It wasn’t pretty, but the Ducks won… and (as always) Randy Carlyle wasn’t going to pick apart a win… but I will.
Before tonight’s Ducks home opener against the Vancouver Canucks, a friend of mine said he was going to the game, since he was a glutton for punishment. I pointed out that just as you can’t win ‘em all, you can’t lose ‘em all and the home opener is as good a time as any to win your first game. Since the Ducks home opener was against the Vancouver Canucks, I can understand why many (myself included) didn’t think the Ducks’ chances of winning tonight were very high.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Ducks had two players tied with Scott Hartnell of the Red Wings for the most penalty minutes (23) in the NHL. Their top three scorers from last season (Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan) had yet to get a single point combined. That’s not what you want to see if you’re a Ducks fan. Your team’s top line guys should never be leading the league in penalty minutes (after tonight’s game, Bobby Ryan is the sole leader with 27 PIM) even if it’s only 3 games into the season. If the top line guys get injured fighting, it could really hurt the scoring which was bad enough already.
The Ducks scored a total of 2 goals in their first three games. They doubled that in one game tonight while beating the Vancouver Canucks, who hadn’t lost a game in regulation yet this season. Until the Ducks’ third goal tonight, they had only really scored 5 on 3 goals (their first goal was technically 5 on 4, but it was effectively still 3 players for the Canucks).
Anaheim’s top line has started scoring and Getzlaf (who was scoreless in the first three games) had a hand in every goal scored for them tonight. (He had a goal and three assists.) Perhaps, in spite of the generally lackluster performance, tonight’s scoring from the first line is the breakthrough the Ducks needed to kick start their season. I guess we’ll see how the Ducks fare against the Thrashers Friday. That game should say a lot about the team the Ducks are going to be this season.
In spite of their bad performance in their first three games, the Ducks’ home opener was a sellout (a capacity crowd of 17.174 was the announced attendance) and unlike many Anaheim sellouts, the building was pretty packed.
The Ducks host the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday and show their fans if tonight’s home opener was a fluke or if coming home to the Honda Center and their fans was all they needed. The game Friday is sure to be significantly less crowded than tonight’s home opener, even if another sellout is announced. Friday nights in southern California leave fans with a lot of options (including the Kings game against the Canucks for big hockey fans)…
As a side note, the Canucks, who had only played two games going into tonight’s game in Anaheim and hadn’t lost in regulation (they lost their home and season opener in a shootout against the Kings) had only scored three goals and both Sedins (Henrik & Daniel) had a hand in all of their goals. Both Sedin twins were involved in the first four Canucks goals this season, but the second goal tonight was scored without them on the ice.
To read more of my thoughts on the NHL and other sports, check out Press Box Perspective