Posts Tagged ‘Devante Smith-Pelly’

Update: Following Ducks 3-2 come from behind OT win over the San Jose Sharks last night. Our Ducks are now 3-1 in the exhibition season. Two of the wins have been come from behind and one in OT. The team is establishing the habit and expectation of winning, ability to come through in the clutch and a no quit attitude.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – In A look at some intangibles published on 9/15, the post concluded with questions, including will the team come together. Yesterday, Coach Boudreau reported that he’s liking what he sees:

“There are always things you’d like to see better, but I think what we’re seeing are the signs of a team coming together.” (Emphasis added)

Team chemistry consists of two parts. There is the tactical chemistry of a well executed system and team assembled into smaller specialized units of complementary and offsetting skill sets. Additionally, there is chemistry that rises from camaraderie and bonding born of a group individuals  working to earn the respect of each other while passionately putting team first.

What Coach is saying is that the former, tactical chemistry or execution can be improved but overall the team is bonding and meshing nicely at this stage of camp.

It would be easy to write Gabby’s comment off if not for the supporting factual evidence. Coach gave nine vets the day off yesterday and to a man they took to the ice and practiced hard. Too soon for these guys to take Princess, er maintenance days.

Exemplified by John Gibson looking to redeem himself after a poor performance against the L.A. Kings, our Ducks gutted and ground out a 2-1 come from behind win against the Avs. Our guys didn’t make it easy on themselves as no Duck was even as high 50% on draws. Rickard Rakell was a woeful 5-10.

Francois Beauchemin is taking full contact in practice. You think he might ear the respect of his teammates taking full contact 4.5 months following reconstructive knee surgery?

Coach likes what he sees and the factual evidence supports him. Go Ducks!

The quote above comes to us via Adam Brady of AnaheimDucks.com

Tonight’s Game:
Phoenix @ Anaheim, 7:00pm start at the Honda Center. Audio stream available at http://ducks.nhl.com/index.html

The previous post, A look at the intangibles really begins this blog’s Ducks coverage of the 2013-14 season. If you haven’t at least skimmed it yet, you’ll be better equipped to understand this one and forthcoming posts through training camp.

At first blush, swapping out Daniel Winnick from the “checking line” for Emerson Etem would indicate a slightly different role for Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano. It ain’t necessarily so. All three forwards are proven penalty killers and defensively responsible. The move should improve scoring from the checking line. As Coach noted, “Their speed will give opposing teams fits.” Some sandpaper is sacrificed but Etem’s overall toughness shouldn’t be underrated.
The skill sets are complimentary. As noted all are defensively responsible and great skaters. Koivu and Cogliano are decent playmakers and finishers. Etem is a promising sniper.

One move this blogger has been waiting for and referenced here previously more than once is trying Daniel Winnick at center. Now wwe understand why that hasn’t happened until now.  “We wanted to try this last year, but there was just never a break, and we didn’t want to throw him into the fire.” Boudreau added, “He’s going to stay there for a while, at center, during the preseason,”
With Patrick Maroon and Devante Smith-Pelly on the wings, Winnick could well result in a very physical Stopper Line reminiscent of Pahlsson, Niedermayer & Moen.
Memo to fourth line center hopefuls Peter Holland, Rickard Rakell and Antoine Laganiere: Pick it up a notch!

Notice we have comments from Coachevidencing his thinking on the aforementioned opportunities. Now for one that isn’t being talked about in the blogs or reported on by mainstream media:

Where does Kyle Palmieri fit? Is he Bobby Ryan 2.0? The guy we never find a spot for and instead move him around and ask him to spark whatever line he happens to be on that shift? Jeez, I hope not.
In the early going at least Dustin Penner hasn’t played himself off the top line. Bones, Flash and Silfver are developing chemistry and producing results. The 3rd and 4th lines could be set.
Palmieri has earned more than a 4th line role. He’s aiming to become The Twins linemate. To earn that plum he’ll have to prove himself better than Penner and overcome locker room politics. Not an easy task for a guy who has only recently established his NHL cred.
Boudreau wouldn’t reveal his lineup for tomorrow’s preseason opener against Phoenix (7 p.m., Honda Center), but said “we’ve got the first three games mapped out, in a perfect world, and all seven games mapped out for the goalies.”

