The twins were split up! That was the big news on Saturday as the Ducks went down 5-1 against San Jose after dropping a weak and uncoordinated effort to Chicago on Friday last. The reason Getzlaf and Perry were playing on different lines? To get them going, of course. And it worked, because they came out and scored three goals between them in an eventual 6-4 loss with the last enemy goal going into the empty net.
The loss came with a second loss—Jason LaBarbera, the ever-capable backup who was, in fact, inserted into the game after watching counterpart Frederik Andersen pulled for the third time in nine games. LaBarbera took a shot, apparently, off the right arm or wrist and was listed as having an upper body injury, which might (wink, wink) have been what I just indicated since, after all, he appeared in the press box on Monday with Boston in town wearing a brace on the wrist.
Boston? That’s a team from the East, right? Yeah, and they’re on the punishing West Coast road trip that has been the bane of other teams from back there. And if it’s not bad enough that they have to face Anaheim and LA in order, then how about doing it back to back? Monday, Tuesday, the first of December and second—those are the dates the Bruins challenge the SoCal teams. They’ll then have San Jose Thursday and Arizona Friday. Yowza!
They started well in their quest to take eight points on the week. They came out charged up, and they took the game to the Ducks. In the first period, they doubled up the Anaheim team in terms of shots, 13-7.
What’s wrong with the Ducks? Same thing that was wrong all last week—no defense. They’ve got four of their best defensemen on IR, including Beauchemin, Fistric, Lovejoy, and Stoner. The latter is the closest to returning, according to the OC paper. His malady—mumps. Fistric has a long-running back problem. And the other two have fractured digits. That’s fingers, kids and neither will be back all that soon, though Lovejoy is skating. He’s just not able to shoot or pass the puck. He can handle it, however. Beauchemin is one week into a four- to six-week furlough after being struck with a puck against Calgary.
So the defense, as it has been for the past week, or two, or month, was a cobbled-together collection of three rookies and a few others, including newcomer Eric Brewer. Thus far, he has been used rather less than he might be, getting 15 minutes in his first game and 21 Monday, in his second.
The lines for the Ducks were more or less back to whatever passes for normal these days, with Getzlaf and Perry working with Beleskey and the second unit of Kessler, Bourque, and Palmieri getting a decent amount of ice time. Scratched were Rickard Rakell at center and Jesse Blacker, a rookie defenseman.
Frederik Andersen, who had an amazing game Friday and got zero help, made a couple of mistakes versus the Bruins. He punched pucks into the slot on rebounds, getting away with it at times and not at others. The “not” included on the Bruins’ first goal, which came at 10:20 of period two. Pastrnak was wide left with the puck, and he took a shot. Andersen put his paddle down and inexplicably directed the rebound right into the slot, which was filled with Marchand. He had an open net to fire back into, and so, being a professional hockey player, that’s what he did. Andersen would later redeem himself with 32 saves and end up being the game’s first star. But that’s getting ahead of the story.
The pressure the Boston team mounted in the first period had the Ducks confused. It wasn’t so much back on their heels, because the Bruins didn’t pin them in their own end. Instead, the Ducks ran around, out of position, allowing Boston to hold the puck and set up on angles for shots. This kept up into the second, and Andersen was solid, except for the aforementioned gaffe.
So how did the game end up 2-1 for the Ducks after two periods? Anaheim started going to the front of the net in period two. They took 11 shots, still bested by Boston’s 15, and they put in a goal with 22 seconds to play, a spirit-killer. It went in, like their first, because they were in front of the net.
The Ducks’ third goal was nothing of the sort. It came off a faceoff, won by Getzlaf between his legs and wristed to the net by Beleskey. It went right past Lucic, next to his arm, and over the glove of Rask, which was outstretched. Beleskey set a personal season best with this, his 12th goal. And there’s lots of time to get more. About his play and whether he’s found a home with Perry and Getzlaf, the coach said, “Home? With our team, there’s never a home. A couple of tents are up.” He went on to point out that many others have played with these two guys. He forgot to mention that Bobby Ryan played with Getzlaf and Perry for a long, long while. Credit goes to Charles Smith of Official Inside Sports for noticing that.
The Bruins got one back about midway through period three. The Ducks had iced the puck and thus couldn’t change. Paille beat Vatanen and put the puck to the front of the net, where Gagne banged it in. It was more or less the fulfillment of a Boston beat writer’s wish, as he had been wondering in the paper whether that line, the fourth, was going to get contributing. This after Gagne took a while to get up to speed in the season after having been hurt and missing all of last year.The goal was his second of the year thus far.
The momentum by this point was swung toward the Ducks, and the stats showed it. They outshot Boston 10-6 in the third period. Coach Boudreau explained: “I thought it was our best third period in a while, even though they had pressure. We weren’t sitting back. We weren’t collapsing.”
He added that the team is trying to get back to their grinding, physical style. However, “the league is pretty fast, and our best is along the boards and down beneath the circles. When we’re doing that, we’re getting scoring opportunities. It was good tonight.”
The game ended with Boston’s goalie out, each team taking late timeouts, and the Ducks icing the puck with 1.1 seconds left. Nothing changed, and Anaheim gained two points to Boston’s none. As said, the Bruins get another chance Tuesday. The Ducks wait until Wednesday to take on Philly. Then it’s away for two before being back for Edmonton. Then once more on the road, a long trip this time, five games.
Christmas shopping made easy: Buy my new book, Facing Wayne Gretzky. Cam Neely, for you Boston fans, is interviewed there.
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The Ducks have a couple of potential injuries, but the coach said that he’s got guys “sore” and will know better tomorrow whether there’s anything to be concerned about other than bumps and bruises.