Posts Tagged ‘Bryan Allen’

Ducks are landing and nesting for the new season. Guys are showing up at the rinks for pre-camp skates. It’s all low impact non-check scrimmages. Often called Pond Hockey or just shinny. The kind of hockey that frustrates a Bryan Allen or Mark Fistric and allows a slick sleuth like Kyle Palmieri to virtually to hot dog it at will.

Guys are working on skating, puck handling, passing, shooting and finding their timing. It’s important work. Primary attention is given to their agility, followed by timing and in the last few days prior to camp opening, chemistry or teamwork. This latter testing too is about timing though not just your own, but with your teammates.

What is established now will set the foundation for how and when the team comes together during the season and hopefully playoffs.

At camp the degree of difficulty is magnified exponentially. The moment the hitting starts, the competition gets brutally honest. This camp is will be our Ducks most competitive camp in years.

The team is set in goal but step outside the crease and there are question marks everywhere. Every reporter, blogger and poster is busily filling out their depth charts and most of us will be proven wrong.

Half of the forward jobs are open. You can pencil guys in here and there but nothing is set outside of Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne, Koivu, Cogliano and Winnick. Factually, the best we can do is handicap the competition at this point.

The D is similar. Toni Lydman retired. Sheldon Souray is out until Christmas. Francois Beauchemin will hopefully start the season but will have likely missed most of his camp. If Beauch starts, he starts a month behind.

Virtually half the team will get sorted out in camp. Bob Murray has finally created the camp he wants.

One result we might expect is TOI will be more evenly divided among the forwards. Fowler and Beauchemin will carry the heavy load on the back line.

I definitely see a playoff roster out there. Probably with home ice advantage in the first round.

It was a 90 minute practice under the mantra, back to basics.

Obviously Coach didn’t like what he saw in Phoenix. “I thought today was a good day to get back to basics, especially since we’ve seen a couple things happening where we’re slipping from the way we used to play. Sometimes you just need to come back, gather it, and put it all together.”

Those back to basics follow the Keep It Simple Stud rule. Press the forwards all the way back. Keep the play in front of you. Maintain inside position on your check. Outnumber the opposition at the puck or point of attack. Support the puck. Play the man before you play the puck. Keep the gaps short when you don’t have the puck. Get sticks and bodies in the passing lanes. (Note: Not always easy to do when you’re GM loads you up with left-handed shooters)

This is mostly about cleaning things up in our own end. Luca Sbisa, who has played alongside Cam Fowler while Bryan Allen sweats out the flu, noted, “We want to play a little tighter defensively, especially after we score a goal. The next shift is really big. The past few games I don’t think we did a very good job. There’s a few things we have to address, but that’s why we had a day like this. We had a chance to go over a few things systems-wise.”

Common to most defensive play drills is that you start the drill without the puck and end the drill transitioning to offense. It’s fluid.

The Coyotes have been very tactical and lucky scoring 4 goals in each of the past two games. Tactical in how they isolated on our slower moving D-men and targeting 5-hole and top shelf on Fasth. Lucky when Jonas Hiller allowed a couple-3 soft goals.

“Even if you slip a little bit, it’s going to affect your game,” said Teemu Selanne. “That’s what has happened. That’s why we went back to the basics. Usually that works.”

So many little things lead to Ducks victories. As we’ve been saying it’s different guys every night.

We add a right-handed shot on the blue line and Ben Lovejoy gets two points in the biggest game of the year so far.

The PK was unbelievable holding the  Blackhawks to one shot in consecutive 4 on 3’s.

The character of our Ducks is simply amazing. Frankly, I doubted that Getzlaf or Perry had this in them. It’s not just the Twins of course. We paid a high price but when Brad Staubitz took on Stu Bickell but it was a price worth paying. Ryan Getzlaf knows he’s got support and backup out there.

On the goal that even Hazy had trouble with counting. I questioned on Twitter that the Ref should have blown the whistle when the puck was out of view but league ops in Toronto got the call right. If you saw Coach in the post game interview, that’s exactly what Gabby was asking the Ref’s between periods. Why no whistle per Rule 85.3. There’s absolutely no way either Ref could see that puck once Sbisa fell on it.

I’ll toot my own horn a bit because nobody I’m aware of but Coach Boudreau and I asked the right question. Why no whistle when the Ref’s lost sight of the puck?

Hazy made the rookie lawyer mistake of arguing the law when the law is against you.

