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Adam Brady is the Director of Publications & New Media for the Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center. Email him by CLICKING HERE.

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Updated Feb. 29 at 3:14 p.m.

If you're into this sort of thing, SI.com has a photo gallery of ice girls from around the NHL. Our own Ducks Power Player, Brooklyn (the only Power Player with a Master's Degree, by the way), is looking good in photos 28 and 29.

Finally, if you haven't seen this women's basketball coach meltdown already, this is precious. Shouldn't he have saved this talk for his own team? My favorite part is the way he enters the room, with a slam on the podium and a "that's how I feel." That's followed by a mysterious hand (probably the PR guy) trying to steady something before getting slapped away.

Updated Feb. 29 at 1:07 p.m.

After the Ducks played 12 games in the first 24 days of February, these last four days without a game have seemed like an eternity. So it will be nice to see the Ducks on the ice again tonight at Honda Center, as they take on Calgary for the second time in less than two weeks (another quirk of the always-quirky NHL schedule).

The Flames will no doubt be looking for some redemption tonight after Anaheim scored four in the second period against Miikka Kiprusoff to roll to a 4-2 victory. But since that game, Kipper's been a new man. Two days after losing to the Ducks, he gave up just one goal in a 4-1 victory over Phoenix, then shutout Detroit, of all teams, 1-0. Shockingly, it was the first shutout of the year from a guy who had 10 in 2005-06 and seven last year. 

Calgary reeled off four straight wins after falling to the Ducks, before going down 3-2 in overtime at home against Colorado last night. So, they come in tonight playing some pretty decent hockey, and like the Ducks they're looking to climb those Western Conference standings.

The Ducks fell a little bit more behind in the Pacific last night, eight points to be exact, when Dallas pulled off a resounding 7-4 victory last night at home. Our favorite goalie, Patrick Lalime had a heck of a night, giving up five goals on the Stars' first 13 shots, before getting pulled. This time he stayed out for good. Dallas trade deadline pickup Brad Richards had a decent debut, matching a franchise record with five assists. If it wasn't against the Blackhawks, I'd be pretty darn worried about the impact Richards is having. As it is, I'm still a little worried.

There is an interesting story on ESPN.com about the Richards trade and the impact it had on all of those involved.

Back to the Ducks, the return of Todd Marchant and Doug Weight tonight would appear to be a longshot after both were among a handful of Ducks to skate extra this morning. Not only that, but Andrew Ebbett has quietly returned to the team, after going down to Portland at the beginning of this week, picking up three assists in a 5-1 win over Norfolk on Tuesday, then coming right back. There will be an official announcement from the Ducks later today about Ebbett's recall. I wouldn't expect Weight or Marchant until Monday at least.

Joe DiPenta was also among the Ducks skating longer, which would probably indicate that Marc-Andre Bergeron will make his debut tonight.

As you can see in the story I posted earlier, Chris Pronger was in a pretty good mood (all things considered) when talking to reporters about his jaw surgery. He admitted that his line about being out "1 week to six weeks" was uttered in hope that the reporters would print it and get Randy Carlyle riled up. We'll see about that. I would guess we'll see him out a week at the most.

Here's my question: With Pronger out, who's the Ducks captain tonight? Is it Scotty? Randy Carlyle left before speaking to reporters after the skate today, apparently feeling under the weather. So, no one was able to ask him about that.

By the way, it's Leap Day (is that what it's called?), which made me look up the Ducks' record on this particular day. They are undefeated in their long history, a 4-2 win at San Jose on Feb. 29, 2000 and a 6-3 win at home over the Kings on Feb. 29, 2004

Happy birthday to anyone celebrating a birthday today. Is it true if you're birthday is on Feb. 29 and you're 32 years old, you're really only eight? Ever wonder where Leap Day came from? Here you go.

By the way, quite a scene last night during Idol elimination. So much for being "mature for a 17-year-old." I was just relieved they didn't dump Kady. That was a close call.

Updated Feb. 28 at 3:18 p.m.

There's a reason I haven't posted anything in this space until now. I've got absolutely nothing.

Thank God for the trade deadline on Tuesday. That at least gave me two days' worth of material. But with the Ducks not having played since Sunday night, the well is dry.

I can tell you the Ducks practiced for the second day in a row at Anaheim Ice with Bergeron, Marchant and Weight. Randy Carlyle was asked about the possibility of Marchant and/or  Weight returning to the lineup tomorrow night against Calgary and he gave nothing. "Nothing has changed," was about all he offered.

I'd love to talk about the Calgary game, but I'll save that for tomorrow morning.

Speaking of the trade deadline, San Jose parted with young and talented forward Steve Bernier to get  d-man Brian Campbell from Buffalo and Bernier had a monster night in his Sabres debut, an eye-opening 8-4 victory over Nashville. Brandon Bochenski was a scratch in that game for the Preds. I don't think he was scheduled to practice with the team until today.

Talk about bouncing back, headcase Patrick Lalime rebounded from his nightmare game against the Ducks on Sunday night (in which he gave up five goals) to shut out Phoenix 1-0 at home with 32 saves. Now there's a bet I would have lost. Not only that, but he didn't attack a single player in the game.

The always-good Marcia Smith has a nice story in today's O.C. Register about the Ducks Wives and Significant Others Fashion Show from yesterday. Here's a highlight: When urged to model his apparel, the sly Selanne walked his fingers suggestively to his waist and – cue striptease music – raised a corner of his untucked shirt, exposing some torso for his wardrobe (mal)function.

Real sorry I missed that.

So, with nothing more to say about the Ducks for today, let me focus on other interests. I thought the last two nights of "American Idol" were mostly disappointing, with the exception of a couple of singers. That kid David Archuleta was outstanding with his rendition of "Imagine" and I like him to go very far in this thing. That is, if people don't tire of his seemingly genuine innocence. The opposite of that innocence can be found in Kady Malloy, the girl who does the Britney impression. The girl is hot and can sing, and I'd like to see her last in this thing. But last night wasn't her best. Syesha Mercado will likely go far in this thing. I like her a lot.

Meanwhile, here's who I can't stand: Amanda Overmyer, the "rocker" chick? Awful to look at. Awful to listen to. She's got to go. Danny Noriega? I'd rather listen to General Noriega. The kid is this close to wearing a scrunchy on stage. Luke Menard, the guy who looks like a mix of Luke Perry, Orlando Bloom and the dad from "My Two Dads"? You know, the one that wasn't Paul Reiser? I think his time is just about up (just like the "My Two Dads" guy). Jason Yeager, the overly smily cheeseball? I've got two words to describe his future career hopes: Princess and Cruises.

And, while I'm at it, is anyone else just a little bit tired of Randy Jackson and his constant catchphrases? Does he need to say "Yo, check it out" before every critique? Randy, the camera is on you and your mic is on. We're already checking it out. And by the way, dude, no one has said "yo" with a straight face since 1995. Enough already.

See, I told you I had nothing.

Updated Feb. 27 at 12:48 p.m.

It's a little more than 24 hours after yesterday's trade deadline, and I for one am happy with what the Ducks did (or more to the point, didn't do) yesterday. So many rumors in the days leading up to the deadline (the sources of which remain dubious), pointed to the Ducks picking up a Hossa or a Sundin or a Jokinen, with the possibility of Anaheim dangling that Edmonton first round pick and/or Bobby Ryan.

As Brian Burke put it, "Anaheim could have been the star, by putting Edmonton’s pick in play. We could have blown all the other deals out of the water, grabbed all the hype, but it was not prudent to do so because we believe in our group, and I believe that pick will have tremendous value to this franchise over the next decade.”

And you have to believe the same thing about Bobby Ryan, seeing what he was able to accomplish over the few games he played during his second call-up this year. It's ironic that the acquisition of Brandon Bochenski essentially pushed Ryan back to Portland, and now Bochenski is gone to Nashville. We'll see if Ducks fans see Ryan again this regular season or postseason.

