Thank God for Teemu Selanne. After having a ton of scoring chances through two periods, the Ducks still found themselves down by two goals. But Teemu Selanne single-handedly stole this game for the Ducks after scoring both third period goals and the shootout winner.
The Ducks and Flyers played an up-tempo game the entire night. There were a lot of power plays for both sides and the battle of the special teams was won decisively by Philadelphia. The two teams were playing an even game with the Flyers having a slight edge resulting in a two goal lead, but you still got the feeling that all the Ducks needed was one goal to turn it around.
That goal came from Selanne. The Ducks had started to gamble halfway through the third period and the teams were trading chances. The Ducks were on a line change with Ryan Whitney controlling the puck in the Ducks’ zone when Selanne came flying off the bench. Whitney lasered a pass to him at the offensive blue line and Selanne easily skated past the Flyers defender and wristed the puck just passed the glove of Ray Emery.
You could feel the Ducks had built momentum. They continued to get scoring chances until Evgeny Artyukhin took a very untimely penalty with under four minutes to go. The Ducks were able to kill it off, though, and then continued their offensive play with Jonas Hiller pulled.
With under a minute to play, the Flyers had control of the puck through the neutral zone and took a shot at the empty net which was easily stopped by Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf and the Ducks then carried the puck into the Flyers zone with under thirty seconds left, but turned the puck over to the Flyers. On Philadelphia’s clearing attempt, Getzlaf leaped high in the air at the point to get the puck and settled it down to Bobby Ryan. Ryan tipped it to Scott Niedermayer on the half boards and then feathered a backhand pass through the slot, right onto the stick of Selanne. Selanne wasted no time and one-timed the puck into the net to tie the game with only 16 seconds left.
The overtime period saw the two teams exchange scoring chances. Hiller made a huge stop on Mike Richards with the glove hand to keep the Ducks in the game, and Ryan had chances at the other end. The game would eventually go to a shootout.
Hiller stopped Daniel Briere and Corey Perry was unsuccessful on his attempt. On the Flyers’ second attempt, Richards looked like he stumbled a little while making a move and could not convert either. Selanne’s turn saw him skate in and laser another shot to the top corner, this time deciding to go blocker side. Hiller then stopped Simon Gagne on the final attempt, giving the Ducks a huge victory.
I was getting ready to rip into Coach Randy Carlyle for changing the lineup, and I still will. Sure, a win is a win. But why would you ever change something that worked so well just two nights ago? The changes Carlyle made were not minor. He kept the defensive pairs together, Hiller in net, and kept the top line together. The other three offensive lines were changing throughout the game.
There was no reason to make those changes. The Ducks were coming off a 6-1 victory over one of the best teams in the East, and Carlyle decided to add someone to the lineup AND change the bottom three lines. Just when you thought you saw some chemistry between players, Carlyle splits them all up.
Carlyle seems like he’s still in testing mode. He could possibly be the worst preseason coach in the NHL as the eight games weren’t enough. Everyone in the NHL is arguing that the preseason is too long, and Carlyle can’t even get his lines in order.
He experimented with Saku Koivu between Petteri Nokelainen and Selanne. This was the first issue I had. The line of Ryan Carter-Koivu-Selanne played extremely well in the last game against Boston. Although that trio never scored, they had scoring chances all night long. They were fast, defensively responsible, and, most importantly, had chemistry. Carlyle decided to split them up in favor of having a team Finland line.
But the fact that Nokelainen played is an issue in itself. Not that I don’t like him. He’s actually one of my favorite players on the team. But why insert a guy who is coming off an injury into a lineup that was so successful just two nights ago? Andrew Ebbett may not have dazzled the other night but the fourth line was effective when he played, plus it gave Carlyle more offensive options.
That of course also threw off the fourth line’s chemistry with Carter in Ebbett’s place. I could go on about how this line didn’t have anything going all night either, but I’ll leave it alone for now.
Finally, in the third period, Carlyle suddenly realized the ridiculous mistakes he had been making. He quickly adjusted the lines and shortened the bench and finally the Ducks scored some goals. Coincidence? No. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Carlyle should never have mad the changes in the first place.
Of course there were other factors that led to the Ducks finally scoring in the third, including a gambling defense. But the point here is that Carlyle needs to understand that when you score six goals in a game, something is working. Don’t mess with good chemistry. We still took the two points, but we got lucky. We won’t be next time.
– Tonight is Chris Pronger’s 35th birthday. He celebrated by scoring the second goal of the game.
– In the third period, Artyukhin was hit hard by Pronger behind the Flyers’ net. Even though I’m a Ducks fan, it was fun to watch the play develop because you knew something big was going to happen when the two met.