Our Ducks played their best game of the season. They gave themselves a chance by skating with the Chicago from the drop of the puck. The questionable PK came up big when needed. If Bryan Allen didn’t silence his doubters tonight it’s time to question the doubters.  Francois Beauchemin blocked 3 shots and recorded 6 hits.

The biggest thing about our Ducks and it showed throughout tonight’s game is that on both sides of the biscuit there’s a player positioned in support. Souray gets beat by quicker Blackhawk and another duck picks up the check.

It’s all about teamwork and our Ducks showed tonight they are one heckuva no quit team.

A bounce. A rocket. A great goal-tending performance from Viktor Fasth. Ducks beat the Sharks 2-1 in regulation time.

For two periods our Ducks outshot, outhit and earned a noticeable territorial advantage in play. As happened last Monday in San Jose they simply weren’t getting rewarded for their effort. Demers gets a stick on an Andrew Cogliano snap shot. Greiss tips a Souray blast just over the net.

I was feeling that if we got one we might a couple-3 more in succession. It wasn’t to be though. Our Ducks showed tremendous discipline in gutting one out they might have thrown away as recently as just a couple of weeks ago.

Bryan Allen was the marked man again tonight taking 3 minor penalties, the first two of which were bad calls.  Give the Sharks credit. Adam Burrish faked a trip. The hold on Wingells was called very quickly. I’ll give the Refs the right call for the cross-check Couture. Teh problem for guys like Allen is that you don’t notice them until the make a mistake. Quick and don’t look, how many shots did Allen block tonight? How many good first passes did he make?

What is really impressing me is that not so long ago a couple of bad calls like those on Allen and our guys would have started whining to be followed by a penalty parade to the sin bin. Not with this Ducks team though. This team is not giving up on themselves. This team is sucking it up and continues playing their hearts out. And finding ways to win.

When was the last time you saw a Ducks team win a Coach’s nightmare 7-4 and come back and win the next game 2-1? This speaks volumes for what this team might accomplish this year.

Emerson Etem took 3-4 shifts on the top line in the third period. He looked like he belonged.

Bobby Ryan didn’t get on the scoreboard. He made some great defensive plays from the center position.

Nick Bonino followed up his hat trick performance by taking key defensive face offs against the Sharks PP late in the third.

Ryan Getzlaf didn’t score but he finished the game tied with Sheldon Souray for shot leader with 4 apiece. This will pay dividends as Getz becomes less predictable.

Sticking with Getz, I saw something tonight absent since we traded Pronger. The Captain drifted back from the face off dot for a quick chat with Sheldon Souray. Usually guys are confirming assignments. It was good to see Ryan Getzlaf having somebody he check off with.

Enjoy the win. Enjoy that our Ducks took 3 of 4 points from the Sharks in two games. Let’s remember that Sharks played each game without their top two D-men, Dan Boyle and Brent Burns. Sharks will be better when those two guys get healthy.

If somebody had told you that our Ducks would start the season 6-1-1 but that Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan would total just 3 goals between them, would you have called them crazy or asked them to share?

The next test  for our Ducks is a 6 game road swing. Ducks begin in Colorado on Wednesday. The trip then includes stops in Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit and Nashville.

With 3 days between the Chicago (2/12) and Detroit (2/15) games and that Chicago will be our twelfth game of the season, look for a quarter pole report at that time.

Local media calls it the Freeway Series. How exciting. What’s at stake is SoCal Raz Rights. It happens at award shows, at pre-camp skates and at Golds Gym. Given the passion fans invest in the series it’s a rivalry deserving of its own trophy.
Last season Kings were the clear Raz Rights winner going 5-1 against our Ducks.

Stats and previous records mean nothing. Though how the Kings have managed to eke out a 2-2-2 record while scoring less than two goals (1.83) per game is noteworthy. Kings virtually must play perfect hockey to win these days. The fact their doing it even half the time is remarkable. Kings have scored more than two goals just once in their first six games, beating Phoenix 4-2 last Saturday.

Ducks are winning while in a state of flux. Getzlaf and Perry are on their third left winger in just six games. Nick Bonino was moved off the second line for the game last night against the Wild. Sheldon Souray is anchoring a PK unit. The Bobby Ryan to center experiment was revived absent any fanfare. Coach just did it. The fourth line is drawn from rotating call-ups, an enforcer and a rookie who can only play one more game. On the back line Fowler and Allen are the only ES pairing that has survived intact through the early going.