Yesterday Burke touched on the situation with Ryan, saying "There was a great deal of interest in Bobby Ryan. We felt it’s his time. He’s put in his time two years in juniors. He’s put in his time in the minors. If we get in the situation where we have a top six forward spot open, then we’re going to give that spot to Bobby rather than bring in an outsider."

It's a tremendous testament to this team that Burke didn't tinker all that much with it, yet the Ducks still came out of yesterday's extravaganza as a favorite to win this thing again. The beauty of yesterday's relative inactivity is that Burke sent a message to the Ducks players, fans and the rest of the league that "we believe in our group. Spending valuable assets to bring people in to take jobs that are currently held by people you trust and believe in doesn’t make sense."

Meanwhile, the Ducks had to be hesitant to mortgage their future on a guy they might only have over the next few months, which is exactly what Pittsburgh curiously did. The message the Penguins sent yesterday is that they want to break to the top of a wide-open Eastern Conference right now. But if that doesn't happen, a team that seemingly had a glorious future ahead of them with Crosby, Malkin and Staal, gave away a lot more of that future to get Hossa.

While the Ducks are undoubtedly thinking Stanley Cup again, they still have to consider the fact that Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne are longshots at best to come back beyond this season. That's the constant battle GMs have to fight, especially around deadline time. It's often either win now or win later. But for the Ducks, it's both.

It will be interesting to see how Marc-Andre Bergeron fits in, especially after Chris Pronger comes back from that jaw surgery. Bergeron was Pronger's defensive partner in Edmonton (and the two shined together). That would seem to point toward Sean O'Donnell's ice time disintegrating, but that remains to be seen. Again, it's too far ahead to determine whether Bergeron will be with the Ducks beyond this spring, but with the possible departure (again) of Niedermayer, at least Bergeron would be an option.

More good news for the Ducks: Both Todd Marchant and Doug Weight are likely to come back very soon after both have been out with shoulder injuries. Marchant missed the last two games and Weight hadn't played since Feb. 10. Weight also played hurt for a month since injuring the shoulder Jan. 13 against San Jose, which is part of the reason Burke said, "We don’t think our fans have even gotten to see him yet." Both Marchant and Weight practiced today, though Weight still had his shoulder bandaged (more on that in a feature on the site later). If he comes back within the next couple of games, that's great news for a guy who I had heard might be out longer than was indicated.

It seems like forever since the Ducks have had everyone healthy, and even with Weight and Marchant back, they're still without Ryan Carter for several weeks. Those injuries combined with the belated returns of Niedermayer and Selanne have contributed to the slow development of a team that may indeed be better than last year's Stanley Cup champ. Leave it to Burkie to find the perfect simile for that slow build.

"Watching our team come together is like watching a bear wake up at the zoo," Burke said yesterday. "He shakes his arms out and he shakes his legs out and it's a process. But when he's awake, he's a bear."

Updated Feb. 26 at 9:16 p.m

A couple thoughts about the deadline deals before bedtime:

The late word is that Brian Burke picked up J.S. Aubin because he couldn't stand the thought of not having both of the league's Jean-Sebastiens (and if I'm not mistaken, the only two in NHL history). This was extremely important to him. Although, Burkie was hesitant to pull the trigger based on the lack of poise Aubin showed in this commercial. I still can't figure out how he was cast in that. Here's hoping he's somehow called up to the big club so we can do an in-depth feature on just how that came about.

Meanwhile, when do you think the Coyotes will realize they got the wrong Hossa? I wonder if they're in some bar in Scottsdale right now, clinking their glasses together and going "and we only gave up Sjostrom, LeNeveu and Gratton! What a bunch of suckers!"

Okay, that's enough for now.

Updated Feb. 26 at 3:18 p.m.

It's official that the Ducks have acquired defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron from the Islanders. Anaheim also picked up goalie J.S. Aubin from the Kings and defenseman Jay Leach from Tampa Bay. Both of those players will immediately report to Portland. And finally, Anaheim sent Brandon Bochenski to Nashville for future considerations. We'll let you know what those are when we hear.

The one deal of immediate concern is Bergeron, which is a nice pickup for a Ducks team seemingly already stacked at the defenseman position. Bergeron is a mobile d-man who had eight goals on the power play this season, tied for first in the league (with Chris Pronger, among others). Bergeron was also paired with Pronger on that 2006 conference champion Oilers team, so pairing those two again might be a possibility.

Bergeron may be only 5'10" and 179, but he's got a rocket of a shot, part of the reason he has all those PP goals. Take a look at a few highlights. My favorite is the one at the 40-second mark. His shot was once clocked at 103.5 MPH at an Oilers skills competition.
In the meantime, word on the street is that Pronger had surgery on that mouth/jaw injury he suffered Sunday night. Whether he misses any time remains to be seen. We'll have more on that later.

Also, Andrew Ebbett was sent to Portland today, which would seem to indicate that Todd Marchant's return is imminent.

So, that's what's going on with the Ducks on a day when several Western Conference teams (including two in the Pacific) made improvements. The scariest one may be the Dallas acquisition of a highly coveted player at this deadline, center Brad Richards, who came over from Tampa Bay. Richards had 18 goals and 50 points this season, but hasn't quite been the player he was a couple of years ago. He won the Conn Smythe with Tampa in 2004, which seems ages ago by now. Meanwhile, Richards is paid $7.8 million per season, which was part of the reason the Stars had to dump three players to get him.

Dallas shipped out goalie Mike Smith (who has killed the Ducks a couple of times), center Jeff Halpern and forward Jussi Jokinen. Neither Jikinen (18 goals) nor Halpern (14 goals) were huge scorers for the Stars, but they were each a significant part of the offense. To fill in for Smith's absence, Dallas also picked up goalie Johan Holmqvist. The stars are also missing big-time defenseman Sergei Zubov for the next three or four weeks after he had foot surgery.

San Jose made a nice pickup in All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell, who is probably one of the best blue liners in the league. The Sharks did have to give up up-and-comer Steve Bernier and a 1st round pick to get him. Campbell was noticeably emotional when he was interviewed on the air after the trade.

"I'm getting over it. I'm starting to get all packed up here and ready to go," Campbell said. "Obviously the initial shock … I had a lot of good years in Buffalo. I had a feeling it was coming. I didn't know it was coming. Once it happens it hits home pretty fast. I'm looking forward to (playing with San Jose) now."

Minnesota landed embattled enforcer Chris Simon, despite the fact they already have Derek Boogaard and Todd Fedoruk. Guess the Wild are sensitive to the fact they were beat up by the Ducks in the first round last year. But I don't think becoming hockey's answer to the Oakland Raiders is the answer.

The biggest deal out East came (like the Ducks' trades) just before the deadline, as former Thrasher Marian Hossa -- the subject of trade rumors involving several teams -- was snagged by Pittsburgh in a curious move by the Penguins. They gave up three players under 26 years old -- Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen and highly lauded prospect Angelo Esposito -- and a first-round pick to get Hossa and winger Pascal Dupuis. That was a lot of the future Pittsburgh gave away to get Hossa, who will be a free agent this summer and has "rental" written all over him.

Today's action reminds me a bit of the trade deadline day last year, when several Western Conference teams upgraded, including San Jose (Bill Guerin), Detroit (Todd Bertuzzi) and Nashville (Peter Forsberg), while the Ducks only picked up Brad May. But we all know what happened after that.

Despite the fact the Ducks didn't pick up any marquee players, the guys on TSN have still been lauding Anaheim as the favorite in the Western Conference, if not the entire league.

We'll have comments from Brian Burke, who is on a media conference call as we speak, in a couple minutes.

Updated Feb. 26 at 1:17 p.m.

Because of the flurry of activity today, the NHL is having some technical difficulties. Part of that is our home page not updating right now, so be patient with us for that.

