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Natural Born Killer

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com


Pushing Corey Perry’s argument for Hart Trophy consideration is not only his NHL-leading 47 goals, but his prowess on the Ducks penalty kill this season.

 “A guy like Perry can create those chances out of nowhere, even in dangerous situations,” Lydman said. “He’s capable of pulling some moves that are going to cause trouble for the other team."
It’s the first campaign in which the winger has been a full-time member of the PK unit and he has responded commendably. Perry has been able to stay there by playing sound defensively, while also chipping in four shorthanded goals (a franchise record for one season, also currently tied for fifth in the league).

“Why wasn’t he there earlier is the question I ask myself,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “I should have been using him for years.

“The thing with Corey is it’s an opportunity for him to display his talents. You always have think on the defensive side of it first. If he gives us good minutes on the defensive side of things, then he’s going to garner the opportunity to participate on the penalty killing. I don’t think you send him out on the penalty kill and think he’s going to score shorthanded goals for you.”

When Anaheim has been able to take the puck away from an opponent’s power play in recent years, the club has not had as profound of a scoring threat as Perry to turn to. Even when a man down, he has proven to his teammates that he can still come through on the scoresheet.

 “A guy like Perry can create those chances out of nowhere, even in dangerous situations,” said defenseman Toni Lydman, another mainstay on this season’s penalty killing unit. “He’s capable of pulling some moves that are going to cause trouble for the other team. Sometimes the power plays are not prepared to play defense. Usually they are not as hard on the back check. That is when a guy like Corey can turn things around.”

In a game where momentum is so important and can swing from one team to the other in the blink of an eye, a shorthanded goal is an emphatic way of getting things turned in your favor.

“If you look at the minutes played, the number of big goals that he’s scored and the opportunities that he’s helped create for our hockey club, I don’t know if there is a player playing better in the league," Carlyle said. "We are very fortunate to have Corey Perry in our lineup."
Down 4-2 to Dallas in the second period last Sunday, Perry took the puck away from Jamie Langenbrunner on a Stars power play, rushed down to the other end of the ice and flipped a backhander in for a goal (his fourth shorthander of the year, which bested the previous franchise high of three set by four other players). That helped Anaheim get the crowd back in the game, and Anaheim came so close late in the third to tying the game.

“Any time you can get a goal when you are down a man, it definitely picks up the team a little bit,” Perry said. “It can be a turning point in a game or series at any point. It’s fun when you get to play in those situations.”

In each of his six seasons in the league, Perry has been thrust more and more into critical scenarios by Carlyle. Just as his point total have increased each campaign, so too has his average time of ice. From 11:34 as a rookie in 2005-06, he gradually worked up to 21:03 last season (10th in the league among forwards). Aided with newfound penalty kill time, he is currently at 22:09 (second in the league among forwards).

“I’ve looked at it and said I should be giving him more,” Carlyle said. “I’ve been critical and thought maybe I should leave him on a second full power play instead of pulling him off. I have a 47-goal scorer; what am I doing taking him off the ice in certain situations? You don’t get as tired on the power play as you do on the penalty kill. It’s amazing.

“If you look at the minutes played, the number of big goals that he’s scored and the opportunities that he’s helped create for our hockey club, I don’t know if there is a player playing better in the league. We are very fortunate to have Corey Perry in our lineup. We know what kind of player he is. He has demonstrated a tremendous amount of leadership.”
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