Last season the Kings won the Cup while seemingly hardly breaking a sweat. They were that dominant. Kings pushed our Ducks around like our guys were boy toys. This is the game in which Ducks fans should truly see the impact Dan Winnick, Bryan Allen and Sheldon Souray bring to our team. Nashville Predators aren’t exactly pushovers but these LA Kings may still be hockey’s most physically dominant team.

Ducks new compete level was on full display last night when Bryan Allen battled Zenon Konopka in front of Fasth.

Earlier in the week many eyes were fixed on the Sharks game as a measuring stick for our team. This game is an equally important measuring stick because these Kings will test our mettle and character. Prior to this short 3 game points streak the Vancouver Canucks got under the skin and exposed our Ducks for the bunch of whiners and crybabies they became on that night.

Our guys have done a great job of cleaning that up for 3 consecutive games. This game will show us if their newly found character is real. In other words, avoid the extra-curricular trash hockey, goof-ball retaliating and match the Kings physicality within the game itself; our Ducks are showing they can play with anybody, even Stanley Cup champions.

Hockey Bud czhokej raised questions about our Ducks D yesterday. Just stumbled upon  a couple respected voices addressing the issue:

Via tsn.ca – Scott Cullen reporting:

DUCKS sign D BRYAN ALLEN for three years, $10.5-million and DSHELDON SOURAY for three years, $11-million 
After dealing veteran D Lubomir Visnovsky to the Islanders, the Ducks were undermanned on the blueline, so they acted quickly in free agency, adding a pair of veterans that have size and toughness.

31-year-old Bryan Allen played tough minutes for Carolina, facing a high level of competition and starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone (www.behindthenet.ca). At 6-foot-5, Allen has size, toughness and is a reliable defensive presence.

Souray, who turns 36 this week, resurrected his career after a season in the AHL, playing effectively in some difficult minutes for the Dallas Stars. However, Souray wasn’t utilized much in a power play role — his 1:48 PP time on ice per game ranked fourth among Stars defencemen — so his point total (21) was modest, but his plus-minus (plus-11) was his best since his rookie year in 1997-1998.

In Anaheim, Souray’s size and toughness will be appreciated, but he may also have more of an opportunity to unleash his bomb on the power play; despite injuries and a year in the AHL, since 2003-2004, Souray is tied for sixth among defencemen with 48 power play goals. Zdeno Chara,Dion Phaneuf and Sergei Gonchar are the only active defencemen ahead of him.

The Ducks now have a solid veteran defence corps to support Cam Fowlerand Luca Sbisa. Allen, Souray, Francois Beauchemin and Toni Lydmanround out a steady, if not necessarily spectacular, group.

Via Hockey Writers – Colin Insley reporting

On the Back End

The Ducks have seven defenseman under contract for the 2013 season, with off-season signing Sheldon Souray and third year man Cam Fowler expected to carry the load offensively with Francois Beauchemin, Bryan Allen, Toni Lydman, and Luca Sbisa playing rhythm. Nate Guenin is slotted to be the seventh defenseman.

On paper, that’s not a terrible defensive line-up, especially with the addition of Allen, a big stay-at-home defenseman with a mean streak – but where have Anaheim fans heard that before (coughAndySuttoncough)?

The Souray signing was a real head scratcher, though. Bob Murray signed the 36-year-old injury prone rear guard to a three-year deal worth $11M. While Souray had a decent (albeit injury-shortened) season in Dallas in 2011-12 with six goals and fifteen assists in 64 games, the fact is that he’s on the wrong side of 30, and has been trending down for the last several years.

Cam Fowler Ducks

(Icon SMI)

Cam Fowler is another year older, and hopefully another year better defensively. While the sophomore played a full 82-game schedule in 2011-12, with bigger minutes against stiffer competition, he finished the season with five goals and 24 assists, or eleven fewer points than his rookie campaign. He also ended the season with a -28 rating, compared to a -25 the season before.

Beauchemin figures to be a rock defensively, while Toni Lydman struggled last season and will hope to regain his stellar 2010-11 form.

The interesting variable here is Luca Sbisa who had a decent 2011-12 season with 24 points (5G, 19A). Specifically, according to Bruce Boudreau, Sbisa may well have been Anaheim’s best defenseman down the stretch in 2011-12. Boudreau even went so far as to peg Sbisa as “a silent star in the making.” High praise, indeed.