More importantly, there is a delay with the communications between the league and its teams in finalizing deals. Because of that, those Ducks trades you've been hearing about (and that I've listed below) aren't exactly official yet. But you can bet they will be soon.

I'm also hearing that the Ducks have dealt Brandon Bochenski. Stay tuned for that as well.

Updated Feb. 12 at 12:30 p.m.

The Ducks have acquired goalie J.S. Aubin from the Kings for a seventh-round pick.

Updated Feb. 26 at 12:23 p.m.

We're getting word that the Ducks have acquired defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron from the Islanders for a third-round pick. I'm also hearing that the Ducks have a couple more deals possibly in the works. Stay tuned.

Updated Feb. 26 at 10:31 a.m.

In case you missed it, Brian Burke just spoke on the air about where the Ducks stand with about 90 minutes to go before the deadline. He made it clear the Ducks are not in the running for either Marian Hossa of Atlanta or Olli Jokinen of Florida.

Here is the audio:

(Click here if you can't play it below)



Updated Feb. 26 at 10:01 a.m.

Okay, we're knee-deep in NHL trading with two hours to go before the noon (PST) deadline.

The Ducks haven't made a deal as of yet, but their rivals in the Pacific have made significant deals. Dallas picked up coveted forward Brad Richards from Tampa Bay, as well as goalie Johan Holmqvist, from Tampa Bay for goalie Mike Smith and forwards Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern. Meanwhile, San Jose acquired All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell from Buffalo for forward Steve Bernier and a first-round pick.

We'll have some commentary on those trades (and possibly more later).

Brian Burke is supposed to be on TSN and NHL Network's live coverage of the wheelings and dealings. Click here for that coverage.

Updated Feb. 25 at 11:33 a.m.

It usually goes without saying that on a weekend, Friday night is a lot more exciting than Sunday night. But that wasn't the case with the two Ducks games over the past few days.

Granted, Friday night's 2-1 overtime triumph over the St. Louis Blues was somewhat engaging, especially if you're a Sammy Pahlsson guy (like myself). But it had nothing on last night's extravaganza, a 6-3 win over Chicago. Last night's game was only more enjoyable to watch if you like lots of scoring, hat tricks by legendary players, fighting, three different Ducks having at least three points, controversial calls and a fight between a Ducks forward and the opposing goalie, who had lost his mind and was acting like an idiot.

Where do you start on a game like that? Let's start with man of the night, one Teemu Selanne, who did a little bit more than just notch his 20th career hat trick (11th as a Duck). It was nice of Teemu to throw in three goals on a night he pocketed $1.2 million just for stepping on the ice. That's the bonus amount he was promised when he signed last month for playing at least 10 games. 

I think it's safe to say that the renowned Selanne hands, which he was worried might take some time to catch up after this comeback, have safely arrived. “The last week or so, I’ve felt great,” Selanne said last night. “My body is back. It’s fun to skate. Every stride is enjoyable. The last two, three games, I’ve had some really good chances. It was good to see those pucks go in.”

It was written in this space when Selanne first came back to be careful about high expectations early, since he got off to a slow start last year with just one goal in his first 12 games. But lo and behold, he has six goals in those 10 games, a 0.6 goal-per-game average that is actually higher than the 0.59 he had last year when he netted 48.

That figure was of course boosted by last night's hattie, and wouldn't you know the third one was the most dramatic of all. First of all, credit has to go to Chris Kunitz on this play, who made a beautiful tape-to-tape pass to Selanne in the slot, as the Flash expertly redirected it inside the post. Not to condone such a thing, but I thought that as long as fans were throwing hats on the ice for Selanne's third goal, they should have been thrown in Lalime's direction. Just a thought.

The goal was substantial not only because it extended the Ducks' tenuous lead to 5-3, but because it came at the expense of Patrick Lalime, who minutes earlier had gone after Todd Bertuzzi unprovoked -- and for the second time in the game. Lalame (oops, that's Lalime) tried to break up Bertuzzi's move to the net on a 2-on-1 rush, leading to a collision between the two that knocked Bertuzzi off his skates. After the puck headed the other way, Lalime found reason to punch Bertuzzi in the back of the head. That sparked a rare fight between a forward and goalie that knocked Lalime's mask off  his head and included just about every Duck on the ice.

Lalime's aggression was a carryover from the second period, when he slashed Bertuzzi from behind after Bertuzzi was merely screening the goalie on a Mathieu Schneider slap shot on the 5 on 3. That goal by Schneider was waved off, which had to be one of the worst calls in the history of the NHL. Replays clearly showed Bertuzzi never touched Lalime, especially during the shot. Earlier in the play, Lalime had pushed Bertuzzi hard from behind and Bertuzzi kind of turned to look at him as if to say, "What was that for?" But when Schneider's shot was on its way to the net, Bertuzzi was merely standing in the way. Here it the explanation he got from the official, Brad Watson:

“He said there is some kind of rule change, or they’re changing it,” Bertuzzi said. “He said you can’t be in (the goalie’s) path when he’s trying to slide out. Even if you’re not in the paint, you have to give him his way to come out and challenge. It doesn’t make sense. I’m not in the paint, but I have to move over and give him more leeway to come out?"

Wait a minute. There's some kind of rule change? Care to inform the players about that one? Very strange. The shame of it was not just that it denied the Ducks from taking a 5-2 lead in that period (which thankfully became inconsequential). But Selanne set up Schneider for the one-timer, and that would have given Selanne six points in the game, which is a franchise record. Instead he had to settle for tying that mark.

The irony of the whole thing is that Lalime was pulled in the first after giving up two goals on just five shots, and then was put back in for the start of the second. What was the talk in the locker room? "No, Patrick, we need you to stop pucks. Now get back out there and good luck."

And how satisfying was it that not only did Selanne score that late goal on Lalime, but that Kunitz added another one just 44 seconds later, and off the wrong foot, no less. Kunitz, who is quietly playing fantastically lately (and frankly, all season) matched his career high with four points. Meanwhile, Ryan Getzlaf had another three-point game while Jonas Hiller played very well in a rare start.

Anyway, great win for Anaheim, but there was one negative on the night, as if the Ducks need more injury problems. Patrick Sharp's goal was a tough blow because it came right off the faceoff, and most people didn't even realize what happened partly because Chris Pronger went flailing to the ice after taking Sharp's stick blade to the mouth on the follow-through. Pronger immediately left the ice holding his mouth. According to Randy Carlyle, Pronger took “a gash across the bottom of his lip and lost some teeth” but he's not expected to miss any games.

It should help him that the Ducks don't practice today or tomorrow and don't play again until Friday night against Calgary.

I want to mention something about Friday's win, which was a strange one in that there was no scoring in regulation except for a two-minute stretch in the third. But Pahlsson's goal to win it in OT was beautiful not only because it was a great one-timer past a goalie (Manny Legace) who had given the Ducks fits in the past two games. And not only because Rob Niedermayer made a pinpoint pass just past Legace's stick to Pahlsson at the top of the slot. But also because Pahlsson beat a guy named Paul Kariya to the spot to get in position for that pass.

Kariya took the expected boos from the Honda Center faithful whenever he touched the puck, but the reception was nice for Andy McDonald, who was honored with a video tribute in the first period and waved to the crowd from the bench. I could have sworn the reception for Bryz was louder, which I thought was strange. But I liked Andy's quote after the game: "What a nice thing to do for a former player. I certainly was treated well while I was here and you saw it again tonight. To see that kind of reception from the fans is quite an honor. I saw a lot of signs during the warm up and the fans treated me great while I was here and then again tonight.  I’m going to have nothing but positive memories about being here and I will always cherish my time here in Anaheim."