Note to credentialed local media: The only reason we don’t have an answer to, “Where Palmieri fits” is because you aren’t asking the question. Aside to readers: Credentialed media claims the main reason for lost audience is increased competition. Just once I’d like them to consider the quality of their reportage.

Note to me: Exhale ;)

Three of the above quotes can be found in this report by Kyle Shohara of AnaheimDucks.com.

Ducks have some interesting parts and pieces. Everybody makes tangible and intangible contributions. This post is about the latter. In this post we’ll identify some of those intangibles and pose the question; Can this Ducks team come together and realize it’s potential?

After a great short season, our Ducks entered the playoffs with great expectations that were quickly dashed by the Detroit Red Wings in a thrilling series. Consequently, Coach Boudreau has defined this campaign as “Unfinished Business.” It’s a great goal defining mantra designed to motivate the players both individually and collectively. Identifying Bruce Boudreau’s most impactful intangible is so easy. It’s his humanity.

To understand the humanity in Gabby take a look at how he honors 9/11.

Gabby’s personal unfinished business is playoff success and get the most from his own personal OT game.

You could have knocked me over with a feather as I read Francois Beauchemin will probably start the season just 4.5 months following reconstructive knee surgery. Beauch is the kind of man whose respect other men aspire to earn. This man played through serious injury to become included in the Norris Trophy conversation. A feat even more amazing when one considers Beauchemin isn’t unanimously considered a top pairing D-man. He’s also not thought of as a heart and soul player though his heart and soul is his greatest single intangible contribution to the team.

Ducks best players, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are just entering their prime. Getz having earned his way into the Hart Trophy nomination. Pears has already earned the MVP award.
Bob Murray, at the urging of the Ducks captain, has reunited The Twins with their Cup team line-mate, Dustin Penner. Pancake appears committed to get a career that seemed to waiver off track during his two seasons with the Kings. Will returning to Anaheim do for Penner what it did for Teemu Selanne?
What was once the Kid Line on our Ducks Cup team is now Top Line expected to lead the team back into the elite of the league.

There’s also a very impressive veteran contingent led by Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. They will be joined at mid-season by Sheldon Souray. The contributions made by this group reaches far beyond their combined stats. They lead by example and the shared wisdom accumulated through a combined half century of NHL experience.

Ducks have a couple-3 other vets, Andrew Cogliano, Daniel Winnick and Bryan Allen who play an accountable and responsible brand of hockey. Cogs is an NHL Iron Man who can play all three forward positions and in any situation. He is our Ducks Swiss army knife. Contributions of Winnick and Allen are best measured in the reluctance of opposing players to battle position or the biscuit.

The cherry may well be the youth contingent that is made up of 8 guys well positioned to take the loosely defined next step in their respective careers.
Cam Fowler, Nick Bonino, Jakub Silfverberg and Kyle Palmieri. All four are counted upon to make significant offensive contributions.
Level-headed and well grounded, Emerson Etem will continue to play ES and PK. He will have to start scoring to earn PP time.
Peter Holland, Patrick Maroon and Sami Vatanen will be given an opportunity to establish themselves as bonafide NHL players.
If there’s one guy who needs to play with desperation, it’s Luca Sbisa. Only 23, Luca has 5 NHL seasons and 236 regular season games behind him. In all that time he hasn’t established himself as much more than a 3rd pairing, spot played D-man. It wasn’t that long ago many of Bob Murray’s Kool-Aid drinkers were predicting Sbisa would make us forget Chris Pronger. He doesn’t need to be great but he does need to become consistently accountable and responsible.

The aforementioned 8 most represent the affirmation “Unfinished Business.” They bring the naivety, passion and energy of youth.