Undersized Sami Vatanen may also challenge for a spot, having played very well in Norfolk (4G, 17A – good for 4th on the team). Ditto 2012 5th Overall pick Hampus Lindholm, although he is currently concussed.

If Sbisa can continue his development into that “silent star,” Fowler can take a step forward, Souray puts some points on the board and stays healthy, and if Allen, Beauchemin and Lydman can minimize offensive threats in their own zone, Anaheim may have an alright blue line in 2013.

Via BackCheck’s Blog – czhokej & bc reporting:

cz: I certainly hope that Toni will have a good season. He should be healthy, and if he performs well, our D should be solid. Especially if Cam Fowler with his great skating and puck-handling, improves his game-reading and decision making. I do not know too much what to expect from Allen, Guenin and Souray, but I like the size, which we really need. Souray is getting older and his shot was not working that well last year.

bc: Lydman is key. After he went down, far too much was put on Beauchemin. Frankie soldiered through it but still, you don’t want that much on one guy.
Coach was able to get the most out of Luca Sbisa by spotting him last season. Now we need Luca to take it up a notch and be effective against the opposition’s better players.
In Allen we get a solid, physical match-up defender. He will take a chunk of the load off Beauch and allow Coach to again spot Sbisa a bit. Look for Allen to take the top line match-up assignments while Luca graduates to top six match-ups.
Souray brings snarl to the 3rd ES unit and a great shot on the 2nd unit PP.
What I don’t like about our D and can’t fathom how a professional GM does this is that once again our top six D-men are southpaws. It’s just so wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to start.
Another key to the D is the addition of Daniel Winnick. He will produce double digits in scoring but more importantly the PK unit just got some much needed help.
Overall, I think our GA will be lower this season. We are better on paper with the additions of Allen, Souray and a healthy Toni Lydman.
Fowler and Sbisa should take another step forward. We should get more from Francois Beauchemin by asking less of him.
Murray sure as heck didn’t do them any favors putting 6 lefties out there though.

Four posts from three blogs bringing significantly different views. Collectively, it’s about as complete a look at our Ducks D as i can put together for you.

The depth chart is fairly easy to project. Absent is a clear #1 who goes over the boards in all situations. Our new Ducks back line is a D by committee. Such is life after the departures of first Chris Pronger, followed by the retirement of Scott Niedermayer. In hindsight we were sure treated to something very special. Given the talent and complimentary skill sets of the survivors, at least Frankie Beachemin is a link to the Prongs/Nieds era taking Lubo back may not be the worst thing, if that be the outcome. The old cliche’  ‘Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make’ is appropriate.
For now at least, lets address what is in front of us. Even if Lubo returns, it will remain a D by committee. As of this moment, Cam Fowler is the last guy you use in all situations.
Beauchemin heads the depth chart as he’s the most serviceable in all situations. He’s become a smart hockey player willing to sacrifice for his team. In that sense Beauch is a genuine heart and soul guy out there. Beauch will most likely continue to partner with Cam Fowler in ES situations and Bryan Allen or Luca Sbisa when Gabby wants to counter with physical match-ups
Cam Fowler is No. 2 with a bullet as they say in music. Cam will see ES time with Beauch, but Coach won’t be shy about sending Fowler out there with Allen or Sbisa. Expect to see him sharing 1st unit PP time with Sheldon Souray. Also don’t be surprised if Cam is out there for an entire PP. One thing Fowler has is the ability to pace himself and impact the tempo of the game.
I could be wrong of course but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pair Fowler with Lydman. Cam needs a physical presence beside him. Also next to Fowler, Lydman might be our best play-making D-man. It could be tempting to toss them out against the opposition’s depth lines though. Lydman might also see some PP time with Cam behind Souray.
Such is life with D by committee. There are always spot situations where you can stray from the script.
At ES, Souray is most likely anchoring the 3rd unit with one of Lydman, Allen, or Sbisa.
PK units are from Beauchemin, Sbisa, Allen, Lydman.

At risk of restating the obvious, Coach and Brad Lauer have a lot of options. The challenges are also obvious. Those six guys will share 4920 minutes of TOI over 82 games. OT is excluded. As the minutes are divided up (apparently divied isn’t a word) the spread might be Souray at 14-16 minutes and the top TOI at 24-26 minutes. Nate Guenin looks to be the leading candidate 7 on the depth chart. He’s pushed by Jordan Hendry and Mat Clark.
Our Ducks D depth-wise is better now than at any time during the post Hall of Fame D era.