As I mentioned earlier, the Ducks don't practice for the next two days, so the primary focus today and tomorrow is the NHL trade deadline, which comes at noon Pacific tomorrow. We'll see what kind of moves the Ducks make, especially in light of the absences of Doug Weight and Ryan Carter at center (Marchant should be back soon). Brian Burke did speak to season seat holders prior to the game and told them, "We get Doug Weight back in a week, so there is no reason to fill that hole." He also said, "I like my team" during an on-air interview during the first intermission last night and reiterated that he's not traditionally a guy who makes a lot of deals at the deadline. One thing we do know is that Mats Sundin is off the market, as he just announced he won't waive his no trade clause.

Last thing for now: A reader named Doug has sent me this photo of Nicholas II, who apparently was the Czar of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Does he look like a certain Ducks goalie to you? Freaky. 

On more last thing: My uncle, Michael Fink, won an Oscar last night for Best Visual Effects on the movie "The Golden Compass."

Updated Feb. 22 at 12:38 p.m.

Remember the first time you saw Gretzky in a Kings uniform? Jordan in a Washington Wizards jersey? Johnny Damon in Yankees pinstripes? It was kind of strange, wasn't it?

Ducks fans will be going through something similar when they see Andy McDonald skating around the Honda Center ice clad in St. Louis blue and gold. For longtime Ducks fans, it will be akin to the first time they saw Paul Kariya in a Colorado Avalanche uniform, a memory that still makes some fans wince. Of course, tonight will also be the first time Ducks fans will see Kariya in that Blues uni at Honda Center.

Kariya, McDonald and the rest of the Blues are coming into tonight's game having taken a severe beating last night from the Kings at Staples Center. St. Louis let through four goals in the second period on the way to a 5-1 loss to a team that seemingly gave up on this season months ago. Only a Martin Rucinsky power play goal with 4:02 left kept the Blues from being shut out by, of all people, Dan Cloutier. Yes, Dan Cloutier is back and he's pitching near-shutouts!

So, you can look at tonight's matchup both ways. Either the Blues come in here tonight having played some awful hockey, or they come in angrily looking to bounce back. It was actually a very out-of-character game for a Blues team that had posted 5-1 wins over Columbus and Chicago in the previous two games. Manny Legace, who was pulled in that second period, hadn't given up more than two goals in any of his previous six games.

It will be interesting to see if Legace gets the nod for the second game of a back-to-back, especially considering that last night was his 18th straight start. He was a major problem for the Ducks in that 1-0 shootout loss on the second game of the monster road trip on Feb. 1. The St. Louis backup is a 23-year-old named Chris Beckford-Tseu, who may or may not be related to male model Tyson Beckford. There is a slight resemblance.

It will be interesting to see the response McDonald and Kariya get tonight from the Ducks faithful. Clearly, Kariya will continue to get booed (as he usually does) for the way he left town after the '03 season. But McDonald's departure was someone else's decision, and he will be honored tonight with a video montage, as Ilya Bryzgalov was. For the Ducks' sake, let's hope the tribute has the same effect on Mac that it did on Bryz, who let through a soft goal minutes after he acknowledged the crowd.

The Ducks will likely have new call-up Andrew Ebbett in the lineup tonight to account for the injury absences of Ryan Carter, Todd Marchant and Doug Weight. Brian Sutherby will probably also be on the ice tonight. There is also the possibility of Todd Bertuzzi and even Teemu Selanne at center, after Bertuzzi filled in at that position after Carter and Marchant went down against Colorado and Selanne skated there a bit in practice. But of course, Randy Carlyle didn't divulge his plans.

"I'm trying to be as vague as possible," he told reporters yesterday. "Can't you tell?"

Yes, Randy. We can.

We have a bit of an upgrade from the audio recording of Teemu Selanne's stint on "Jim Rome is Burning" from yesterday. A reader named David has posted it on YouTube. This one thankfully doesn't have the audio cutting in and out and my phone ringing in the background.

I was reading in the paper this morning about the proposed name change for John Wayne Airport to include the words "Orange County" in it, and I was deeply offended. No, not offended by the name change (since I've never quite understood why it was named after John Wayne anyway), but the objection that Wayne's son Ethan presented. Ethan wrote that it's "funny that an airport named after one of the most-recognizable personalities in recent American history is being deemed 'too confusing' just as a glut of moronic shows lionizing Orange County and its residents pepper televisions in houses across the nation."

"Moronic shows"? How dare you, Ethan. "The OC" was an excellent program (at least for the first two seasons). And if you're talking about "Real Housewives of Orange County," those are fighting words. I know you're not talking about "Arrested Development," my man.

Speaking of "The OC," does the proposed new logo for Orange County developed by tourism people look a little familiar to you?

One last piece of local news. I was glad to learn that there are planned renovations to the Big "A" sign along the 57 freeway at Los Angeles Angels Stadium of Anaheim Make a Left on Katella If You Hit Disneyland You've Gone Too Far (or whatever they're calling it now). The message board on the "A" has been a blank black (aside from a couple of stray light dots) for a good long time now. And I've never heard a good explanation as to why that is. Does anyone know? Feel free to email me on that one.

Updated Feb. 21 at 1:52 p.m.

For those of you who actually work for a living (likely) or don't have a DVR (appalling), I made an audio recoring of Teemu Selanne's appearance on "Jim Rome is Burning" from a few minutes ago. Please excuse the low audio quality in the first few minutes, not to mention the phone ringing at around the 4 1/2-minute mark. Beggars can't be choosers.

By the way, the over/under on how many times Teemu would say "on the same hand" in the interview was 2, so if you took the over, you're a winner.

(Click here if you can't play it below)


Updated Feb. 21 at 9:59 a.m.

Remember when you were in school and you had a test the next morning that you were completely dreading? Remember only studying enough so you'd barely pass? That's a little like what the Ducks did last night against the Colorado Avalanche.

In a game that could have easily been a blowout, the Ducks ended up doing just enough to pull out the win in a shootout. That's not to say the Ducks didn't put forth the effort to do it in regulation, although the five shots on goal in each of the first two periods left a little to be desired. Heck, the 1-0 score after one period could have easily been 3-0 or 4-0 when you consider the Corey Perry breakaway that hit the bottom edge of the crossbar, the Teemu Selanne wraparound that coasted horizontally along the goal stripe and, even more glaring, the Chris Kunitz tip-in that was ruled to be deflected with a high stick. I thought that call was pretty suspect, but it's one of those things where there wasn't clear enough evidence to reverse the call on the ice. I never thought the officials had the best camera angle to make a ruling on that one.

With all of those close calls, and against a team they clearly outclass, the Ducks still needed Rob Niedermayer's deflection goal to tie the thing and eventually force the overtime and shootout. Much of the credit on that goal goes to Chris Pronger, who was probably the only player on the ice able to reach up and snag this puck. He then had the presence of mind to quickly put it on the ice and drill the shot that Niedermayer tipped in behind him.

And of course, all the credit in the world goes to J.S. Giguere, who continued his run of great play in the month of February, this time thwarting the three attempts in the shootout. Although, in fairness, one of the shots went over the cage and the other was a weak dribbler by Wojtek Wolski that Giguere easily covered. But the stop on the third attempt was a nice one, as Giguere easily gloved Milan Hejduk's shot, then briefly held the gloved puck aloft for his teammates and the crowd to see.

With the win, the Ducks snatched two points on a night when both Dallas and San Jose lost. That pulled Anaheim to within four points of Dallas for the top spot in the Pacific, and the Stars are the only team that has played the same number of games as the Ducks

But there was some bad news last night. Ryan Carter left in the first period and never returned after a check into the wall by Jeff Finger, and it looked grim for Carter. Some thought it might be a separated shoulder or even a broken arm, but the initial report was a bruised forearm. Meanwhile, Todd Marchant also suffered a shoulder bruise in the second and didn't come back. We'll hear more today as both players undergo MRI exams. Although, I can tell you that Carter is walking around here with his forearm wrapped and ice on his shoulder. Not a great sign.

Here's a stat that I didn't know about. Mathieu Schneider last night extended his streak of 27 straight games in which he has finished with a plus or even for the night. It's the longest active string in the league and only three games short of the longest in the NHL this season. Schneider is +15 in those games.

