The Anaheim Ducks were back at the Honda Center last night for the first preseason game of the year. Head coach Randy Carlyle dressed a roster largely consisting of some of the youngest members of the organization for a chance to see how some of his rookies fare against NHL-level competition. The Ducks eventually fell to the Phoenix Coyotes 4-7.
Here were the line combinations for the game:
Andrew Cogliano | Peter Holland | Teemu Selanne
Emerson Etem | Saku Koivu | Kyle Palmieri
Jean-Francois Jacques | Brandon McMillan | Devante Smith-Pelly
Dan Sexton | Joseph Cramarossa | Rickard Rakell
The Ducks’ defense looked shaky, often being pulled out of position and failing to clear rebounds. However, the team settled down when Carlyle switched the first and second defensive lines to play with the second and first offensive lines, respectively.
The power play had a lot of good puck movement and player rotation, but there there were no large players to create traffic in front of the net. The first PP unit was Rakell, Koivu, Selanne, Rodney, and Visnovsky. The second PP unit was Cogliano, Holland, Palmieri, Newton, and Guenin. The power play went 1 for 4 on the night.
The penalty kill looked good, generating multiple shorthanded scoring opportunities. They successfully killed 3 out of 4 penalties. The one goal against was scored off the rush on a nice drop pass.
The Ducks were outshot 37-30.
Andrew Cogliano had a very solid first game in an Anaheim Ducks jersey. Playing left wing, he was able to focus more on using his speed to create offensive chances instead of being distracted with more defensive responsibilities and faceoffs. He showed excellent vision and playmaking when he opened up a passing lane and made a great pass to Sean Zimmerman for the team’s first goal of the night on a delayed penalty. His speed and offensive awareness allowed him to get to a loose puck and bury a rebound to tie the game at 3-3. Overall he had a strong night and was voted the second star of the game.
Peter Holland was the most impressive rookie on the ice. In fact, he was one of the most impressive Ducks on the ice. He logged an impressive 21:33 time on ice, third behind only defensemen Bryan Rodney (22:35) and Lubomir Visnovsky (21:51). He fared well in the faceoff circle, made smart plays with the puck, and was defensively responsible. The young center played on the second powerplay unit and was on the ice in the final minutes of the game with an empty net. If there was one thing he could improve on, it would be a little bit more jump in his step. He brought up his intensity in the final minutes of the game; it would be great to see that over a full 60 minutes. He ended the night with 1 assist and an even +/- rating.
Emerson Etem‘s night had its ups and downs. He was on the ice for the first two goals against, but later used his speed to create a turnover, race around the defenders, and throw a centering pass that ended up in the back of the net off of Kyle Palmieri’s stick. Etem was working hard to make his physical presence known, but he still takes a lot of hits himself. His speedy style of play is high-risk, high reward. He puts himself in a position that is vulnerable to being hit, but if he can get past the defender, he’s gone. He played well on the PK and had a partial breakaway that led to a great shorthanded scoring chance. Towards the end of the game he took an unnecessary penalty that led to Phoenix’s 6th goal. Overall, Etem plays with intensity on both sides of the puck but has some improvements to work on.
Rickard Rakell played a solid game, skating with intensity in all three zones. He made some strong plays with the puck, but also tried some things that may work in juniors but not in the NHL. He played well defensively and was even placed on defense in the final minute of the game with the empty net. It’s nice to have a two-way forward who can man the point and provide both offense and defense in dire situations.
Devante Smith-Pelly only played 10:05 and wasn’t as physical as he played in the 2010 preseason. Last year he was skating hard and throwing his weight around, hitting everything that moved. Last night he only recorded 3 hits. Although he didn’t have much TOI, he was very strong on the puck, especially along the boards. He played on the penalty kill with junior teammate Joseph Cramarossa.
Jean-Francois Jacques also had limited ice time (8:34) but made his presence known. He had a spirited fight with Phoenix’s Ryan Hollweg. Jacques had a decisive win, displaying excellent balance, strength, and endurance. He and George Parros should provide plenty of protection for the Ducks.
Joseph Cramarossa played some big minutes on the penalty kill, but went 3-8 in the faceoff circle and had some bad turnovers. The 2011 draft pick had 4 hits and was doing a good job getting under his opponents’ skin. He showed great hands during a scoring chance in close, but couldn’t capitalize.
