Posts Tagged ‘Cam Fowler’

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

Both goalies appear well adapted to the smaller nets.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yesterday, czhokej and I indulged a rare chance to hang out, share a salad, flirt with waitresses and chat Ducks hockey. The food was tasty, the waitresses good sports and the chat compelling. Here are some quick hits:

First up was the top line and all the events surrounding it. New contracts to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Bobby Ryan trade. The signing of Dustin Penner. cz pointed out that Dustin Penner was the top scorer on the Kid Line during our Ducks Cup year.  Pancake was brought in to stabilize the top line. If he’s successful much of the day-to-day roster and roles fall into place. If not, coach will continue to rotate guys off and on, in and out through a seemingly endless search for consistency.

A couple of minutes into the now annual is Teemu coming back, we realized we weren’t sure where he would play. As if to punctuate the moment a mushroom rolled off my fork. Saku’s role has changed and Teemu isn’t a checking line player. First line? For now Dustin Penner is penciled in alongside the Big Dogs. Second line? Does he have enough left to beat out the up and coming Emerson Etem? First unit PP? Teemu lost that job to Nick Bonino and Bobby Ryan last season. When he did get first unit PP line it came when Getzlaf was moved to the point.

If Penner fails, maybe Teemu is the solution on the top line. Much of Penner’s success or lack thereof actually depends on which Getzlaf hits the ice in October. Is it the dominating player we saw during the shortened season or do we get his evil twin, the perimeter playing Giveaway Getz who glides around the ice instead of skating? Eight million doesn’t seem to buy what it used to get you.

While I see Ducks Iron Man Andrew Cogliano as trade bait, we wondered if he would return to the checking line. Cogliano and Emerson Etem showed genuine chemistry on the PK. Could they continue to be a dangerous duo in ES situations?

Coach has said he expects bigger things from Matt Beleskey next season. Could Matt produce those “bigger things” alongside Koivu & Winick? Beleskey would be the shooter and adds a physical element to the checking line.

Nick Bonino will center a line. There’s plenty of competition among his potential linemates. Selanne, Etem are the leading candidates on RW. Palmieri, Silfverberg on LW.

cz notes that Cam Fowler was much improved defensively last season. I noted Scot Niedermayer’s influence as Cam seemed to be taking that rover-D role and trying to control the tempo when he has the puck.

We both hope for more offense from the back line. I see it coming from a luckier and less snake bit Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen. cz is keeping faith with Luca Sbisa. We think Sheldon Souray will take a few games off in back to back and 3 games in 4 nights situations. Though he and Beauchemin should be counted on for 5-6 goals.

The goaltending is solid to spectacular.

Replacing Bobby Ryan and possibly Teemu Selanne won’t be easy. Still, these Ducks could be a real offensive powerhouse next season. Consider, Perry 35-40, Getzlaf 25, Penner, Etem & Palmieri 20+, Bonino, Cogliano, Silfverberg 15+, Koivu, Beleskey 12, Fowler & Vatanen 10. That’s over 200 goals without anybody having a career year or exceeding expectations. Add a handful of goals each from Beauchemin, Souray, Sbisa and the fourth line. All of a sudden we’re enjoying a team that can score anywhere and anytime.

With excellent goaltending behind them the 2013-14 Ducks are a well-organized team primed for success.

L.A. Kings center Jarret Stoll, the cretin who’s cheap shot sidelined Cam Fowler for a couple of weeks, was taken to hospital after falling ill at his Hermosa Beach home.

Per tsn.ca:

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told the (L.A.) Times that he visited Stoll in the hospital and the “bottom line is that he’s fine. Now the issue is what caused it.”

We certainly don’t wish any harm upon Stoll, who avoided penalty and a Shanaban following his cheap shot on Fowler. What goes around does tend to come around.

The 31-year-old Stoll missed all but the first game of the Kings’ second-round playoff series against the Sharks after suffering a concussion following a hit by San Jose’s Raffi Torres.

Play a cheap and chippy game the way Stoll does and eventually a bigger, badder player will make you pay for it.

Blog note: This blog has temporarily at least, suspended the practice of linking L.A. Times stories. For reasons unknown L.A. Times reporter Lisa Dillman has blocked and banned me from following her on Twitter @reallisa. I have asked her twice for an explanation on the block but she hasn’t responded. Was it something I said kiddo?
Eventually I’ll take it up with her editors and/or the Times legal department if she fails to respond. In the meantime, this blogs practice of respecting DMCA, Berne Agreement and Fair Use of Copyright material will continue.