We've added a new page to the website that will show you a comparison of the Ducks' record over the last three years after a certain amount of games. For example, you can see that after 64 this year, Anaheim is 34-23-07, that last year at this point they were 37-17-10 and that two years ago they were 31-21-12. Of course, during that point in the 2005-06 season they were in the midst of a run of nine wins in 10 games. Right now this Ducks team has won seven of eight.

We've also added this photo zoom thing that will allow us to add a photo to a page, then you can click it to blow it up bigger. It might be put to use on this page in particular, where I don't like to run photos too large because I don't want them taking too much attention from my brilliant prose.

One last thing for the morning. Here's another example of why proposing marriage in a public setting is never a good idea. On the bright side, if you're going to get your proposal turned down, it always helps to be comforted by a giant grey bear and a tall cup of beer. Then again, an NBA All-Star laughing at you doesn't help. (Thanks to reader Vinnie for sending this one over.)

We'll have more later after the Ducks practice this afternoon.


Updated Feb. 20 at 1:46 p.m.

There isn't a ton of obvious intrigue involved with tonight's battle against Colorado at Honda Center. The Ducks will be looking to build off their win over Calgary on Sunday night and keep things going on this homestand. Meanwhile, they're facing a Colorado team that's had its troubles as of late. The Avs have lost four in a row, managing just three goals during that span. Monday night they served as willing sacrificial lambs to put a stop to Detroit's six-game losing skid, falling 4-0. Colorado only managed 18 shots in getting shut out by Chris Osgood, while Detroit put 40 on Jose Theodore. The Ducks will be looking for their fourth straight win against Colorado.

Both Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny got back to practice for Colorado after suffering from serious groin injuries, but there is no word on when they will make their return to the lineup. I'm guessing tonight is a longshot for Sakic, though Stastny might be a possibility.

Ryan Smyth, who had been out with an ankle injury, has played the last three games and will make his first appearance against Anaheim this year. Let's hope J.S. Giguere doesn't find reason to attack Smyth again, like he did two seasons ago after Smyth basically slashed Giguere's arm as he was trying to make a save. Take a look at this video for a reminder, which is interesting not just because of Giguere losing his cool, but look at the guy who scored the goal then reacts with a look of shock as the goalie skates angrily past him.

NHL.com has a nice story (albeit a bit outdated) on Scott Niedermayer's comeback from semi-retirement. I liked Brian Burke's comment: "What was the quote about Alexander The Great? He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. Well, that’s probably what was affecting Scotty as well."

I seem to remember Scotty saying the same thing. Maybe not.

I slogged through the two hours of the top 12 men performing on "American Idol" last night, which was highly entertaining. Not because of the level of singing (although there are about four or five contenders out of the group), but because of the fact that we may have the most ... ahem ... effeminate group of male semifinalists in "Idol" history. Should be an interesting season. Can't wait to see what the girls have to offer tonight, though I'll have to watch it on the DVR after the game tonight.

Updated Feb. 19 at 5:18 p.m.

TSN's website is causing a flashback to last June in their latest Power Rankings. They're current No. 1? That's right, your Anaheim Ducks. According to TSN, "The Ducks have won six of seven and they're starting to look like the class of the league now that they have a full roster and February tailspins from previous leaders opens the door for a new team in top spot."

Meanwhile, just below Anaheim is the Ottawa Senators. And Nos. 27 and 30 are both satisfying to Ducks fans.

More from TSN, Brian Burke is among the guys at the current GMs meetings in Florida to recommend the NHL switch to just one minute for minors in overtime. Let's forget about the obvious comment that the boss of the league's most-penalized team wants to limit time in the box for penalties.

At first glance, it sounds like a legitimate idea, since a two-minute penalty accounts for 40 percent of an entire five-minute overtime period. But then again, I'm hesitant to make any rules that inhibit goals in overtime. I'd rather see a game decided in overtime than in a shootout. And I don't think I'm the only one.

The breakout group that Burke was a part of at the meeting also discussed other issues, including "carry-over suspensions from prior seasons; high-sticking penalties and whether it should remain an automatic four-minute penalty for drawing blood; and the instigator rule."

I'm in favor of getting rid of that four-minute high sticking minor. I've never quite understood that rule. A high stick is a high stick. It shouldn't be more of a penalty just because you cut a guy. What if he has weak skin? Is that your fault? You've almost got fans of the struck player's team rooting for blood on those plays, just so you can get a longer power play. You don't get a four-minute hooking minor if the guy you hook falls to the ice, do you? I say get rid of that one.

Or, leave it the same. Either way.

Updated Feb. 19 at 1:34 p.m.

I've been here at Honda Center for the last two playoff series, and I thought I had felt it get loud in here. But those were nothing compared to what I just witnessed at today's First Flight Field Trip. More than 16,000 kids packed into the arena, where they watched the Ducks practice and learned mathematics as it tied into the action on the ice.

That was followed by a skills competition, in which the entire arena was split into two teams, those representing the Black Team and those representing the White Team. Then the Ducks, who were split into their uniforms in each of those colors, participated in Hardest Shot, Fastest Skater, Shot Accuracy and Shootout.

Every time the kids had a reason to root for either the Black Team or White Team, a piercing roar rose from the crowd. It was unlike anything I'd ever heard, or almost as loud as it got when Miley Cyrus was in here.

We'll have a more complete report on the event later, but here were some highlights:

- As each player went at about 3/4 speed, both Francois Beauchemin and Chris Pronger registered 92 mph during the Hardest Shot. Pronger was asked by Brent Severyn on the ice about the key to having such a hard shot, and he muttered something about the length of his stick that was borderline racy.

- With Brian Sutherby, Kent Huskins, Travis Moen and Ryan Carter competing in the fastest skater (a sprint from the extended goal line to the red line), somehow Moen took the title. Of course, the speed was measured by one of our staffers holding a stop watch, so it's really anybody's guess. Moen looked just as surprised as anyone. I think he got three new cuts on his face just from that event alone.

- Rob Niedermayer looked sharp in the Shot Accuracy competition, knocking down all four targets. Then Teemu Selanne stepped up and drilled them all in just five shots. Afterward, he was interviewed by Severyn, and said, "I was just hoping to beat Rob" and referencing the fact he has just one goal since his comeback, "I was just happy to score."

- The Shootout was inspired by the All-Star Weekend event where players were given points for style, and the judges included Brian Hayward and some teachers. Chris Kunitz had one of the most impressive moves, skating toward the net while flip-flopping the puck atop his stick about chest high, before spinning and taking a shot that unfortunately missed the net and slammed loudly off the glass. It was still a sight to see. Later Getzlaf picked the puck up behind the net, came around the post and stuffed it in there. It was a little like this classic one. The goalie for the competition was one of the locker room attendents they threw in there, which I think was something the NHL can learn from. The problem with the competition during All-Star Weekend was they used All-Star goalies and they made too many stops.

- The whole thing ended with Chris Pronger getting on the mic and thanking all the kids, urging them to give one last cheer. He then yelled, "I can't hear you!" twice until the roar reached a level that nearly shattered all the glass around the rink. With that, he quietly said, "Okay, I can hear you."

Again, more on this very cool event later on the website.

Speaking of the shootout, a buddy of mine was reminded today to send me this clip of a goalie celebrating a rather aggressive save during a shootout in a game overseas. I'm not sure whether to be impressed or mortified on this one. I think it's funnier if you pretend it's Bryz.

Mark Whicker has a column in the O.C. Register today about the emergence of Ryan Carter, and the man responsible for getting him, Ducks Assistant GM David McNab. Of course, the issue of Ducks Digest that ran last month had this excellent story on McNab. I can't remember who wrote that one.

Updated Feb. 18 at 12:44 p.m.