Dan Sexton had surprisingly low minutes (12:36) considering his relatively high amount of experience. The speedy forward wasn’t making strong plays with the puck and wasn’t much of a factor in the game.
Brandon McMillan was quiet on the scoresheet, registering just 1 shot on goal and 2 PIMs. However, he did win 9 of 16 faceoffs, the only Duck to win more than 50% of his faceoffs other than Kyle Palmieri who went 1-0.
Kyle Palmieri had a nice tip-in goal as he crashed the crease. He also had an assist on the Ducks’ lone power play goal. He didn’t look noticeably outstanding on the ice, but he also didn’t look like he didn’t belong there.
Saku Koivu was his usual dependable self, despite his -2 rating. He went 7-7 on faceoffs and registered just 2 shots, instead opting to try to create plays for his younger linemates.
Teemu Selanne also played a relatively quiet game, skating on a line with Holland and Cogliano. The 41-year-old veteran looked good on the ice, moving seemingly effortlessly throughout the night.
Jake Newton had a very strong game, playing solid defense and jumping into the play in the other end. He played on the second defensive pairing on the power play. Newton was the only defenseman to finish the night with a positive +/- rating (+1). It is also worth keeping in mind that he was the benefactor of playing with Lubomir Visnovsky. However, Visnovsky made some unsuccessful pinches and Newton handled the situations with poise. Overall, Newton looked very comfortable and confident on the ice.
Lubomir Visnovsky was his usual offensive-minded self, taking 4 shots on the night. He was also being particularly aggressive with his pinches at the offensive zone blue line. He was also efficient in his own zone, make strong poke checks and clearing the zone with ease. Visnovsky is noted for his offensive stats, but his defensive game is nothing to overlook.
Matt Smaby had an awful night. The 6’6″ defenseman made his physical presence known, but was out of position on numerous occasions. At one point he chased a Phoenix forward along the blue line who had already passed the puck away. By the time Smaby finished his check, the play was already below the goal line and he was the last player back. He also had trouble clearing the zone with passes that were either too soft along the boards that were easily intercepted or ill-advised open ice passes that missed their mark. Smaby had 5 strong hits on the night, but was a -2 and had 0 blocks and just 1 shot on goal.
Nate Guenin was Smaby’s defensive partner and didn’t fare much better. Guenin did score a power play goal off of a point shot that deflected off of a stick and took a wild bounce into the net. Like his partner, Guenin was also aggressive with the body, recording 3 hits. Unfortunately, he too struggled with his passes and his positioning. However, one (very) bright spot was his incredible 5 blocked shots. Guenin ended the night with 1 goal and a -2 rating.
Bryan Rodney played well defensively with 3 blocked shots, but ended the night a -2. One of the goals against was the empty-net goal at the end of the game. Rodney quietly played 22:35 and had an assist on Sean Zimmerman’s goal on the delayed penalty.
Sean Zimmerman was Rodney’s defensive partner and was one of the most notable Ducks defensemen along with Newton. He had good positioning, 5 hits, 1 blocked shot, and a strong slap shot that snuck through Phoenix goalie Curtis McElhinney. Zimmerman ended the night with an even +/- rating.
Igor Bobkov started in net for the Ducks and made 16 saves on 19 shots. The 6’4″ goalie used his large frame to play big. He is very solid on the ice, but he was giving up rebounds. The first two goals against were rebound goals, but both times the puck could have been cleared by the defensemen. His third goal against was a deflection where Bobkov was screened by two Phoenix forwards and 2 of his own defensemen. If Bobkov can continue to improve his game while playing in OHL, he can become a huge asset for the Ducks.
John Gibson made 14 saves on 17 shots. He finished the second period without any goals against, but an early third period goal opened the floodgates. A centering pass from below the goal line caught Gibson off guard and deflected off the goalie’s stick into the net. Gibson needs to be active with his stick and bat those passes away and not let in goals like that. Other than that, the young goalie looked sharp. The second goal against was during a scramble in the slot. The third goal was a power play goal, a one-time bomb off of a nifty drop pass that would have beaten most NHL starting goalies. The shot went high stick side that Gibson really had no chance on. Overall, Gibson was square to the shooter and in good position. He showed a solid glove hand, catching multiple long-range shots that were high. Gibson is also 6’4″ tall but doesn’t play as big as Bobkov. All-in-all, both young goalies have great potential.