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Taking it to the Mat

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Matt Vevoda


AnaheimDucks.com

Schneider's goal Saturday night gave him his fifth straight season (and 13th overall) with 10 or more.

A testament to the depth of the Ducks defense is the fact that there was little panic associated with the recent eight-game suspension to defenseman and captain Chris Pronger. Part of the comfort level for Anaheim comes from the ability to have fellow blueliner and 18-year veteran Mathieu Schneider take on an even more prominent offensive role.

While Pronger, who leads Ducks defensemen with 12 goals, is a key component of the team’s power play with his booming slap shot, inserting Schneider alongside Scott Niedermayer on the man-advantage is hardly a hindrance. While he can’t compare to Pronger in physical stature, Schneider possesses similar offensive capabilities to the team captain.

“He’s got great vision as far as making outlet passes,” said Kent Huskins, who has served as Schneider’s defensive partner for the majority of the season. “He sets up rushes and jumps up in them. Also, he’s got a great shot from the point that he always seems to find a way to get through and on net. He can pick corners with it as well.”

In his first game helping fill the power play void of Pronger against St. Louis on Saturday, Schneider helped the unit convert with an assist on a Teemu Selanne goal 15:10 into the second period. The point was one of three for Schneider in the game, including a goal of his own during an even-strength situation late in the first period ( video) .

“He’s definitely a pleasure to play with. I try to look at the finer things that he does and the positive attitude he brings to the rink everyday. He has this poise. No matter what’s going on, he’s always a steadying presence. It’s definitely something I look to emulate.” - Kent Huskins on Schneider

“It’s not easy to score in the NHL,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “One thing you know about Schneids is he’s going to shoot the puck. He has the ability to get up on the play. You wouldn’t expect a defenseman to be driving the middle lane and to get the puck, but that’s the type of player he is.”

Personifying consistency throughout a career he’s spent with seven different organizations, Schneider’s goal Saturday was his 10th of the year. He has now topped double digits in goals 13 times, including each of the last five seasons while with Los Angeles, Detroit and Anaheim.

“It’s nice,” Schneider said. “Part of my game is being involved offensively, so I think it’s just something that’s been expected over the years.”

For a second-year player like Huskins, getting the chance to learn from defensive partner Schneider’s tendencies on a day-by-day basis has been particularly useful. Both he and Schneider are a plus-22 on the season, which leads the Ducks defense and is tied for third among league d-men.

“One thing you know about Schneids is he’s going to shoot the puck," Carlyle says. "He has the ability to get up on the play. You wouldn’t expect a defenseman to be driving the middle lane and to get the puck, but that’s the type of player he is.”

“He’s definitely a pleasure to play with,” Huskins said. “It’s great seeing a guy who has been able to play in this league at such a high level for so long. I try to look at the finer things that he does and the positive attitude he brings to the rink everyday. He has this poise. No matter what’s going on, he’s always a steadying presence. It’s definitely something I look to emulate.”

Even in the much-ballyhooed absence of Pronger that resulted in a heightened role, Schneider is unwavering in his tranquil approach to the game.

“Honestly, I don’t want to change anything,” Schneider said. “I’ve never played a different way of what’s expected of me. I don’t want to try to do too much. I don’t want to try to do more than I’m capable of. I just look to play a steady game and do the same thing night in and night out.”


NOTES
Returning to practice after a day off, the Ducks displayed some new line combinations among their forwards at Anaheim Ice on Monday. While he has played on the fourth line since his call-up from Portland and was a healthy scratch against the Blues, Bobby Ryan practiced on the team’s top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Todd Bertuzzi. The second line thus consisted of Chris Kunitz, Doug Weight and Teemu Selanne while the fourth included Todd Marchant, Brian Sutherby, George Parros and Brad May. As usual, the checking line of Travis Moen, Samuel Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer remained intact.

Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle addressed the moves after practice.

“When you put Bobby Ryan in your lineup, at some point he is going to have to play in among the top six forwards,” Carlyle said. We’ll experiment as we go forward. I like to keep two people together and have a part that is interchangeable. That’s what we’re doing in this situation. We think that with the games that are coming up, in a short three games in four nights, we’re going to have to utilize all our people.”

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