A game against Calgary always has a little added significance for the Ducks. It was about 22 months ago that the Ducks survived a very hard-fought first round series against the Flames, shocking them in Game 7 in Calgary, 3-0. I think most would agree that playoff series was a major steppingstone toward the Stanley Cup title Anaheim won last season. That was a Game 7, and a series for that matter, the Ducks were not supposed to win. The fact that they came together and got by that very good Flames team, pushed Anaheim into a sweep in the next round over Colorado. Then the Ducks ran into a hot Edmonton team with an even hotter goaltender (Dwayne Roloson), and were eliminated. Of course, since that time Anaheim hasn't lost a playoff series and only lost five playoffs games on their way to last year's championship.

Obviously a lot has changed since that epic series with Calgary. Only about half of the Ducks current roster was involved in that series, and a major obstacle in those games was the play of Miikka Kiprusoff in net. Last night after a mediocre first period, the Ducks had little trouble with Kiprusoff, pouring in four goals in the second period alone before chasing him to the bench. It was the second straight bad game for Kiprusoff, who hasn't been himself this year in playing all but two of Calgary's games this year. And his numbers are showing it, as he has a .898 save percentage and a 2.82 goals against average.

What didn't change between that playoff series and last night was the physical play. The Ducks and Flames combined for 19 penalties, among which were several violent skirmishes. That included Jarome Iginla (one of the few elite scorers who routinely throws down) going at it with Travis Moen in the closing minutes. Of course, that reminds Ducks fans of this fight back in '06 between Iginla and Francois Beauchemin that turned that series around in the Ducks' favor.

The Ducks did just about everything right in a second period that was undoubtedly one of their best of the year. And a couple of slumps were broken in that period, one by Ryan Getzlaf and the other by the Ducks power play. Ryan Getzlaf got his first goal in 11 games when he made a beautiful play just 17 seconds into the period. The guy who has been accused of passing the puck too often, this time faked a pass to Corey Perry on the wing before flinging it and off the right post and in.

That was followed by Teemu Selanne's franchise-record-breaking point, an assist to Ryan Carter for the Ducks' second goal. If you didn't get goosebumps when the announcement of Selanne's record was made and the crowd went nuts, well maybe you don't have a pulse.

With all the attention Selanne deservedly got for that historic point, let's not forget how good Carter looked on that goal. The deke he put on Kiprusoff before slipping the forehand shot by him didn't look like a guy who went 25 games without scoring a goal. It looked like a guy who has four in his last five. And Carter looked outstanding the entire night with constant hustle and four shots on goal. He is definitely making the Doug Weight injury, which might keep him out longer than we're intially hearing, a lot easier to take.

And by the way, as Randy Carlyle continues to tinker with the top two lines, Carter between Selanne and Kunitz (and Bertuzzi with Perry and Getzlaf) was outstanding last night. We'll see how that pans out over the next few games.

The two power play goals by Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger were microcosms of each D-man's style of play. Niedermayer used his head to skate to a better angle on the power play and craftily sling a wrist shot by Kiprusoff. Then Pronger's eight minutes later was another one of those get-the-hell-out-of-the-way rockets that nearly put a hole in the twine.

Ducks were 2-4 on the power play for the night, after going 1 for 12 the previous five games (four of which were victories). As Selanne would say, "That's a good sign."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ice from Kiprusoff, J.S. Giguere quietly carried the Ducks with 34 saves, 25 of which came in the second and third, when I thought the Ducks put a little bit of pressure on him. Even with that disheartening 4-2 loss against Dallas (where the final goal was empty-netter), Giguere is a ridiculous 5-1-1 with a 1.28 goals against and a .951 save percentage in February.

It's easy to forget how valuable Giguere is to this team, and how huge it was that he re-signed with the Ducks last offseason for slightly less money than he could have commanded on the open market. That became even more evident last week when the Rangers extended Henrik Lundqvist, a 25-year-old with a 6-7 career playoff record, to a six-year, $41.25 million deal that gives him the highest average salary of any goaltender in the league.

So, although the weekend started on a tough note for the Ducks with that Dallas loss, I'm thinking the win last night will be a stepping-stone to a huge homestand for Anaheim, which right now sits six points behind the Stars in the Pacific. And last night's win wasn't the only time the Ducks shined over the weekend. I got an email on Saturday from a reader named Marc, who was lucky enough to be at the rink visit at Anaheim Hockey Club in Corona, where both Selanne and Niedermayer showed up Saturday. I'll let him tell it:

The kids were all star struck, but Teemu and Scott were so wonderful and so down to earth, it was like chatting with two teammates.

I am, of course, not at all surprised that either of the superstars acted anything other than ordinary Joes, but it still makes me feel so gratified to be a hockey fan and specifically a fan of this team.

Oh, by the way, I told Teemu we had tickets tomorrow night and were hoping that he erases a certain former line mate from the  record book. Teemu said that he feels tomorrow's the night. You heard it here first.

Turns out he was right.

One last thing. If you're anywhere near my age, this one will hurt. Last Saturday, Ice-T had a birthday. He's 50.

Updated Feb. 15 at 4:48 p.m.

A couple things before we turn our attention to this highly anticipated game tonight:

Kent French, the handsome host of Ducks TV, will play five minutes for the Washington Generals in the second quarter of tomorrow's Harlem Globetrotters game at 1 p.m. at Honda Center. That should be plenty entertaining. Tickets are still available!

By the way, I did a quick Google search of "Kent French" right before writing this and came up with this. I don't think it's the same guy.

Also, the newest issue of Sports Illustrated, in it's What's Hot and What's Not section, listed the Ducks as "Hot" and right next to them in the "Not"? That's right, the Red Wings. That and the Swimsuit Issue in the space of a week? Thank you, SI.

Updated Feb. 15 at 12:38 p.m.

Man, it seems like weeks since the Ducks have had a home game, huh?

For their first game at Honda Center in 23 days, the Ducks are facing a serious test as to just how good they are right now. Obviously, Anaheim has reached a peak by turning that road trip around with this five-game winning streak. But as Randy Carlyle said yesterday, the first home game after a long trip can be a letdown. Throw in the fact the Ducks are playing the Pacific Division leaders, a Dallas Stars team that Anaheim hasn't been able to figure out this year. Dallas has won four of the five previous meetings, though the Ducks won the last one 4-2 at Honda Center exactly a month ago.

The Stars had been as hot of the Ducks, before they uncharacteristically lost 5-2 to the Coyotes last night in Phoenix. Marty Turco was in goal for that game, and it will be interesting to see if they throw him in there again tonight. He's beaten the Ducks three out of four times this season. Backup Mike Smith has won his last two starts, stopping 52 of 54 shots.

Here's an interesting matchup to watch tonight, as pointed out by the Dallas Morning News.
In the five games against the Ducks, forward Brendan Morrow has four goals and one assist and is plus-6. Chris Pronger, meanwhile, is minus-6.

A Friday night bout with the Stars would be enough to fill Honda Center, but there will be even more electricity in the building with Teemu Selanne's home debut. It's hard to believe that after Selanne announced he was coming back on Jan. 28, he has yet to play a home game. I'm guessing it might get a little loud in here tonight.

We'll see who fills in the center slot on that second line with Selanne and Todd Bertuzzi, since Doug Weight is out with that shoulder injury. I'm guessing it's either Carter or Marchant. Randy Carlyle said yesterday, "We have interchangeable parts. We'll make a decision based on who's going to give us the best chance at success in that game."


Weight spoke after practice today about the injury, which caused him to miss the last two games and will keep him out at least a week more. Weight was asked by a reporter about the injury and the first thing he lightheartedly said was, "I don't know much right now. What have you heard?"

What he does know is that it's a strained muscle and, "It might be a week, it might be a little more than a week. The good thing is I can still do things close to the body, work the cardio, work the legs, so those are pretty important things for me in trying to come back. I'll be able to skate pretty soon, so I'm excited about that."

