Category Archives: Anaheim Ducks Store

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The Anaheim Ducks announced today that they three skaters will miss time due to injuries.

Troy Terry will miss approximately 10 weeks after suffering a broken bone below his kneecap. He took a knee-to-knee hit during the Flyers game yesterday in the second period and had to be helped off the ice. Terry had eight points (3G, 5A) in 33 games this season. The 22-year-old suffered a broken leg injury late last season that caused him to miss significant time as well.

The club also announced that Derek Grant would miss 4-6 weeks with sprain to his AC (shoulder) joint. No surgery is required, but the injury will force the Ducks to replace Grant on the 4th line as well as on the penalty kill and on the power play. Grant has had a career season so far with nine goals on the year. It is unclear how he suffered the injury.

Finally, Jacob Larsson was announced as day-to-day with an unspecified upper body injury.

To help fill the roster spots, the Ducks earlier today recalled left winger Max Jones and center Isac Lundestrom with the already present Sam Carrick filling in for Grant on the 4th line.

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Heading into the contest with four points out of a possible eight on this four-game road trip, the New York Rangers were hoping to avoid being stymied by yet another bottom feeder in the NHL.

With the Rangers looking to finish a long road trip on a high, Henrik Lundqvist got the start between the pipes while Marc Staal was also in the lineup despite taking a puck to the ankle in the win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

And it was a dream start for the Blueshirts who landed the first blow of the night just seconds in after Mika Zibanejad took full advantage of a horrendous turnover in the Anaheim zone.

It only got better as Artemi Panarin unleashed a wicked snipe minutes later to put the Rangers firmly in the driving seat early.

Anaheim were not going down without a fight, though, as Jakob Silfverberg tipped in a Hampus Lindholm shot on the man advantage, despite the Ducks coming into the game with the second worst power play in the NHL.

A bad read from Lundqvist allowed Anaheim to make it a tied game early in the second period, and it was now on the Rangers to try to muster up a response to that setback.

The game was plagued by mistakes with both teams being riddled by errors, and it made for a crazy, disjointed contest that was dominated by turnovers and odd-man rushes.

However, the Rangers recorded a big goal inside the opening two minutes of the third period as Zibanejad took full advantage of a stellar feed from Tony DeAngelo to put his team back on top again.

Despite dominating large chunks of the final period, the Blueshirts were forced into overtime after Hampus Lindholm got a shot past Lundqvist in the final couple of minutes.

In the overtime, Zibanejad came closest as he pulled off a filthy move only to be denied by Gibson, and that ensured this contest went to a shootout.

And it was Zibanejad who scored the only goal for the Rangers in the shootout, with efforts from Ondrej Kase and Jakob Silfverberg enough to win the game for the Anaheim Ducks.

First Period – We mentioned in our Keys to the game segment in our preview that getting off to a fast, hard start today was going to be key.

Well, it seemed that the New York Rangers were paying attention because they wasted no time in striking first.

With just 10 seconds having passed, Ryan Getzlaf attempted to make a play in his own zone but his pass went straight to Mika Zibanejad who charged in on goal before switching to his backhand in order to beat John Gibson.

Henrik Lundqvist was called into action as he stopped shots from Josh Mahura and Hampus Lindholm, before it got even worse for the home team.

Another sloppy play in their own zone, this time by Gibson, cost the Ducks as Artemi Panarin got hold of the puck before unleashing a wicked wrister past the Anaheim goalie at 3:59.

Lundqvist was being tested a fair amount as he twice denied Cam Fowler, although he was beaten at 8:53 as Jakob Silfverberg converted on the power play to make it a one goal game at 8:53.

The Rangers then had a chance on the power play themselves but couldn’t make this one count after previously going 4-10 on the road trip, while Lundqvist made a big save on Sam Steel.

Anaheim survived another scary moment as the Rangers generated another high-danger chance, before Gibson had to come up big to thwart Brett Howden at the end of the period as the Blueshirts held a slight advantage on the shot board (11-10).

Second Period – Like the Rangers did in the first period, the Anaheim Ducks came out flying in the middle frame.

And it was a mistake by Henrik Lundqvist that presented the Ducks with a chance to make it a tied game at 1:02 as the goalie was overly aggressive in coming out, leaving a wide open net for Erik Gudbranson to stick the puck into an empty net.