Vying for spot duty are role players Matt Beleskey, Mark Fistric, Devante Smith-Pelly and Brad Staubitz.

Backing the guys up is arguably the best goalie tandem in the NHL. Each of Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have earned the trust and respect of their teammates. Having trust in your goaltenders is quite possibly the single most impactful intangible benefit.

Steve Whitney has been catching the eye of many bloggers early in camp. Speed is eye-catching and Whitney floats around the rink at mach speed. He isn’t likely to make the show this year. Conversely, Rickard Rakell has failed to make a positive impression anyone during the first half week.

These Ducks might well be a year or 3 away from finishing their unfinished business. They do have a broad range of complimentary skill sets on the roster. Additionally, they have depth to replace the various parts lost to retirement or diminished skills internally.

In this sense, these Ducks are organizationally structured similarly to our Cup winning team that prospered with 9 sophomores on the roster.

We may have even finally replaced Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer though it will have taken 5 D-men to do it. Fowler and Vatanen for Nieds and Souray, Beauchemin and Allen for Pronger.

The talent is there for these Ducks to push themselves into NHL elite status. The questions are; will it all come together? Will they remain healthy? Will they peak in the playoffs?

Arguably the most competitive training camp in Ducks recent history is set to open Thursday. There are 56 players who received invitations though two, Sheldon Souray and Andrew O’Brien are injured. Most are getting a taste of NHL competition and will be gone long before the season opener on October 2.

Among the 56 include, 6 goalies, 17 D and 33 forwards. One name you might recognize is NHL journeyman Garnet Exelby. He hasn’t played in the NHL since appearing in 51 games for the 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs.  Exelby is here on Professional Try Out (PTO) contract. Realistically, the hard-nosed Xman is auditioning for a two-way contract.

At center Ducks have an opening. The leading candidates are Peter Holland and Rickard Rakell. One or both of Antoine Laganiere or William Karlsson could make the decision difficult. Rakell could also get a look on wing.

Ducks are stacked on the wings and have quality players competing for four openings. The Twins, Bonino-Selanne need a winger and there are the two fourth line jobs up for grabs. Checking line wingers and PK specialists Daniel Winnick and Andrew Cogliano are likely set as top nine role players. The leading candidates for the openings include Dustin Penner, Jakub Silfverberg, Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, Matt Beleskey, Patrick Maroon and Brad Staubitz. The latter two are on one way contracts. Other notables who could earn serious consideration include Devante Smith-Pelly, Max Friberg, Steve Whitney and Nicolas Kerdiles.

Via Jim Hodges, Virginian-Pilot, correspondent:

“From a contract standpoint, there isn’t a lot of room,” notes Coach Boudreau, “But if a guy comes in and stands out, you have to take a look at him,” no matter what kind of contract the player has, Boudreau added.

On the backline Ducks are looking to replace the retired Toni Lydman. Injuries to Sheldon Souray and Francois Beauchemin could necessitate extra long looks for a couple of youngsters. Sami Vatanen is the leading candidate to earn a top six spot. Cam Fowler, Ben Lovejoy, Bryan Allen and Luca Sbisa are the healthy incumbents. Newly signed veteran journeyman Mark Fistric is a serviceable depth D-man.

Barring injury, Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth will start the season in net. Frederick Anderson, John Gibson and Igor Bobkov are look at Norfolk with odd man out dropping to the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL. Etienne Marcoux is in camp on an Amateur Try Out (ATO) and could earn a spot in the org with a strong showing.

Due to one-way contracts signed with Brad Staubitz and Patrick Maroon, Ducks will start the season with a 23 man roster made up of 14 forwards, 7 D-men and 2 goalies.

All camp invitees report today for medical checkup.

Most winning hockey teams have a positive goal differential. Winning teams score more goals than they give up. Last season our Ducks overall goal differential was -22. Goal differential is such a key stat it usually dictates the standings. Test it yourself. About mid-season, every season, you’ll see the standings fall in line with overall goal differential. No need to get fancy and subtract empty netters and PP goals. Just go with the overall goal differential.

