|"Every time I step on the ice, it's going to be going over 100 percent," Brown said. I try to get energy, make big hits and make their d-men worry whenever I'm on the ice. The orther two guys on the line - Georgie and Carts - are doing the same thing. That is why we are pretty good together." |
With eight teams set to kickoff the first day of the 2009-10 NHL season tonight, the Ducks were still rigorously preparing for their opening night matchup set for Saturday against the Sharks.
Anaheim punched the clock for another two-hour practice at The Rinks – Anaheim ICE on Thursday, paying close attention to special teams and defensive zone coverage. Amid the planning for San Jose (who are in action tonight at Colorado), it appears the forward and defense combinations the Ducks will send onto the ice at Honda Center in close to 48 hours are just about set.
The top two forward lines – Ryan Getzlaf
, Corey Perry
, Bobby Ryan
and Saku Koivu
, Teemu Selanne
, Joffrey Lupul – have been widely discussed at length throughout training camp and they will get their chance to ignite the team’s offense. There is plenty of grit and toughness on an energy line of Ryan Carter, George Parros
and Mike Brown.
On the third line is where there appears to be some possibilities of mixing and matching, with Todd Marchant most likely being the constant among Evgeny Artyukhin, Erik Christensen, Petteri Nokelainen (who sat our practice with a strained groin) and Andrew Ebbett.
“The groupings of forwards we have, in our eyes complement one another,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “We are putting them in roles that we feel they can have success in. We think Koivu, Selanne and Lupul can provide a second level of scoring and maybe push our big guys. We’re comfortable with Marchant playing the third-line role and with the Carter, Brown, Parros line.”
|"As a team, we've been building," Eminger said. "This week in practice has been really key for us to figure out linemates, figure out systems and not to be second guessing ourselves in this opening game." |
Though Anaheim’s top-six forward earn much of the publicity, the proposed energy line has the potential to earn a lot of fans’ hearts with their collective penchant for hard work and lack of fear to drop the gloves at any given moment.
“I like playing with guys like that,” said Brown, who quickly became a favorite in Orange County after being acquired last February. “Every time I step on the ice, it’s going to be going over 100 percent. I try to get energy, make big hits and make their d-men worry whenever I’m on the ice. The other two guys on the line – Georgie and Carts – are doing the same thing. That is why we are pretty good together.”
Back on the blue line, it’s starting to look like the intriguing pairing of Scott Niedermayer and Luca Sbisa
will at least initially get a chance. Good friends Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski, each entering their fifth seasons in the league, will form another duo. That leaves offseason acquisitions and former Florida teammates Steve Eminger and Nick Boynton dueling with Sheldon Brookbank
for the fifth and sixth defensive spots.
“Now, we’ve got a decision to make out of the remaining three – Brookbank, Boynton and Eminger,” Carlyle said. “One of them is not going to play the first game. We’ll monitor that as we go forward, but that is the way we’ve set things up. We’ve talked about competitions for positions and that is one right there.”
Said Eminger, "As a team, we’ve been building. It’s tough to judge in preseason with different lineups and different players playing together. But this week in practice has been really key for us to figure out linemates, figure out systems and not to be second guessing ourselves in this opening game."
|"This is a totally different culture and attitude here," Boynton said. "I know you have to work hard. But just when all your guys from top to bottom buy in, that is a big difference. It's a big thrill for me." |
For the entire Ducks roster, there is realization that the long hours of pushing their bodies to the limit at their training facility will pay off. Regardless of the battles within to get on the ice or have more playing time, the united team focus needed to win has already starting to take shape.
“I’ve been unfortunately on some teams that didn’t have a shot at making the playoffs the last few years,” Boynton said. “This is a totally different culture and a different attitude here. I know you have to work hard. But just when all your guys from top to bottom buy in, that is a big difference than when you’re on a team where maybe half the guys are showing up.
“For me, it’s just been a lot of fun to be in the room with a bunch of talented players like this who have been there before and know what has to be done. It’s a big thrill for me.”