It was a sloppy game of hockey with both teams guilty of being careless with the puck, in addition to not executing passes properly.

As a result, the game was up for grabs and Anaheim nearly got on the board next as Ryan Getzlaf chucked the puck on net, only for Lundqvist to make a big stop to keep out the puck with his left pad.

And Lundqvist had to keep coming up big as he kept out a wrister from Erik Gudbranson, before denying Sam Steel on a breakaway.

Marc Staal was given two minutes for slashing in the process, although the Rangers did a good job of killing that power play off.

Another Ducks power play, another turnover and another odd-man rush led to another chance for the home team, but again Lundqvist came up clutch with a glove save on Troy Terry.

The Rangers then had a chance on the rush themselves but Kaapo Kakko put too much power on his dish and Artemi Panarin fanned on the shot.

Panarin then forced a stop from John Gibson with what was a rare Rangers shot as they were outshot 18-3 in a horrible, mistake-riddled second period.

Brendan Lemieux put a shot over the net before Brady Skjei pulled off a brilliant defensive play in his own zone as the second period thankfully came to a close.

Third Period – The Rangers have done a good job of responding well to setbacks this year and they were at it again early in the final period.

At just 1:14, Mika Zibanejad latched onto a sublime pass from Tony DeAngelo before putting the puck through John Gibson for his second goal of the game, in addition to his fifth goal in his last four games.

It was a big goal and the mission for the Blueshirts was to build on it and go and get the job done in the remaining minutes.

Henrik Lundqvist made a flurry of important stops as the Ducks pressed for a way back into the contest, before it was Gibson’s turn to bat away a plethora of shots as the Rangers turned the screw.

Filip Chytil and Pavel Buchnevich were both denied in quick succession, as was Greg McKegg, and the Blueshirts were certainly flexing their attacking muscles.

New York was outshooting the Ducks 12-7 after registering just three shots on goal in the second period, but Gibson was doing his best impression of a brick wall as he stopped another Buchnevich shot.

Lundqvist was atoning for his earlier error by standing on his head down the stretch, although the Rangers didn’t do themselves any favors after gifting the Ducks a power play with 3:11 to play.

However, the Blueshirts couldn’t keep the Ducks at bay and it was a tied game with 1:46 to play after Hampus Lindholm squeezed a shot past Lundqvist.

Overtime – The New York Rangers had the puck for most of overtime, although they couldn’t find a way past John Gibson.

Adam Fox waltzed all the way up the ice as he was left with plenty of open space to attack, but he couldn’t force the puck past Gibson.

Mika Zibanejad pulled off a filthy move to deke a defenseman before unleashing a shot on goal, only to be denied by the Anaheim goalie with the game going to a shootout.

Shootout – Artemi Panarin went first but he couldn’t beat John Gibson, while Henrik Lundqvist executed a pokecheck to prevent his fellow countryman Rickard Rakell from scoring.

It was then Mika Zibanejad’s turn and, as he had done all night, the forward got the job done to give the Rangers the lead in the shootout.

Lundqvist made another save to thwart Max Comtois before Tony DeAngelo was also denied, while Ondrej Kase beat Lundqvist.

The Rangers needed Kaapo Kakko to convert on his effort but he couldn’t, and that allowed Jakob Silfverberg to score the game winner.

Let’s look at some notes from the game…

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There’s been a lot of talk about Ryan Getzlaf and him increasing his shots per game this season under Dallas Eakins. At face value, he’s scored more goals than we fans would expect and is on pace for 30 goals on the year. A mark he’s only hit once (2013-2014) in his career with the Anaheim Ducks. This would naturally seem like a good thing and thus the praise has been forthcoming for the player and the coach who has gotten through to him. More is better right? Maybe. Maybe not.

At a glance, the team, as a group, are getting an average of 28.9 shots on net per game. This can be further broken down to 26.5 shots in games they win, and 30.1 shots in games they lose. It’s almost become a bit of joke that they haven’t won a game in which they’ve outshot their opponent. Although score-effect has a lot to do with that.