Structurally there won’t be much difference from last season. Count on our guys to lose more faceoffs than they win. Most often our Ducks have to win back possession. East/West puck movement D2D will again be less than smooth with six lefties out there.

On the upside the additions of Winnick, Allen and Souray will make the team much more physical. Losing George Parros and picking up Brad Staubitz is a push. This added toughness though will translate into increased puck possession. That doesn’t guaranty more goals necessarily but should produce more opportunities.

Last season our guys produced 201 goals, good for 23rd overall. We gave up 224 for 19th in overall GA.

This must be reversed if our Ducks are to make the postseason.

The bright spot should be a very underrated transition from defense to offense from the backline. Cam Fowler has already shown himself to be a great up and coming puck moving Dman. Underrated though, Beauchemin, Lydman, Allen & Sbisa can all make a good first pass or lug the biscuit up a lane. Sheldon Souray has a rep for making the occasional bad pass.

Coach Boudreau calls short passes or give and goes, “Shares.” Look for our Ducks to have an outlet guy near the puck. Offensively this is a significant  difference between Gabby and Coach Carlyle. One player battles for the biscuit while the next nearest is in a support position. It’s after that first share when  you’ll see the guys spread out East/West with one breaking North/South or up ice. In your mind’s eye, think of the wingers and D forming a box that expands and contracts.

Coach Boudreau likes up tempo hockey. Some pundits are asking if he’ll do for Cam Fowler what he did for Mike Green in Washington. We’ll see but as our best puck moving Dman Fowler has to return to  double-digit scoring and 40 pts on the board that he produced as a rookie.

As far as roster spots go, Coach has 3 decisions to make. (1) Who skates alongside the Twins, (2) Building a line and 2nd unit PP around Bobby Ryan opens two jobs, (3) Teemu alongside Saku Koivu is no longer a lock.

Getzlaf and Perry have to return to point a game or better players. If they do somebody other than Bobby Ryan will benefit as their new LW. Candidates include Devante Smith-Pelly, Patrick Maroon will get a look, as well as usual suspects Matt Beleskey, Daniel Winnick and Kyle Palmieri. My sleeper to land that spot is Andrew Cogliano.

With either Souray and Allen backing him up, Getz doesn’t have to the lone big guy out there. I sense he really misses Chris Pronger. With another big guy on the ice, Coach will have the opportunity to inject some much-needed speed alongside The Twins.

Three consecutive years I’ve predicted Bobby Ryan breaks the 40 goal barrier. At risk of proving Einstein’s definition of DUH, I’ll stick with it. This time out the rational is Coach builds the 2nd unit PP around and gives them enough TOI to produce.

As Ryan’s possible center Nick Bonino presents an interesting scenario. Last I checked Bones was averaging 3 pts per game in Italy. While it’s doubtful he could achieve in the ECHL, the experience should do great things for his confidence. Peter Holland will challenge Bones for the job and may win it out right at camp. If not, look for Coach to use a quick hook and rotate guys in and out.

Teemu alongside Saku Koivu isn’t a lock this season. More likely, Koivu and Winnick anchor the third line while mentoring a rookie or sophomore.  It’s an ideal spot for Kyle Palmieri.

Coach Boudreau likes to roll 4 lines. If Bonino beats out Holland look for Branden McMillan to center the line. Wingers are likely to be Matt Beleskey and Brad Staubitz.

With so many unsettled roster questions it’s hard to make even a guesstimate on our Ducks offense. If, if, if. Jeez, if the kids start popping consistently and a second scoring line and 2nd unit PP is built around Ryan, lookout, cookout.

If not and Ryan remains as streaky as ever. The Twins get smothered facing the leagues best defenders. The 1st unit PP falters and that fast we’re looking at a minus goal differential.

If you’re thinking how critical it is for the team to come together, you get it.

The good news is that with Hiller between the pipes, they’ll get a chance.

