Wild Wing, mascot of the Anaheim Ducks.

What’s Left for Ducks?

The Anaheim Ducks have bent to the curve on the incident on Friday night when Jay Beagle beat the stuffing out of Troy Terry after Trevor Zegras started a scrum by poking at the goalie’s pad when he covered a puck with Anaheim ahead by a handful of goals.

Witness the shift in rhetoric. During their last broadcast game, Monday, it was, “Oh Jay Beagle should have recognized an unwilling combatant.” “This is a head injury case, and the league should investigate.” “This is suspend-able, and Beagle should at least have a hearing with the NHL.”

All bullcrap. The people who actually know hockey, and I agee with them and wrote as much in the early part of the week, said essentially this: Terry wandered into a situation, and he should have been able to forecast the outcome. When you signal, “Let’s fight,” even if you don’t drop your gloves, guess what? You’re gonna fight. And if you in fact don’t drop ‘em, you’re just asking to get the $H9% beat out of you, which is what happened. Who said this? Well, I did. And so did Rick Tochett on NHL radio, and Ryan Callahan, also on the satellite radio, and others. I’ll count myself a proud member of that company.

Well, the Ducks have learned. Listen to Trevor Zegras before Wednesday’s game versus Calgary, and you’ll hear the reversal: “I was fine with everything that happened. I just thought, just a little too much at the end there, but that’s hockey. Wires crossed. I’ve definitely moved on. We’ve moved on as a team, just looking forward to tonight.” Lucky for the, Troy Terry’s eye has also moved on, and he was in the lineup Wednesday night with Calgary in town.

I did confess that Zegras has become my favorite hockey playing human for the way he treated the CHOC patient kid before the prior game, and I stand by that, and I’m glad to hear that the bullhickey that came out of his and his team’s mouthes late last week
has reversed. It deserved scrutiny, and such examination yields one thing—someone sat these Ducks down and explained the NHL’s unwritten code to them.

Did they get it? The proof would be in the game with the Flames.

What happened in the game? Well, Getzlaf, having announced his retirement on Tuesday, to take effect after the April 24 game versus St. Louis, wasn’t in. The first line was Terry, Zegras, and Henrique. That line didn’t do much, nor did any other for the Ducks, as the Flames came out and got the first goal, and ended the first period up by that goal. Much of the action was in the Ducks’ end, and they posed no significant threat to Calgary in the frame, which ended 1-0 Calgary.

Period two saw the Ducks and Flames each get a goal. Remember, this was a home game for the Ducks, and the fact that Trevor and company learned their lesson in the Terry beat-down was evident in the muted celebration of the Zegras goal. No big gestures. No “I’m a hero,” Zegras just raised his arms halfway and beckoned his line mates in, quite subtly. Lesson learned and message delivered.

The Flames having scored their second goal prior to this one, this made the game 2-1, and it came off the heels of a horrible, no-offense Ducks PP. The man advantage had ended 17 seconds prior to Zegras’s goal. The period concluded with Calgary having outshot Anaheim 7-5 and totaling 18-17, Anaheim’s favor. The action, which at one point stretched several minutes without a whistle, was about as unstimulating as that stat suggests.

Period three was just about equally inept by the Ducks. The shots were 11-9 in Calgary’s favor, and what action there was essentially focused on the Flames as well. The best Ducks’ chance came when Milano zipped a pass out to Henrique, who could not elevate the puck on goal.

Calgary went ahead 3-1 on a Michael Stone goal, and saw the Ducks come back to 3-2 on a Henrique goal. Calgary iced the game with an empty-net goal with just over half a minute left. The Ducks never looked to be a serious threat, playing around the edges all night long.

Was this an aftermath of the Terry situation? Was it the result of knowing their leader, Captain Getzlaf, was just a shadow figure now, and would be gone in a matter of days? That’s for the future to decide, and nothing’s at stake now. Zegras said before the game that he was just happy to have the chance to be a teammate with this player. “To me, he is the Anaheim Ducks, and I’m just thankful to be a teammate of his for a couple of years,” Zegras said. To account for Anaheim’s record, he explained that his team often came out slow and then left things slip late, with John Gibson making the difference in the middle of games.

With Getzlaf gone, what questions remain for this young Ducks team? Who will slot into the lineup in the last dozen games? Who will later be captain? Who will fill that dominant center spot? That’s probably someone from outside. And don’t forget that any call-ups from San Diego deplete that team’s larder, though they are currently on the bubble for the playoff, and that’s a slightly hopeful look at things.

Notes
The Ducks now play at Philly on Saturday.

The Flames play in San Jose on Thursday and Seattle on Saturday.

Brian Kennedy is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. He wrote Growing Up Hockey and a handful of other books.