The 28.9 average ranks the Ducks 27th in the league for this particular metric. Most fans, whether they’re all about that old school thug life, or they bat off over “advanced statistics,” would recognize that more shots are better than less and that more shots are more likely to result in more goals. Thus, Getzlaf as an individual shooting the puck more is considered an overall boon.
The Anaheim Duck Don’t Win More with Getzlaf Increasing His Shots

At a glance, Getzlaf is shooting at the 4th highest rate of his career, which is the highest since the 2014-2015 season. To put that in perspective, he’s shooting 8.5% more across all situations. A number that can be broken down to a 15% increase at even strength. This season, he’s shooting the puck near enough to 2.5 times per game (2.47 to be precise), subdivided to 1.87 times at even strength and 0.53 on the powerplay. All this is part of the Anaheim Ducks new system of shooting the puck from wherever they can, whenever they can.

However, as mentioned above the Ducks seemingly shoot the puck far less in games they win. This too is true for Getzlaf. In games the Ducks win, Getzlaf is shooting the puck 1.16 times per game at even strength. In fact, the Ducks have only won 2 games in which Getzlaf has shot over his season average. Let that sink in.

The Anaheim Ducks have won 2 games in which Getzlaf has had 3 or more shots per game. However, the Ducks are a team that has lost a lot of games of late, so this may not surprise. What may surprise is that the Ducks score fewer goals as a group in games which Getzlaf has 3 or more shots. Specifically, when Getzlaf has 0-to-2 shot in the game, the Ducks average 3 goals. When Getzlaf has 3 or more shots on net, they score 2.15 goals per game.

All that is to say that Getzlaf shooting the puck more isn’t necessarily better, and it’s incredibly lazy to suggest that it may be the case. However, in some cases, this may actually hold true. This season Getzlaf is shooting 11.9% less on average per game, on the power-play, than his career average. This is also the 4th lowest total of his career to date. The discerning fan will recognize that the Ducks power-play is truly abysmal (10.5% conversion rate) and ranked 2nd last in the league.
Getzlaf Shooting More Has Improved the Power Play

However, while Getzlaf is merely shooting 0.53 times per game while on the power-play, the Ducks have scored power-play goals in 6 of the 13 games in which Getzlaf has registered a shot on net in this facet of the game. This is in stark comparison to the 2 goals in 17 games in which Getzlaf has not had a shot on net during the power-play.

So taken together, we can establish that Getzlaf shooting more at even strength may not necessarily be beneficial to the teams’ success, yet him shooting more on the power play might be. These two phenomena may not necessarily be mutually exclusive things. We know from a very long career, that Getzlaf is one of the best pure passing players in the game. Him looking to shoot the puck more takes away from his greatest strength and limits the abilities of other players to score. At even strength, general play is more fluid, thus threading the needle with a deft pass is likely to result in a shot on net from a dangerous position.

On the power-play, however, and particularly on the Ducks power play, the general flow of play is more stagnant. The puck moves around the outside basically waiting for a defensive lapse to occur. Getzlaf making these types of passes does not really help to get quality scoring chances. However, Getzlaf does possess a heavy shot, and it is a good shot when he uses it. This of course why people want him to shoot the puck more. At even strength, it doesn’t measure up to his ability to pass, but on a stagnant power-play his shot can create rebounds and thus dangerous follow up opportunities to score.

Taken together we can see that the Anaheim Ducks may have the right mindset, but poor application. More shots overall is a positive trend. This should be at a team level however and not necessarily the captain. He is a gifted passer of the puck, and while he is currently scoring at a high percentage, we know passing is more likely to be a reproducible skill as he ages. We can see from above that Getzlaf shooting more at even strength, correlates to others shooting less, and the Ducks, as a team, scoring less. We can also see that he’s doing less on the power-play and that this change too, is hurting the team score overall.

I admire the captain taking more upon himself in certain situations, however, it may be time for the coaching staff to step in and give him a nudge in the right direction once again. Coaches should be placing players in positions to best use their strengths and this should be no different. It may be time to push the captain to utilize all the strengths he’s shown us over the past decade and more.

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The Anaheim Ducks announced today that center Ryan Kesler and winger Patrick Eaves will miss the entire 2019-20 season.

Patrick Eaves was acquired from the Dallas Stars at the 2017 trade deadline for a conditional 2nd round pick that turned into a 1st round pick due to the conditions being met. He immediately made an impact for the Ducks, scoring 11 goals in in 20 games in the regular season and adding two more in the first round of the playoffs before becoming injured.