Eric “Ice” Stephens version of the Bobby Ryan “Trade me”  Story is a twist on Shakes’ Much Ado About Nothing. It works nicely by Ice telling. To retell it in a “me too” piece from Jeff Miller is a yawn. It’s okay to rip a story from Ice but jeez Louise in the same week? Just shows Ducks bloggers and corporate media are desperate for stories.

HockeyBuzz Hotstove: Projecting the Pacific Division is as good as it gets. and worse the message board is way better than the Travis Yost blog on it.

It’s okay Travis, I know exactly what it’s like to follow the so-called followers, but I digress.

Most have our Ducks do in the heretofore referenced blog is 4th and missing the playoffs. One guy, Troutback has our guys finishing 3rd in the Pacific because, “Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan combo can only be better.”

My take is (1) the team D will be better. The combination of Souray and Allen could give us something approximating Chris Pronger. Sheldon Souray is the flat-out nastiest competitor to arrive in the slot since Richard Matvichuk called it a career. What Souray does while not getting caught is complimented by Bryan Allen’s playing well within the written and unwritten rules of the game. Toss in an improved Luca Sbisa, a healthy Toni Lydman and the effectively abrasive Francois Beauchemin and you got a D that will bring a wry to the mug of Jonas Hiller. Add to that Daniel Winnick and Saku Koivu bring the smarts and high Hockey IQ.

Your Ducks 2012-13 edition is one tough and smart team to play against.

In Perry, Ryan, Selanne and Getzlaf our Ducks should be able to spread 145 goals across two lines. If Coach finds the right mix, sophomores and rookies Nick Bonino, Devante Smith-Pelly, Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem and/or Pete Holland all could shine in the right role with the right vet support around them.

Consider Ducks at ES:

Getzlaf 20-Smith-Pelly 15-Perry 45/Beauchemin 5-Fowler 10 (95 goals)
Holland 15-Ryan 40-Selanne 25/Allen 5 – Sbisa 5(90 goals)
Koivu 15-Winnick 10 -Palmieri 15/Lydman – Souray (55 goals)
Bonino-Belleskey-Staubitz. (10-15 goals)

You can toss the stats when it comes to goalies. Three things matter, (1) Does teh goalie consistently make saves at key moments during the game, (2) Does the goalie give the team a chance to win most nights. Actually, 1& 2 are about the same thing. If Hiller and Fasth are making the timely saves, they’ll give our Ducks a chance to win most nights, (3) Can the goalie steal two points a time or two throughout the season.

For stat lovers, if Hiller plays more than 60 games, 75% of the minutes and his SP is north of .915, pretty much all of the above is more likely than not.

In this lineup, Etem is the odd man out but he’s first call-up to replace a Top 6 forward. He may also cause Devante to be demoted and Palmieri to Norfolk. Patrick Maroon and/or Rickard Rakell could surprise as well. Cory Elkins is a solid insurance addition.

The D and goaltending is set. The openings up top are wing alongside Getz & Pears. Bobby Ryan’s center and 4th line center. The two positions to watch when camp opens are wing alongside the Twins and Silver’s center. Once those positions are won, the rest falls into place.

The key to the above lineup is that each rookie and sophomore is playing with vets around him. Likewise no vet is asked to carry a rookie and a sophomore.

If this team can come together it could match what the 2010-11 Ducks achieved. H0pefully, they’ll go deeper than a six game 1st round series. I’m not saying it will but it could, if most things go right.

Note: Today is the 17th of August. We’re about a week away from when the guys start showing up for what Chris Pronger described as “dipsy doodle stuff.”  Prongs hated that week or two before camp which is essentially pond or no contact hockey. If players are slow coming in, expect a lockout on the 15th.

CSNWashington caught up with Gabby at his hockey school in St. Catherines. Here’s the link if you want to skip my babble and get straight to it.

Here are the hilites:

CSNW: WHAT ABOUT THE ROSTER MAKEUP?