Good for our Ducks and tough for the Admirals. How would you like to be Admirals Trent Yawney in the middle of stretch for a playoff seed and lose two of your top six D-men on a call-up. See that piano on Pete Holland’s back who was sent to Norfolk earlier? Ads need him to produce.

The call-ups mean that either of Nick Bonino or Cam Fowler will be ready for Wednesday. Bones is skating with the team again. No word on Cam at this time.

Coach will have to decide if he goes with the young Vatanen who can certainly lug the puck up ice or the seasoned Hendry. If both go, you can bet that there’s an undisclosed injury on the back line. Very unusual that anybody needs additional rest after 4 days off.

Many thanks to yougetwhatyouputin for again stepping up to keep the blog going forward. This time a Trojan worm took down the desktop while a driver issue sent the laptop dark. The desktop is back up and running. The laptop will require a return to the repair shop.

You probably know the OCR has gone subscription based. As a result the Ducks no longer include the OCR in its Daily Clips email promo. The bummer is that practice coverage provided by the Ducks Official Website is inconsistent. We need to know who is on the ice, the lines and D pairings at practice. The purpose or theme of the practice, if there is one. Which goalie leaves the ice first on game day skates. If you would please email our Ducks and let them know how you want practices covered.

Ducks @ Kings:

Stakes: Ducks backed into the playoffs when Calgary beat Phoenix in OT yesterday. A win in RT will all but seal Ducks second Pacific Division crown in franchise history. IF our Ducks do win in RT a tie in their remaining five games will secure the Pacific.

Keys to the Game:

1. Match the Kings intensity. We can’t win unless we want to win.
2. Stay out of the sin bin. You just can’t give the Kings PP chances.
3. Be first on loose pucks. Do this and we know our Ducks are skating.
4. Win the physical battles.
5. Neutralize Doughty by forcing his partner (Reghr) to play the puck.

Many are noting that our Ducks have cooled somewhat. A glance at the recent record 5-6-1 Goal Differential minus 8  in the last twelve games supports the point. What the record doesn’t show is that our Ducks have been on an emotional roller coaster of late. Over this same span our guys took 2 of 3 against Dallas and beaten both the Kings and Blackhawks. In those five games that they got up for, our Ducks record is 4-1 with a Goal Differential of plus 6.

Injuries: Cam Fowler is questionable, Nick Bonino is expected back toward the middle of next week. Kings D-men Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene are out for the season.

Fowler’s absence significantly impacts the transition game. The work Scott Niedermayer has done with Cam this season is evident. While his progress isn’t showing up in goals and assists, Cam’s plus/minus has gone from minus-28 to minus-7. At least part of the reason is we spend less time in our zone when Fowler is on the ice.

With Cam out, look for the outlet/support player to be positioned closer to the puck.

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.”

Followers of this blog should be familiar with certain phrases like gap control, playing a short gap game, third man high, maintaining inside position etc. Ducks forward Daniel Winnick gives us another opportunity to discuss gap control as prepares to meet the Avs later today.

“We need to gap-up as much as we can and take time and space away from quick teams. [The Avalanche] is not the biggest team out there. Usually it kind of kills their will, in a sense.”

Here in this drill you can see gap up explained and practiced by Coach Steve Weiss and the Mississauga Rebels.  See in the live drill how the D-men gap-up to meet the oncoming opposition forward at center ice? The illustration shows the D meeting their check at the blue line. When this happens during a game announcers usually say so and so was caught flat-footed at the blue line.

The video is short, only 3:32 minutes. Checking it out will provide you quality understanding of what you’ll be seeing our Ducks attempting to do in tonight’s game.

Gap up, when combined with backside pressure traps the opposition and leads to turnovers. This is how our Ducks will look to frustrate the very fast and young Avs.

Notes: Avs Coach Joe Sacco has said J.S. Giguerre will likely start tonight. Jiggy is 2-1 against us since his trade to Toronto.
This is the second of back2back road games for the Avs who lost to the Kings last night.
Cam Fowler is cleared to play after missing 8 games following a hit by Jarrett Stoll.

This is our Ducks first game after a 5 day layoff. All eyes are looking to see if our guys can set the tempo or at least match the Avs intensity.

It’s an interesting game on many levels.