He was awarded a three year contract with a $3.15 million AAV. Unfortunately Eaves only played two games the following season before being diagnosed with a now-unclassifiable muscle disease that threatened his life and mobility. After making a miraculous recovery and healing from a shoulder injury early last season, Eaves made his return, only playing in seven games this last season before being sidelined again before eventually finishing the season in San Diego.

With the announcement that he is now out for the season, Eaves’ career as a Duck is likely over, as this is the final year of his current contract.

For Ryan Kesler, the news of being sidelined for the year has been expected all summer. After Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported last offseason that Kesler might not play in 2018-19, the veteran center surprised everyone by playing 60 games. Unfortunately, Kesler was clearly not the same player the Ducks had traded for back in 2014, putting up a career low eight points while having some of the worst shot metrics of any center in the NHL.

After Kesler played his 1000th career NHL game against Arizona in March, he played one more game to be honored at Honda Center by the Ducks before promptly sitting out the rest of the year. A Sports Illustrated article including interviews with Kesler revealed just how many agonizing struggles he had to endure just to stay on the ice and reach 1000 games played.

Kesler still has three seasons remaining on his six year, $6.875 million contract. It’s very possible that he could spend the remainder of that deal on LTIR, though Kesler did not entirely rule out trying to make a comeback at some point after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery in May.

With both Eaves and Kesler on Long Term Injured Reserve this year, the Ducks could have up to $10 million in cap relief should they have the need. However, the team currently sits $8.5 million under the cap, the fifth-lowest mark in the league according to CapFriendly, and with training camp underway, it’s unlikely they will need the room anytime soon.

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Chris Kreider scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves as the New York Rangers won a tough and physical game against the Anaheim Ducks, 5-1, at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. It snapped a three game losing streak.

There was a scary moment in the third period when Filip Chytil went slamming into the boards knees first after Korbinian Holzer’s stick hit his foot. Chytil laid on the ice for a few minutes but eventually skated off with help from head athletics trainer Jim Ramsay. He did return to play in the period but looked uncomfortable.

Earlier in the game it was a Chytil who got the Rangers on the board first. The scoring got underway about seven minutes into the first period. Brendan Lemieux chipped a pass to Filip Chytil in the neutral zone, and Chytil skated all the way to the net and back-handed a shot past Ryan Miller to give the Rangers the early lead.

Only a minute later, Brett Howden knocked in a loose puck hanging after a saved shot from Anthony DeAngelo to give the Blueshirts a 2-0 advantage.

At about halfway through the period, Anaheim’s Sam Steel knocked in a puck that was in mid-air past Henrik Lundqvist to put the Ducks on the board.

But Kreider took a pass in the neutral zone three minutes later, and just like Chytil, skated all the way through the neutral zone and forced the puck past Miller to give the Rangers the 3-1 lead, which held until the end of the period.

The second period was extremely intense, and it may very well be the Rangers’ most physical period of hockey so far this season.

16 minutes into the period, Kreider deflected a pass by Zibanejad from behind the net, which led to another goal and put the Rangers up 4-1.

But mere moments later, a rather unusual incident occurred involving Lemieux. Erik Gudbranson gave Lemieux a shove, and challenged Lemieux to a bout. Lemieux skated away after Gudbranson dropped the gloves.

Gudbranson was given a 10 minute misconduct for slamming his sticking snapping it in half afterwards, and Lemieux was given a minor penalty.

As the second period ended, Lemieux was handed a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute roughing minor for punching Hampus Lindholm at the end of the period.

To start the third, Zibanejad scored his third shorthanded goal of the season to give the Rangers a 5-1 edge.

Later on, Michael Haley and Nicolas Deslauriers gave the Garden faithful an amazing bout, which ended with Deslauriers getting pinned to the ice by Haley. Both received five-minute majors.

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Michael Del Zotto hit a once-in-a-lifetime shot Saturday. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t result in a goal.

The Anaheim Ducks defenseman accidentally flipped a puck into referee Francis Charron’s pocket during the third period of their game against the New York Islanders.

Del Zotto was in his own zone and tried to move the puck to one of his teammates. Instead he tossed a backhand pass into the right-front pocket of Charron’s pants, forcing a stoppage in play.

You can read Charron’s lips as he says, “It was in my pocket,” and fear not, no officials were hurt during this remarkable play. But it did make for a good laugh once the mystery of the disappearing puck was solved.

