead on a mistake by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who went behind the net to retrieve the puck then inexplicably passed it to Ducks forward Teemu Selanne. He didn’t waste any time getting it over to Bobby Ryan who had a better angle to beat the scrambling Quick and he did. Later in the period, Ryan Getzlaf won a battle along the boards with Kings forward Colin Fraser, skated out of the corner and spotted Corey Perry down low. Getzlaf put the pass right on Perry’s stick and he potted his team-high 12th goal of the season with 2:23 left in the period. Matt Beleskey, who replaced Ryan on the top line, had an assist on the play, the third straight game he has produced a helper.

The bad: Quick’s biggest weaknesses reared his head against. He made a number of similar mistakes behind the net last season but none were as glaring as his first-period turnover. Mistakes like those tend to stick in his mind and, sure enough, he gave up another goal about 10 minutes later. He has five saves on seven shots on goal. Not a good start. While on the subject of bad starts, the Kings highest-paid player, defenseman Drew Doughty, had three giveaways in the period and stands at a minus-1.

The in between: Back in the lineup for the Ducks is forward George Parros. He missed 13 games after undergoing surgery for a torn retina in his eye. It will be interesting to see if he drops the gloves with fellow heavyweight Kevin Westgarth of the Kings. They aren’t afraid to throw their bodies around so far, registering three hits each … The Ducks have blown two-goal leads in the first two games since Boudreau replaced Randy Carlyle as coach last week. Will the Ducks finally cloe the deal?

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: Players get a feel for Bruce Boudreau

December, 1, 2011

ANAHEIM -- Ryan Getzlaf compared it to the first day of grade school. Bobby Ryan said it was more like a first date.

Whatever the occasion, the Ducks had the look of a team beginning anew during practice Thursday at Anaheim Ice, still mindful they were letting go of an important piece of the past.

Randy Carlyle, two months into his seventh season as coach of the Ducks, was fired Wednesday night within an hour of a 4-1 victory against the visiting Montreal Canadiens. He was immediately replaced by Bruce Boudreau, who was let go Monday as coach of the Washington Capitals.

The Ducks, who began Thursday with the second-worst record in the Western Conference, hope the move will provide a shot in the arm.

“It’s going to be a bit of an energy boost for us, hopefully,” Getzlaf said.

To read the full story on the team's first practice with Boudreau, click here.

Ducks: Losses continue to mount

November, 20, 2011

ANAHEIM -- Call it a trend within a trend.

The Ducks lost for the 10th time in the last 11 games Sunday evening, giving up the first three goals to the visiting Detroit Red Wings before eventually falling, 4-2, at Honda Center.

In nine of the losses, the Ducks allowed the first goal, something that hasn't gone unnoticed by coach Randy Carlyle.

“We’ve had to play catch-up in all of these games,” he said. “We’re not establishing any forecheck, or any physicality early in the hockey game. It takes too long for us to do that. We’re receiving and we’re not on the aggressive side, for whatever reason. I wish I had the answer to it because we’d be correcting it.”

The Red Wings needed just one shot on goal to take a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, the arena had a power failure that caused the game to be delayed 29 minutes. The Ducks managed to escape the first period without any further damage, but 14 seconds into the second the Red Wings scored again, this time after a pass from Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler was intercepted in the neutral zone, leading to a goal by Johan Franzen.

“I forced it,” Fowler said. “It was a terrible play, not something that I usually try and make. I have to be more patient than that.”

Seven minutes later, Detroit made it 3-0 on a goal by defenseman Brad Stuart.

“The way we’ve been behind in these last few games, you start trying to make up for everything all in one shift and maybe force some plays that you shouldn’t,” Fowler said “To me, it’s more the adjustments that teams are making. We just need to come up the ice as a five-man unit.”

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Kings: Offense has right mentality in win vs. Ducks

November, 17, 2011

LOS ANGELES—It’s a simply philosophy, really.

Kings coach Terry Murray has a phrase he likes to use when describing his team’s offensive objective during games. He calls it “shot mentality.” Throw the puck at the net at every opportunity and see what positives comes from there.

The Kings worked that strategy well early on Wednesday night against the visiting Ducks, didn’t get the results they wanted but still finished with just enough "shot mentality" to win, 2-1, in a shootout at Staples Center.

Justin Williams scored the deciding goal in the shootout, and goalie Jonathan Quick stopped 23 shots in regulation and six of seven in the shootout to lift the Kings to their first two-game winning streak in nearly four weeks.

The Kings greeted Anaheim with a barrage of shots from the opening faceoff. They struggled to find openings in Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, but didn’t let the frustration boil over.

“That means you’re doing a lot of good things to get frustrated about,” Murray said. “That means you’re putting pucks to the net.”

The Kings recorded 17 of their 37 shots on net during the opening period, the most shots on goal for any period this season. They had 11 in the first 7 minutes.

The opening period was scoreless but the Kings took advantage of a 5-on-3 early in the second.

Mike Richards, who took all seven of his shots on goal through the first two periods, the most by any player on the Kings this season, scored his fifth goal of the season on the 5-on-3.

