The Ducks 19th season kicked off this year at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. Home of the Ducks’ very own, Finnish Flash, who came back again for his 20th…that’s right – TWENTIETH NHL season (his 13th with the Ducks). The 41 year old and the rest of the Ducks, however, were outplayed by the Buffalo Sabres in their opening game despite the fact that the Ducks out shot the Sabres 30-25. Jonas Hiller, back from last season’s bout with vertigo, allowed 4 goals on 25 shots in the first and second periods – including two power play goals. The Ducks’ only goal came from Nate Guenin, a newly acquired Duck defenseman whose goal against All-Star, Ryan Miller, was his first goal of his career.
Not ones to sit around and lament over their tail kicking, the Ducks bounced right back the next night in a shootout win against the Sean Avery-less New York Rangers. Andrew Cogliano, the Ducks’ third-line center and former Edmonton Oiler, scored 9 minutes into the first period. Wanting to keep the game exciting, I guess, the Ducks allowed Brad Richards (whom I confuse with former Flyer Brad Richards), to score with 2 minutes and 15 seconds remaining in the game leading the two teams to OT and eventually a shoot out. Both teams showed a little bit of fatigue/shoot-out rust in that everyone, except Bobby Ryan either had their shot stopped or missed the net entirely.
The Ducks have since headed back to the OC to get ready for their home opener this Friday (10/14) against the newly revamped, but still arch rivals, San Jose Sharks. The Sharks, who gave Devon Setoguchi and Dany Heatley the boot prior to this year, and the Ducks, will meet up six times before the 82 games are up.
Look for the “24” patch to be worn by the Ducks, starting this Friday through 11/17/11. The patch is representative of the number worn by Belarus native, Ruslan Salei, a 14 year veteran selected by the Ducks in the 1996 draft who was tragically killed, along with the entire KHL Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team on a 9/7/11 plane crash.
Friday, we might also see the Ducks’ number one shot-blocking defenseman, Toni Lydman, back in the line-up again after a May 2nd off-season right shoulder surgery. Lydman was cleared for contact on Monday and if practices go well, may be squishing fish as early as Friday.
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Written by KARLY TAMBARA