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Since the inaugural 1993 season, we’ve seen the Anaheim Ducks score thousands of goals. Today, we’re going to relive five of the greatest goals in franchise history. These aren’t necessarily the greatest shots ever, but rather some of the most important and more memorable in the Duck’s 25-year history.

5. The Game That Would Not End — Petr Sykora

During the 2003 Stanley Cup run, the Mighty Ducks faced the Dallas Stars in the second round of the playoffs. In the very first game of the series, the Mighty Ducks and Stars battled to a 3-3 tie which forced overtime. Overtime would last a whole game and a half. Finally, 47 seconds into the 5th OT period Petr Sykora would pick up a feed from the corner and score the game-winning goal for the Mighty Ducks and end the longest game in Anaheim Ducks history.

4. Ducks Sweep the Wings — Steve Rucchin

“Here’s Rucchin, Steve Rucchin a little room. Rucchin a shot. Save made Joseph, rebound not centered. In front, Rucchin. SCORE! SCORES! The Mighty Ducks have knocked off the defending Stanley Cup Champions!” That was a call by the illustrious voice of Gary Thorne.

This goal, from Steve Rucchin, was the series-sweeping goal that knocked out the Red Wings in the first round and gave the Ducks a huge shot of momentum as they would go on their seemingly magical run all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals vs the New Jersey Devils. This moment doesn’t quite receive the love and admiration it truly deserves, but that’s because it’s overshadowed by one particular goal that happened that same postseason.

3. Off the Floor, On the Board — Paul Kariya

You knew it was coming. In the second period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Paul Kariya took a massive hit from New Jersey Devils captain Scott Stevens. Many of us thought he was done for the series. With less than 3 minutes to go in the period, Paul would make his return to the game.

Kariya would turn on the jets and unleash a powerful slapshot that blew right by Martin Brodeur. Recently during an interview, we learned that the hit made Kariya blackout and he has gone on record saying he has no recollection of anything beyond the hit. He doesn’t remember the goal or Game 7. Now I know what you’re gonna say, “why is this not number one?” We’ve still got two more, so hear me out.

2. Game 7 Curse Breaker — Nick Ritchie

Now I don’t want to remind you all of the past Game 7 failures and I won’t. However, I will say, this goal was big on so many levels. At this point, the Anaheim Ducks had a bad habit of losing home Game 7’s. Admittedly and with good reason I was really nervous for this Game 7 but this one felt different I just couldn’t put my finger on why though.

Edmonton scored first, and as they do I’m thinking, “here we go again.” Then, Andrew Cogliano, of all people, tied the game shortly after. It’s 1-1, and like all of you, I’m on the edge of my seat. I’m nervous. Then it happened. Nick Ritchie broke the tie. Everybody who knows me knows that I’m not a fan of Nick Ritchie but on this night he came up huge and broke the Game 7 curse.

1. The Goal that brought the Stanley Cup to Anaheim — Travis Moen

Raise your hand if you imagined the Anaheim Ducks winning the Stanley Cup off an own-goal by the opposing team. During a routine puck pick up behind the net, Senators defenseman Chris Phillips loses control of the puck and hits Ray Emery‘s skate and slides beyond the line and into the net.

Travis Moen dumped the puck into the Senators and was the last Duck to touch the puck before it went in. The Senators would score one more goal making it 3-2 and Ducks would go on to add to their lead with goals by Francois Beauchemin, Travis Moen, and Corey Perry and the rest is history. No, this one isn’t the greatest or the flashiest one in team history but it is the one that won Anaheim and California it’s first Stanley Cup.

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The Detroit Red Wings are nearly halfway through their third season of play at the new Little Caesars Arena, but the venue isn’t complete.

Sergei Fedorov’s famous number 91 needs to be raised to the rafters.

The Red Wings seemingly adopted Fedorov when they helped him secretly defect from the Soviet Union in 1990. For the better part of a decade, Fedorov went on to become among the most dynamic, explosive, and exciting players not only to don the Winged Wheel but in the entire National Hockey League.

He won the 1994 Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player as well as the Selke Trophy in 1994 and 1996 as the NHL’s best defensive forward. During his entire Red Wings career, he scored 400 goals – many of which will forever remain on NHL highlight reels. Fedorov also received praise from figures such as Wayne Gretzky, who stated: “I have never seen a player dominate the game the way Sergei did.”