Weight first hurt the shoulder during the overtime win over San Jose (when he set up the game-winner) on Jan. 13, and thought he made it worse the following game against Dallas two days later. "I took a little backhand shot and got pushed from behind," Weight said. "I came to the bench and felt something. It's one of those things that steadily got a little sorer and a little worse.

"I was just trying to get to that All-Star break and get some days off. I was smelling that Teemu was coming back and I just wanted to get that rest and come back. It just didn't get better and it went downhill. It's probably my own stupidity. I should have addressed it a while ago. But it's taken care of and I look forward to getting back and getting healthy. That's exciting."

What's also exciting is the Ducks finally getting everyone healthy at the same time. Thanks in great part to lengthy time missed to injury by Samuel Pahlsson, J.S. Giguere, Mathieu Schneider, Todd Bertuzzi, Brad May and now Doug Weight, the Ducks have lost 113 man games to injury, already more than last year's total for the whole season.

As good as the Ducks have looked as of late, you've got to believe they'll get even better when they gain soome Weight.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Weight will be among the nine Ducks who will make appearances at the player rink tours this weekend. They're not saying which players will be at which rinks, but these players will be involved: Weight, J.S. Giguere, Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne, Chris Kunitz, Jonas Hiller, Joe DiPenta, Sean O'Donnell and George Parros.

One last thing. Remember how George Parros got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second period of the Colorado game during Brian Sutherby's fight with Cody McLeod? It was kind of a mystery as to why Parros got the penalty (his fighting majors are usually more obvious). After practice today, I asked George what that call was for, and he looked as bewildered as anybody. "I actually have no idea," Parros said. "I tried to ask the [official] why I was getting a penalty and he wouldn't tell me."

And as he walked out the door, he jokingly said, "Let me know if you hear anything."

Updated Feb. 14 at 12:09 p.m.

The Ducks played two days ago and don't play again until tomorrow, so I really don't have a lot today.

I will note that talk is heating up about the Feb. 26 trade deadline and the Ducks' potential involvement in that. Burke discussed that, among other things, in the conference call we posted yesterday.

Both the O.C. Register and L.A. Times reported this morning on how Brian Burke is unsure of what he plans to do. Much of the trade talk involves the Oilers' first-round pick the Ducks own as compensation for the Dustin Penner signing. "I've been asked repeatedly over the last couple of days, is the Edmonton pick in play, and the answer is yes," Burke said.

But he's also indicated he's hesitant to deal that pick for a so-called "rental player" the Ducks will pick up for the stretch run. "If it's high enough, I don't want to deal for a rental," Burke said. "Let's assume Edmonton is fourth or fifth [in the draft], you're talking about a 10-year guy. You trade that for a rental?"

I would hope not. The Ducks are in an interesting position right now because obviously the No. 1 goal is to repeat and to put together a team that will have the best chance for doing that. But when you look at the state of the Ducks beyond this spring, you're most likely looking at a team without Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne. Burke and the Ducks front office have to consider that when and if they continue to build this team. Plus, you have to be pleased with the cohesion the Ducks are showing right now, which gets even better when Doug Weight comes back.

One thing we do know is that Burke's trade talks in the coming days probably won't involve the Oilers and their GM Kevin Lowe. (In case you've missed it, Burke is still bitter at his former friend after Lowe signed Dustin Penner to an inflated offer sheet last summer.) "I don't talk to him so it would be hard to make a deal," Burke said. "I guess our right-hand men could make a deal. But no, I have no intention to speak to him so it would be real hard to make a deal. I'm not sure how you would do that."

Maybe an email? A text?

You hate to celebrate a player's injury, but the potential of that Oilers pick being a high one recently became more likely when defenseman Sheldon Souray was forced to hang it up for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. You've got to feel bad for the Oilers, who already lost Shawn Horcoff (shoulder) and Raffi Torres (torn ACL) for the rest of the year.

Moving on, God bless the Phoenix Coyotes and their website people. They've provided us with a nice piece of entertainment for a Thursday morning with this interview with our favorite former goalie. If only Bryz's hair was the worst thing about it. At what point do you think the interviewer regretted doing this thing? I say it's right around the 45-second mark. I love how the tagline says "Matt Rosen caught up with Ilya Bryzgalov for a rare 1-on-1 interview." Yeah, guys. There's a reason it's rare. It's hard to believe this is the same guy.

Last thing. I've always found Valentine's Day to be one of those things that are kind of silly, but you have to deal with it. Kind of like bathing. People in relationships are usually annoyed by it, while single people get one more reminder that they don't have anybody. It's a cliche to say the holiday is a conspiracy by greeting card companies, so I won't do it. But hey, happy Valentine's Day to everybody!

Updated Feb. 13 at 2:59 p.m.

We have some great fans out here in Anaheim, but I'm not sure we'll ever reach the maniacal level of the Vancouver Canucks faithful. And frankly, I think that's a good thing. Check out two examples here and here.

(Thanks to reader Blake for alerting me to these.)

Updated Feb. 13 at 12:04 p.m.

I don't get too many opportunities to pat myself on the back, but I'm taking this one. This is from my post yesterday:

[Samuel] Pahlsson is probably going to play on that second line again with Todd Bertuzzi and Selanne in Weight's absence, and it will be interesting to see what Sammy can do given a little more offensive responsibility. I've always thought he had some goal-scoring instincts, but hasn't had much chance to display them over the years. I'd love to see him get one starting tonight.

Of course, rosy-cheeked Sammy scored the game-winner last night in Colorado, but he did it after reuniting with his checking line partners midway through the game. All three guys on that reputed line had a part in the go-ahead goal, as Rob Niedermayer flipped the puck to Travis Moen in front of the net. Moen's shot was blocked by Jose Theodore, but Pahlsson was able to jump on the loose puck and cram it in. Here's the video

That goal put the Ducks up 2-1 with 4:21 left, and you just knew that Anaheim defense wasn't going to allow an equalizer over the final moments. In fact, the Ducks D only gave enough room for two relatively benign shots on goal in the last four minutes, one from Milan Hejduk from 34 feet away and a desperation one from Wojtek Wolski from near mid-ice with 33 seconds left.

Those were both easily saved by J.S. Giguere, who despite the goals by Pahlsson and Teemu Selanne (more on that in a bit), was the real star of the night. The Ducks leaned on Giguere heavily last night, especially in the first when they gave up a gaudy 18 shots. But Giguere was a rock yet again, saving 32 of the 33 shots for the game and only giving up the strike from Marek Svatos early in the first.

Giguere's meltdown at Minnesota at the beginning of the road trip is a distant memory now. Since giving up three goals in the second period of that 5-1 loss and getting pulled midway through, Giguere has been ridiculous in net. He came back from that game with a shutout against St. Louis (only to give one up in the shootout), a shutout against the Islanders, one goal against the Rangers, two goals against the Red Wings and one last night. It's no wonder that 36 percent of people taking our latest Ducks Poll have named him MVP of the road trip.

And a little attention has to be given to the only guy on the Ducks who has never lost a game this year. Teemu Selanne is now 5-0 since jumping into the lineup for the Islanders game eight days ago. And Selanne finally got his first goal of the year, a beauty that was helped by the 5 on 3 the Ducks started the period with. Watch the video here Watch the video here and tell me how Selanne decides there is enough room to take this shot. I'm still not sure how he got that through Theodore.

"Every time I get a power play, my eyes light up," said Selanne, who led the league in power play goals last year with 25. And the goal tied Selanne with Paul Kariya for the all-time franchise lead with 669 points. But Selanne indicated afterwards that he plans to blow that record out of the water. “He has no chance,” Selanne said of old friend Kariya. “This is just a snack for me.”

Carlyle commented after the game about Selanne finally getting that goal in his fifth game: “That’s what happens with goalscorers. If they don’t score for a number of games, they get down. They look, ‘Oh, their skates aren’t right. Their stick’s not right. This isn’t right.’ But the goal he scored was a goal-scorer’s goal. He went upstairs, short side.”