 

This one is the hot against not. Worse, the Avs remain without #1 center Ryan O’Reilly who has yet to sing a contract. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is out with what it is reported as concussion like symptoms. In another Avs surprise, Semyon Varlamov is expected to start his 9th game of the season. Backup J.S. Giguere has performed well against our Ducks since being traded to Toronto.

Were it enough that the Avs challenges ended there though. No. 1 D-man Erik Johnson has gone 7 games without a point. Six million dollar man Paul Stastney is minus-6. And if that weren’t enough, agitator Steve Downie is out for the season with a bum knee. And oh BTW, the PP is fumbling along at a dismal 9.4% efficiency rate. Winger David Jones and D-man Ryan Wilson are also out for the Avs.

Updatehttp://ducks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=654493 is reporting that 20 goal scorer David Jones will be playing in tonight’s game.

If you get the sense that our Ducks are facing a wounded bear who some think are under-achieving, props for paying attention. The Avs are one challenged hockey club right now. Despite all that, these Avs are 4-5 on the season. They obviously aren’t rolling over for anyone.

Early season stat of note is former Sharks Jamie McGinn and Daniel Winnick are off to career years. Each is second in team scoring at 5 goals.

The red-hot Ducks arrive for the first game of their longest road trip of the season. It’s a game that team’s point to as important to get the trip off on to a good start. Even casual fans are aware that the first game often dictates what happens on a road trip.
This one is especially important for our Ducks because it’s arguably the first game of the season in which our 6-1-1 Ducks are expected to win. Winning when you’re expected to win is a crucial measuring stick that differentiates between the great, good and not so good.

Cam Fowler is still day-to-day.

It isn’t difficult to get up for a game against an undefeated team or the current Stanley Cup champion. But can you bring it against a team that is struggling?

CBS Sportsline reports that our Ducks are NHL’s second best team even strength. As this blog has continually noted the Ducks territorial advantage in play, is now reflected in the stats.

Oddsmakers aren’t buying into our Ducks. Today’s line opened Ducks +105 Avs -116. Meaning you get a premium if you bet our Ducks to win. Looks like a classic trap to me. What do they know that we’re missing?

Sharks remain undefeated in regulation time but lost one a OT tilt to Nashville Saturday night. It was the third consecutive game in which San Jose was forced into overtime. The other two coming against the our Ducks and Minnesota Wild.

The Sharks seem to be tapering off after a torrid start while our surging Ducks are among the surprises in the early going of this condensed NHL season. Anybody who predicted that these Sharks and Ducks would be first and second in the Pacific Division at any time has earned a maintenance day. Sharks are four points ahead of the Ducks who have played one less game.

Seems odd to bring up the Standings before either team has played its tenth game. It would be except that in a 48 game schedule nearly 20% of the season is in the books. That’s right, I began drafting this blog’s annual 1/4 pole report over the weekend.

Every game is magnified by a multiple of nearly 2. Every game carries approximately twice the importance in a 48 game schedule as it would in a 82 game season. A four point game becomes an eight game. Lose in regulation and our Ducks fall three (6 points) games behind the Sharks with just two games remaining between the clubs.

This is what a sprint is all about.

Ducks are sporting a little different look than the team visited the Shark Tank a week ago. Coach adjusted his D pairings putting Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray together in support of the checking line. Toni Lydman and Luca Sbisa became the 3rd pairing. Upfront the Bobby Ryan to Center experiment continued though Coach put Bonino out there on the 2nd Unit PP after Bones scored his hat trick Saturday night.

Cam Fowler is listed as day-to-day after Jared Stoll’s cheap check from behind. I don’t understand why the league has refused a hearing on the hit. Maybe the NHL isn’t serious about head injuries. Maybe it’s another in the long line of official decisions that go against our Ducks. Sami Vatanen could play in his second NHL game if Fowler can’t go.

Asking 38-year-old Sheldon Souray to play three games in four nights is expecting a lot. Look for a last-minute call-up later today.

The official anti-Anaheim bias didn’t help the LA Kings Saturday night. Our guys will again have to maintain their composure to beat the Sharks. These Ducks have shown real character since the home opener. We can and will get a fair shake from the league eventually. Fact is, our Ducks have been whiners and crybabies for several seasons. A change in perception will take some time. The whining has to stop. No Ref likes to be F-bombed, and/or hear comments about their mothers, sisters and significant others or that the Ref should perform a physically impossible act upon himself. Even when the player mutters such to himself and not directly to the Ref.

Getzlaf and Perry need to stop whining!

These Ducks are showing that they can beat anybody. All they need do is give themselves the chance.