Of course, Fedorov was also an integral part of three Stanley Cup champion winning teams in 1997, 1998, and 2002.

The alleged theories as to why his number isn’t officially and permanently enshrined in team history are well known. The first instance goes back to Fedorov’s infamous signing of a heavy front-loaded offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes, who are run by Peter Karmanos – a bitter business adversary of the late Mike Ilitch. What better way to stick it to your rival by poaching one of his best players?

The Red Wings reluctantly matched Carolina’s offer, and were forced to pay Fedorov a total of $28 million (most of which were bonuses) for the 1997-98 season alone.

Secondly was the well-publicized ultimate divorce from the Red Wings, leaving to sign a free-agent deal with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the summer of 2003 (who had just swept Detroit from the playoffs months earlier) for less money than he was offered by Detroit. The bolt left a bitter taste in the mouths of fans, and they mercilessly booed Fedorov upon his return to Detroit with the Mighty Ducks in December of 2003.

All of this, however, occurred well over a decade ago. Fans seemed to have softened their stance on Fedorov, whom they adored and then viewed as a modern-day Benedict Arnold.

Fedorov was warmly received by the fans during the 2014 Winter Classic Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park that preceded the Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. Additionally, he was given a standing ovation when he dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff in November of 2015 at Joe Louis Arena shortly after his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He also admitted that while he’d feel honored to have his number retired, he’s still going to look back fondly at his memories with the team no matter what.

“I don’t want to put any pressure. It’s going to be a great honor if it happens,” Fedorov said. “If it’s not, it’s still (an honor) to be a part of it for 13 seasons here, three Cups and celebrations, rallies, victory rallies. What else can you wish for?”

The Detroit Pistons did the right thing and looked past the bitter departure of defensive star Ben Wallace to the Chicago Bulls in 2006, retiring his No. 3 permanently in 2003. There’s absolutely no reason why the Red Wings can’t do the same with Fedorov, whose accolades far outweigh what Wallace brought to Detroit.

When you think of all-time Red Wings greats, Sergei Fedorov is right there with Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Gordie Howe, and Ted Lindsay amongst others. Number 91 needs to be right next to numbers 1 (Terry Sawchuck), 5 (Lidstrom), 7 (Lindsay), 9 (Howe), 10 (Alex Delvecchio) 12 (Sid Abel), and 19 (Yzerman).

It’s time to let bygones be bygones. It’s impossible to ignore the legacy of Fedorov and the undeniable accomplishments that were as much a part of the Red Wings success as anyone’s.

Little Caesars Arena won’t be fully finished without the extra detail of another retired number taking its rightful place in the rafters.

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IRVINE — Ryan Getzlaf called out the Ducks after they succumbed to the quick-strike offense of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. He said they quit after giving up the tiebreaking goal in a 6-2 loss. He said they weren’t tough enough in front of the nets. He also didn’t spare himself from criticism.

Harsh words, but Getzlaf believed they needed to be said.

Getzlaf then showed the Ducks how to do it right during their 3-0 victory over the sizzling New York Islanders on Monday night. He led and the Ducks followed closely behind their longtime captain, ending a three-game losing streak (0-2-1) while winning for only the second time in 10 games (2-5-3).

He talked a good game Saturday and then played one Monday against the league’s hottest team. He scored the Ducks’ first goal against New York and set up their second. He also was credited with two shots on goal, two hits, two takeaways and seven victories in 12 trips to the faceoff circle.

“He’s our leader,” Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. “We understand sometimes we need a kick in the butt, and he’s the guy who can provide that. On any given night, you know he’s going to come out and compete. Even if he’s not on the score sheet, he’s working, he’s killing penalties, he’s playing physical. He’s a guy we look to when times get tough.”

With the Ducks in transition and no longer capable of making the deep playoff runs of season’s past, Getzlaf has been asked to accept new challenges this season, including the mentorship of a group of young players who are expected to comprise the new foundation of the franchise.

Slowly but certainly, Getzlaf, 34, has emerged as a leader in goals, assists and so much more.

“He’s been one of the best players in the league for a really long time and it’s not by accident,” said Sam Steel, a 22-year-old center. “He’s awesome. He’s always trying to help me out. It’s nothing specific. It could be certain times in the game. Just little things here and there.