BB: Well, I love our goalie [Jonas Hiller]. We have some good youth on defense along with some good veterans. We’ve gotten bigger and we’ve also gotten a little deeper [with the additions of Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen this offseason] so it will be easier to adjust to injuries.

Up front we’ve still got Bobby Ryan, Teemu [Selanne], Corey [Perry] and [Ryan] Getzlaf. What we’ve also done [this offseason] is we’ve added veteran third and fourth liners [Daniel Winnick and Brad Staubitz] which we never had last year so now we’ve got some pretty good depth. When you add all of those things together, hopefully we’ll make some noise in the West.

Yes our Ducks could make some noise because this roster is much closer to resembling the roster that earned 4th seed and home ice advantage in the 2011 playoff. We’re tougher and as Gabby notes, we have depth.

FAN QUESTION: WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE AS A FIRST LINE- OVECHKIN-BACKSTROM-SEMIN OR PERRY-GETZLAF-RYAN? (@TheBusinessOfCrappiness)

BB: Well, they’re different kinds of players. For the most part the Anaheim [No.1] line is missing a piece. Bobby Ryan I didn’t play as much with Perry and Getzlaf so that top line isn’t as complete as it maybe was in Washington with a Semin or a [Troy] Brouwer or [two or three seasons ago] a Mike Knuble playing with Alex and Nicky.

But whether they play together or not, [Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan] are all gamers, they come to play every night, they play both ends of the ice and they’re all really good players. There’s a reason why Corey Perry won the Hart [Trophy as league MVP in 2010-11] and there’s a reason why Getzlaf is a captain and why he’s wanted by everybody even though he didn’t score a lot of goals last year (a career-low 11 goals in 82 games). But he’s similar to Nicky- a fabulous passer and a little bit of a bigger centerman.

Is Coach saying Getz is what he is and don’t expect him to change his game?

Corey Perry doesn’t have the charisma that Ovi has, but he certainly has the compete level so I think [in Washington and Anaheim] we’re both searching right now for that other winger to complete a top line.

That we haven’t found a consistent spot and role for Bobby Ryan in his four years with the team is just wrong. Regardless Silver has done everything asked of him. Now, finally, he’ll be expected to anchor a line and the 2nd unit PP. This is about 2 years overdue but better late than never.
The decision opens up 3 roster spots. First is LW on the top line and two vying to be Bobby Ryan’s line mates.
Coach has lots of options:
Look for one of Andrew Cogliano, Devante Smith-Pelly, Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri or Patrick Maroon alongside Getz/Pears. Holland or Bonino and one of the above wingers will lineup alongside Silver.
If the kids can’t hang with Ryan, look for him to step in with Koivu/Selanne while we create a checking line on Bonino/Winnick.

FAN QUESTION: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE FOUR CAPABLE CENTERS IN ANAHEIM? (@robostop10)

BB: We have depth up the middle and that’s important. I like our centermen a lot and we have options for next season. [Last year’s No.2 center] Saku Koivu is going to be our third line center next year and he’ll be a solid checking center that can score. It’s an important position, and an important position to have options. Like I said, we still want to find a winger, but I like our centers, for sure.

The two keys up the middle are Holland and McMillan. Bones is ready as a checking line center at minimum. Is Holland ready to step in on the Ryan line? If not, Bonino centers Ryan, Holland starts in Norfolk and a hopefully humble McMillan or perhaps Cogliano will center a line.
Winnick and Cogliano are the usual leading suspects to line up with the Finn Twins.
A notion I find intriguing is pairing Cogs with Getz/Pears. A couple-3 years ago RC tried Dan Sexton there in training camp and the results raised eyebrows. It could work if Getzlaf played more of a slot to slot game while Cogliano is the guy who chases down the pucks and buys time on the perimeter.
For a kinder look at Getzlaf go here. I disagree with the premise but not the facts, most good players rebound from off years, especially in a contract year. I was kind of surprised Joe Sakic didn’t make that list. If Getz gets back to 25 goals and 82 points, I’ll forgive the face offs, giveaways and stupid penalties.