"Our power play has been good all year," Richards said. "We got to get the puck on net as much as possible and we did that. We got a fortunate bounce off the end boards and capitalized on it.”

The play was set in motion when Jack Johnson shot wide from the high slot and Richards collected the carom off the end boards, then shot it past Hiller from a tough angle at the 7:38 mark. The Kings have scored at least one power play goal in five consecutive games and 12 out 18 overall this season.

“The five-on-five play was good,” Murray said. “The mentality of getting pucks to the net and having traffic was very good. I liked our power play tonight, we moved it around, we got pucks to the net.”

The Ducks, who came into the game last in the league in scoring, had a goal waved off with 14:35 left in regulation Teemu Selanne took a shot from the right faceoff circle and hit Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in the chest. Ryan Getzlaf was charging the crease and he caught the airborne puck in his left glove and shoveled past the line as he crashed into Quick. After a brief review, the goal was disallowed.

The Ducks finally got even when Selanne scored a power-play goal with 3:25 remaining in regulation.

"We let them hang around," Williams said. "Couldn’t get that second goal past the goalie and, unfortunately, they scored to tie it up. It’s tough giving up a point to a division opponent but we got two.”

Quick came up just short of recording his league-leading fourth shutout of the season.

The Ducks have lost eight of nine and 11 of their last 13.

Ducks: Brandon McMillan put to the test

October, 20, 2011
ANAHEIM—Brandon McMillan still wears No. 64 on his uniform. That says a lot about the 21-year-old forward for the Ducks.

The club hasn’t yet asked him to upgrade to a lower number, a rite of passage for most players as they transition into full-time members of the NHL.

Yet, the fact that he’s even in the NHL says a lot about McMillan, who was selected in the third round of the 2008 entry draft, 85th overall.

Of the seven players Anaheim selected before him in that draft, he beat them all to the NHL, then went out and produced 11 goals and 10 assists in 60 regular-season games with the Ducks last season. He added another goal and an assist in the six-game loss to Nashville in the first round of the playoffs.

His speed, toughness and versatility made him a keeper after his call up following just 16 games in the American Hockey League. Now he's being asked to bring even more to the ice.

With the loss of second-line winger Jason Blake for three months due to a severe cut to his forearm, McMillan stepped into his position the last two games, putting the former third-line grinder in the team’s top six grouping that includes last season’s MVP, Corey Perry, a future Hall of Famer, Teemu Selanne, and three other former first-round draft picks.

McMillan had an assist in a 3-2 victory Monday night in San Jose, the fourth straight victory by the Ducks. He practiced with the second line again Thursday in preparation for Friday night’s game against the Dallas Stars at Honda Center, and coach Randy Carlyle said he’ll be looking for McMillan to continue contributing in the scoring column.

“The production has to be come,” he said. “It’s just not about playing there. It’s about producing and making a contribution to our group. When you get to play those minutes with that level of players, there’s going to be pressure applied to produce some points.”

McMillan estimated he played approximately five games with Selanne and Saku Koivu last season. He said the challenge is staying aware that the puck can come his way at any moment.

“There are little holes this big,” McMillan said, holding his hands about six inches apart. “Saku’s going to fit them through, so you’ve got to be ready for the puck and you’ve got to expect the unexpected.”

McMillan said his ability to keep up with Selanne on breakouts is also an asset to their line.

“Even last year, we’d get at least a 2-on-1 every game, just the way we were getting ahead of the play and behind their defensemen,” McMillan said.

The Ducks will need every breakaway they can muster against the Stars (5-1-0), who are off to just as strong a start as the Ducks, winning their last four games as well.

Ducks: Top line feasts in 4-2 victory vs. Blues

October, 16, 2011

ANAHEIM -- Maybe it was the broken sticks, or simply the breadsticks. Either way, the Ducks found a way to brush off several mini-slumps with one swipe of the hands by Corey Perry on Sunday night at Honda Center.

Perry scored Anaheim’s first power-play goal of the season early in the third period against the visiting St. Louis Blues, the winning goal in a 4-2 victory that pushed the Ducks record to 3-1, their best start since 2006.

The goal was Perry’s first point of the season, matching the longest he has ventured into the fall without hitting the score sheet. Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf also assisted on the play for their first points of the season.

The goal was made easier when St. Louis forwards Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen were forced to kill the penalty empty handed after their sticks broke early in the power play.

The players quickly took advantage, as Getzlaf passed to Selanne down low and he sent a cross-pass through the crease to Perry, who redirected the puck into the net for a 3-1 lead at the 3:40 mark of the final period.

“We knew what was going on,” Perry said of the stick-less defenders. “That’s why we worked it up, we worked it around. They couldn’t get sticks in the lanes to block passes, so we had an advantage.”

Bobby Ryan contributed two goals and an assist and may have helped unlock the top line in another way, suggesting Getzlaf and Perry accompany him to an Italian restaurant earlier Sunday, where they indulged in breadsticks, a bona fide slump buster, according to Ryan.

“Breadsticks are key, that’s right,” Ryan said with a laugh.