“He’ll let me know when I’m doing a good job. He’s been really helpful. It’s been really good.”

Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg were the Ducks’ co-leaders with nine goals apiece going into Wednesday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz. Getzlaf also has 10 assists, one more than Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm.

Getzlaf has done it all while averaging only 18:13 of ice time, his lowest figure since the second season of his Hall of Fame-caliber career. Back in 2006-07, he was more of a follower than a leader on a team that Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Teemu Selanne guided to the Stanley Cup.

Getzlaf has been on board with everything the 2019-20 Ducks are trying to accomplish. Ducks coach Dallas Eakins got the sense right from their first offseason meeting that Getzlaf did not need to be given a sales job. He was ready for a new challenge.

“You know when you’re talking to somebody, you either get a sense from their body language or their tone or whatever it is, are they feeding me a bunch of (expletive) or are they being truthful?” Eakins said. “I really believed he spoke from the heart.

“I don’t think I should have had anything contrary in my head. He’s been the captain here. He’s invested much into this organization and this organization has invested much into him. So, I just believed coming out of there that he had the organization … and his teammates first in his thoughts.

“For me, if there’s anybody who has been leading the charge, pounding home the message, being totally on board, it has been him. And that’s encouraging to see. It’s inspiring to see. Not only is he invested in playing well himself, he’s invested in seeing not just the young guys but all his teammates get better.”

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EDMONTON – Phillip Danault se souvient très bien de ce qu’on lui a demandé à sa première année professionnelle à Rockford dans la Ligue américaine de hockey (LAH).

« On me disait qu’on aimerait que je modèle mon jeu sur (Marcus) Kruger », a-t-il raconté, vendredi, après l’entraînement du Canadien.

Marcus Kruger. L’exercice en est un de mémoire, n’est-ce pas, alors allons se la rafraîchir.

Marcus Kruger, donc. Pivot suédois de 29 ans, ancien choix de 5e tour des Blackhawks de Chicago en 2009, qui a participé aux conquêtes de la Coupe Stanley en 2013 et 2015 dans un rôle secondaire, voire tertiaire.

Il campait un rôle défensif, éteignoir, contre les meilleurs éléments adverses, un peu à la manière de Samuel Pahlsson avec les Ducks d’Anaheim en 2007 si les (un peu) plus vieux d’entre vous préfèrent la comparaison.

Kruger joue aujourd’hui dans la Ligue A, en Suisse. En 8 saisons dans la LNH, il n’a jamais réussi plus de 9 buts, jamais inscrit plus de 28 points.

« Sans rien enlever à Kruger, je me disais “Ok, c’est un bon départ, mais il me semble que je suis capable d’aller chercher un autre niveau” », a expliqué le Québécois.

À l’époque, Danault amorce sa carrière par une saison timide, du moins sur le plan offensif, dans la LAH. Rapidement, les Hawks, déjà bien nantis dans l’axe avec Jonathan Toews, prévoient en faire un centre essentiellement défensif.

Puis, « j’ai été échangé à Montréal et ça a été la meilleure chose de pouvoir prouver à moi-même et à toute la ligue que j’étais capable d’être un solide centre complet. »

C’est peut-être ce qui est le plus étonnant du parcours du jeune homme de 26 ans jusqu’à présent : sa capacité à changer les idées préconçues. Lorsqu’on vous colle une étiquette sur le casque, il devient difficile de la faire oublier.

Je ne sais pas s’il me surprend, c’était un bon joueur junior. Mais il a commencé sa carrière en étant un centre un peu plus défensif. Il joue avec des gars qui ont du talent offensif alors c’est sûr que ça aide. Sa confiance a grandi aussi avec cette situation.
Claude Julien

Aujourd’hui, Danault est le premier centre d’une formation qui bataille pour une place en séries éliminatoires. N’en déplaise à ses détracteurs, les chiffres démontrent qu’il n’a que peu à envier à la fine fleur de sa profession.

Le centre est confronté soir après soir aux meilleurs trios de la LNH avec comme mission principale de les freiner dans leurs velléités offensives. Accessoirement, Danault doit produire avec ses ailiers puisque le Canadien souffre présentement, jusqu’au match contre Calgary en tout cas, d’une collaboration inconstante de ses autres trios.

