Not because they necessarily deserved to win, but because it was obvious that they put forth a quality effort to try and do so.
The Ducks are nine games into the season, and at this point, I expect the questions will begin. How are they going to fix this? Will someone be traded? Will Randy Carlyle be replaced?
Ultimately, I don't think that change is the answer. In fact, I think stability is what the Ducks need to focus on right now.
For example, it's possible that the Ducks may have found some line options that are working for them.
Joffrey Lupul is taking advantage of playing on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Lupul's two goals Saturday night were enough to keep the Ducks in the game (not to mention, were great for my fantasy team), and might just be the spark that line needed to gain some momentum.
In addition, the second line of Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Bobby Ryan are starting to show signs of chemistry as well. They're cycling the puck well, and the combination of play making skill on that line is enough to threaten any defense. Now they just have to find a way to actually make good on those threats.
Likewise, as a fan, I might be more frustrated than Bobby Ryan right now.
Well, probably not, but it feels that way.
For those of you who haven't noticed—not that it would be difficult to see—our Bobby Ryan is having some difficulties finding the net. He's not having trouble taking shots, as he's currently leading the team in doing so, he's just having a hard time making them count. I'm not worried. He'll find his groove again (when he does, can we call him 'Stella'? ), and before you know it, he'll be a scoring machine.
Ryan has a lot of expectations riding on him, as this is a contract year and he's coming off a stellar rookie season. He started the season playing on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, however, his recent placement on the left wing along side Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu seem to be working well for him and it looks like he might be staying there.
Of course, Bobby Ryan's difficulty in finding the net is just one of many stagnant aspects the Ducks are facing right now.
Defensively the Ducks are dwarfed. Spotty performances by the Ducks' three top defenders Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney, and James Wisniewski are causing fans to scratch their heads. What can be done to change the defensive core in a positive light?
One thing I noticed during the first period of action was an increased presence around the goal crease, on both ends of the ice. This lead to some great scoring opportunities offensively and great positioning for clearing the puck in front of JS Giguere.
However, this support didn't last throughout the entire game, and Giguere was once again exposed. Giguere's knack for giving up soft and untimely goals, as well as a nagging groin injury, might just be the paved road for Jonas Hiller to take over the number one starting position.
I'm all for it. I think that it's time for Hiller to be given the opportunity to lead this team night in and night out. He proved he is a warrior between the pipes for the Ducks during last seasons' run to the playoffs, and I think the team has trust in him.
It feels like the Ducks are making progress. Saturday night was definitely a step in the right direction. Maybe even a jump.
It's not perfect...yet. But it's getting there. Don't jump ship yet fans.
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