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Ducks: Newcomers making an impact

October, 11, 2011

ANAHEIM -- They’re a combination of rookies, rejects and players trying to reinvent their games.

Ducks forwards Devante Smith-Pelly, Andrew Gordon and Andrew Cogliano have come together to start this season, bringing a mixed bag of skill, playing experience and personal endeavors.

They might not possess the name recognition built by teammates Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf or Teemu Selanne, but they have the understanding of what it will take to stick with the team, and they’re willing to try anything to hold on to their dream of playing in the NHL.

The trio has been matched together on the third line, an energy role as it’s known in the league, but they’ve also been handed vital penalty-killing duties.

They even combined to score the only goal in a 2-1 shootout victory Saturday night against the New York Rangers in Stockholm.

Gordon started the scoring play by carrying the puck into the offensive zone, then sending a brisk pass over to Smith-Pelly to his right. The puck caromed off his stick and went into the corner, where Smith-Pelly laid a check on a Rangers defender while Gordon scooped in the loose puck and sent a perfect centering pass to Cogliano charging down the slot. Cogliano did the rest, putting it past goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist for a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period.

“That’s just the type of goal that our line has to try and create,” Smith-Pelly said Monday afternoon.

Smith-Pelly turned 19 in June. Gordon is 25 but still considered a rookie. Cogliano is 24 but has the most NHL experience of the trio, having played in 328 games heading into this season. A former first-round draft pick of the Oilers, Cogliano never lived up to expectations in Edmonton and was traded to the Ducks over the summer for a second-round pick in 2013.

Coming into Saturday’s game, Gordon had one goal and an assist in 13 games in the NHL. Washington didn’t sign him after last season and he was picked up by the Ducks on a two-year deal. Signing a multi-year contract was the first victory for Gordon, making the opening-day roster was the second.

(Read full post)

Buffalo Sabres 4, Ducks 1

October, 7, 2011
Buffalo Sabres 4, Ducks 1

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Playing before a pro-Teemu Selanne crowd in his hometown of Helsinki, Finland, the Ducks continued their season-opening woes Friday night, losing for the 14th time in 18 openers since the team was established.

THE STAT: The Ducks out-shot the Sabres, 11-0, in the third period to tie a franchise record for fewest shots allowed in a period, but still couldn’t get anything past Buffalo goalkeeper Ryan Miller. They finished with an overall 30-25 advantage in shots on net.

TURNING POINT: The Ducks finally got on the board 4 minute into the second period. Maxime Macenauer won a face-off in his offensive zone and passed to defenseman Nate Guenin, who threw the puck at the net. Somehow, it got past Miller for his only miscue of the game, giving Guenin his first NHL goal and Macenauer his first NHL point on the assist. That burst of excitement lasted 73 seconds, as Jason Pominville sent a shot through traffic that Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller apparently never saw as it slid through his legs for a 3-1 lead.

HOT: The busiest player on the ice was also one of the oldest. Jason Blake, 38, took a team-high five shots on goal and dished out three hits. Unfortunately, his linemates weren’t as active. Selanne, perhaps weary from his media tour throughout Helsinki during the last week, took one shot on goal and had three giveaways. Saku Koivu took one shot on goal and committed two minor penalties, one of which led to Buffalo’s first goal of the game at the 4:02 mark of the first period, putting the Ducks in the hole for good.

NOT: Whatever happened to the top line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry? The trio, oh so important to the team’s success this season, must have left their games in one of the saunas. The RPG line combined for zero shots on goal in the first period, when the Ducks fell behind 2-0 and were essentially taken out of the game. They finished with a total of seven shots on goal but most of those came when the Sabres were sitting back protecting a three-goal lead in the third period. Hiller, coming off vertigo symptoms that sidelined him for most of the second half of last season, stopped 21 of 25 shots. The one that snuck through his pads to make it 3-1 was a biggie.

GOOD MOVE: Keeping Guenin on the roster is looking like a good idea. Not only did the 28-year-old journeyman from Swickley, Pennsylvania, who came in with just 17 previous NHL games under his belt, notch the only goal for Anaheim, he equaled a team-high with three hits and also had a takeaway in 13:02 of ice time. Guenin needs to take advantage of his opportunities, as the Ducks will need to trim a roster spot when Toni Lydman returns from offseason shoulder surgery.

BAD MOVE: What’s so frustrating about the lack of success on the RPG line is they had their chances. The Ducks went on the power play five times, including a brief 5-on-3 in the third period, but got nothing out of the extra attackers. Interestingly, the Ducks tried to save the legs of their superstars by inserting some of their youngest and least experienced players on the penalty kill. Instead the Sabres took advantage, scoring on two of their four power plays.

NOTABLE: The Ducks announced before the game they will wear a No. 24 patch on their jerseys beginning next week in honor of Ruslan Salei, who spent nine years with the team before he was killed in a plane crash last month in Russia with the rest of his KHL team. Salei still holds the franchise record for most games played by a defenseman (594)

UP NEXT: Saturday vs. New York Rangers in Stockholm, Sweden, 10 a.m. (PT).

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?

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