Malgré tout, le Victoriavillois affiche le troisième taux de possession de rondelle parmi tous les joueurs de centre du circuit, soit 58,4 % selon Natural Stat Trick.

Petit saut en arrière. Lorsque David Desharnais a quitté Montréal, Max Pacioretty se plaisait à jouer principalement avec un joueur centre : Danault.

Sans noircir lui-même la feuille de pointage, sa capacité à créer des revirements en zone neutre, sa combativité en échec-avant et son intelligence du jeu sont autant de facettes qui dégageaient de l’espace pour l’ancien capitaine.

Ses compagnons de trios actuels, Tomas Tatar et Brendan Gallagher, en profitent à leur tour sauf que cette fois le Québécois touche aussi sa part du butin.

Avec 23 points amassés à forces égales cette saison, il pointe au 8e rang parmi tous les centres de la ligue et au 21e si on ajoute tous les patineurs dans l’équation. Il en a récolté autant qu’Alexander Ovechkin et que Mark Stone.

« C’est du stock, c’est gros », a-t-il laissé tomber. On pourrait dire ça, en effet.

J’ai toujours cru en moi, c’est sûr. Avec la confiance, on peut accomplir de grandes choses.
Phillip Danault

Il vogue présentement sur un rythme de 61 points cette saison après en avoir récolté 53 l’an dernier. Il avait d’ailleurs terminé au 7e rang du scrutin pour l’obtention du trophée Selke remis au meilleur attaquant défensif, avec 80 votes.

La carrière de l’ancien des Tigres de Victoriaville est simplement entrée dans une autre dimension au cours de la dernière année. Pour remporter le trophée Selke, il faut bâtir sa réputation une brique à la fois.

Votre nom commence d’abord par être murmuré dans les corridors, puis, vous obtenez vos premiers votes. Si vous maintenez la cadence pendant quelques saisons, possible que vous gagniez suffisamment en popularité pour vous approcher de la récompense.

Peut-il, un jour, devenir un candidat crédible?

« Il pourrait l’être assurément. Il y a beaucoup de bons joueurs qui peuvent être dans la course et il est certainement l’un d’entre eux. C’est une bonne ligue, il y a beaucoup de bons joueurs. Ce n’est pas facile de remporter ce trophée. J’ai joué avec Pavel Datsyuk. J’ai joué avec beaucoup de bons joueurs et il est l’un d’entre eux », a estimé son ailier gauche, Tomas Tatar.

Sauf qu’il faut engranger de bonnes statistiques. Depuis 2005-2006, tous les lauréats avaient réussi au moins 70 points, à une exception près que nous appellerons la clause Patrice Bergeron.

La vedette des Bruins, que le joueur du Canadien a toujours eue comme modèle d’ailleurs, a été la seule à mettre la main sur le Selke, à 4 reprises s’il vous plaît, avec des campagnes de 64, 62, 55 et 53 points.

Pour Danault, tout cela n’a que peu d’importance. Des rêvasseries romantiques qui n’ont que peu d’effet sur le match de samedi contre les Oilers.

Sa plus grande réussite, au fond, aura probablement été de forcer les autres à changer leur opinion à son égard.

« Dans la Ligue nationale, ton jeu fait foi de tout. Il a fait un bon travail pour saisir les occasions qu’on lui a offertes. C’est la façon de faire pour tous les joueurs », a conclu Brendan Gallagher.
En rafale

Le Canadien a tenu un entraînement complet d’une vingtaine de minutes seulement dans le but de préparer son duel contre les Oilers d’Edmonton samedi soir à 19 h (HNE).

Nick Cousins était le seul absent de la séance puisqu’il profitait d’une journée de traitements.

Les Oilers affrontent les Penguins vendredi soir à Edmonton. La troupe de Dallas Eakins a perdu de sa superbe récemment et affiche un dossier de 3-5-1 au mois de décembre. N’empêche, Connor McDavid (59 points) et Leon Draisaitl (58) trônent toujours au sommet des marqueurs de la ligue.

Victor Mete et Jesperi Kotkaniemi se sont à nouveau entraînés avec leurs coéquipiers sans toutefois recevoir de contacts.

Mete (cheville) se rapproche d’un retour au jeu, potentiellement dès Winnipeg lundi selon Claude Julien, tandis que Kotkaniemi (commotion cérébrale) est encore évalué quotidiennement.