Versus took the opportunity last night to show this classic clip of Selanne scoring his 54th goal during his rookie season, breaking the NHL rookie record. Getting past the fact it's one of the prettier goals you'll ever see, you think Selanne has any regrets about the that celebration? It always makes me laugh. But whether you think it was a little over the top or not, don't we need a little more of that in the NHL these days?

So, this trip is finally over and the Ducks are back in town. They were given a well-deserved day off today and get back to practice tomorrow to get ready for Friday night. By the way, Eric Stephens in the L.A. Times has a piece on the Ducks' last day off, when they went bowling in Denver. Apparently, Brian Sutherby was the standout, rolling a 208 in one game. I saw somewhere else that Randy Carlyle bowled a 54. Yikes.

Who would have thought we'd have a chance to say this after Anaheim dumped the first three games, but you have to feel like this trip was a rousing success. The Ducks came back from some early struggles to win five in a row and earn 11 points out of a possible 16 on the trip. They come home just four points behind Dallas in the Pacific and in fourth place in the Western Conference. Now this all-important matchup with the Stars on Friday is the first of seven straight at Honda Center.

Of course, as much as the Ducks might feel like they've ridden their bikes to the top of a hill and now get to coast down the other side, they know the focus they showed in these last five games needs to maintain.

"We've got to see how this feels and make sure that we keep it," Chris Pronger said. "Make sure we're playing this way each and every night."

I like their chances of that.

Updated Feb. 12 at 3:14 p.m.

A few non-Ducks items for the late afternoon:

Check out this 6-foot-8 high school girl who can actually dunk. I'm not talking about these other so-called female dunkers who barely slip it over the rim and rattle it home. This girl's the real deal. And she's a heck of a shot-blocker.

And then there's this link sent to me by my little sister. Gary Coleman, at 40 years old, has not only gotten married, but it's apparently the first romantic relationship he's ever had. Here was my personal highlight from this story, aside from the photo:

"We may go a week and not speak to each other," he says, while she claims, "He lets his anger conquer him sometimes. … He throws things around, and sometimes he throws it in my direction."

She adds, "I don't like the violence."

Good luck to the both of them. Should be a happy and long-lasting one. By the way, is there anything funnier than imagining little Gary Coleman throwing a tantrum? Not much.

Last thing. There has been some talk about how Fox play-by-play guy Joe Buck didn't come close to exuding the proper amount of enthusiasm during that Eli Manning scramble and David Tyree catch on the Giants' last scoring drive. You can see and hear that here. Even before the Super Bowl, this video had been made of Buck hypothetically calling some of the most dramatic moments in sports and non-sports history. This had me laughing out loud.

Updated Feb. 12 at 12:49 p.m.

It's hard to believe, but Anaheim's mammoth road trip ends tonight in Colorado. And win or lose tonight, you have to believe the Ducks will look back at this one as a mild success.

Granted, the trip started with a disappointing loss at Minnesota and hard-fought defeats at St. Louis and Philadelphia. But the Ducks inserted Teemu Selanne into the lineup before the game at the Islanders and quickly peeled off four straight wins, including a rousing victory at Detroit two nights ago.

Of course, the memory is short, and a loss to the Avs tonight would certainly leave a bad taste at the tail end of this marathon. But right now the Ducks have nine points in seven games on this trip, and if you told them they'd have that many before this thing started, I think they'd be okay with that. Then again, 11 points in 8 games would be so much sweeter.

It's tough to know what to expect from this Avs team tonight. They've been riddled with injuries to key guys, and they're making strides to come back. Joe Sakic skated yesterday for the first time since the end of November after having hernia surgery. Ryan Smyth practiced for the first time since breaking his ankle on New Year's Eve. Young star Paul Stastny also skated, after missing 10 games with an appendectomy.

Those guys won't be available tonight, but they also weren't available when the Avs won two road games at San Jose and Vancouver last Wednesday and Saturday. They've also not played over the past couple of days, while the Ducks looked to give everything they had in pulling out that win at Detroit on Sunday afternoon.

Wary of possible fatigue, Randy Carlyle called off practice yesterday and instead took the team bowling in downtown Denver. Here's how I imagine it went: J.S. Giguere threw a gutterball in the tenth frame, but it was determined that the guy in the lane next to him bumped him, so he was able to roll again. Corey Perry toe-dragged before sending it down the alley in the sixth frame. George Parros got in a fight with the guy setting the pins. Chris Pronger threw an uppercut in the air after throwing a strike in the seventh frame. Teemu Selanne wore a $300 bowling shirt and brought his own shoes. Sammy Pahlsson didn't talk the whole time.

Meanwhile, the Ducks can't seem to get 100 percent healthy, even with the return of Sammy Pahlsson and (possibly) Travis Moen. Now Doug Weight, who was held out of the Detroit game, will be out for at least another week because of a strained left shoulder. Luckily an MRI showed no tear on the injury that Weight originally aggravated early in the trip and made worse against the Islanders a week ago.

Pahlsson is probably going to play on that second line again with Todd Bertuzzi and Selanne in Weight's absence, and it will be interesting to see what Sammy can do given a little more offensive responsibility. I've always thought he had some goal-scoring instincts, but hasn't had much chance to display them over the years. I'd love to see him get one starting tonight. Of course, no one is expecting him to be a major goal-scorer for the Ducks ... you know, like a Ryan Carter type.

Speaking of scorers, Selanne is one point away from tying Paul Kariya for the all-time points lead in Ducks history. Selanne has 668 and Kariya has 669. Teemu, by the way, has done it in 559 games, while Kariya played in 606. You may remember that Selanne scored his 500th career goal last year in Colorado, a 3-2 overtime loss on Nov. 22.

By the way, the Ducks haven't won in Colorado in their last six trips there. I wouldn't mind seeing that string end tonight.  What a way that would be to end this monster trip.

One last thing concerning the standings, where the Ducks currently stand in fifth in the West. Will someone please explain to me why the Ducks have been scheduled to play more games so far than every other team in the Western Conference, except for Dallas (who has also played 60?). Anaheim has played  five more games than San Jose at this point. Hey NHL, you remember you sent us to London for two games to start the season, then made us follow that with games at Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh? Then you sent us on an eight-game trip over 15 days, part of it on the East Coast in the middle of February?

How about a freakin' break?

Updated Feb. 11 at 4:55 p.m.

A couple of things from around the league. Thank goodness Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednick is in stable condition after this gruesome incident in which his carotid artery was cut by his teammate's skate. The silence in the crowd after the incident is beyond eerie.

Something like that is pretty rare in the NHL (thankfully). Then you have something even rarer. Montreal defenseman Ryan O'Byrne has been accused of stealing a woman's purse, and winger Tom Kostopoulos (a former King) has been charged with resisting an officer after both were arrested outside a Tampa night club.

Fellas, I know the salary cap tightened things up a bit, but purse stealing? Come on.

One last thing. Remember when Ryan Shannon was here and he tried this spin-o-rama move in a shootout last year, but it was barely saved by Marty Turco? Well, he pulled it off last night with Vancouver against Nikolai Khabibulin of the Blackhawks. Of course, he bumped Khabibulin a bit in the crease to pull it off and Khabi was none too happy. I love how when he drills Shannon in the back of the head, Shannon turns around, looks at him for a half second and just yells, "WHOO!!" in his face. Glorious.

Updated Feb. 11 at 11:40 a.m. (back in SoCal)

Let’s forget about the controversial call near the end of the game for a minute and focus on the fact that was a tremendous win for the Ducks yesterday in Detroit. The Ducks were high-energy and skating hard the entire 60 minutes, impressive for the team that is slogging through the middle of a 15-day trip.

Now you’ve got to feel like this team is finally getting to where it needs to be. Wins over the Islanders, Rangers, and Devils are nice, especially because they followed a six-game losing skid. But the Ducks couldn’t truly learn where they stood until playing at Detroit, against the best team in the league in one of the toughest buildings to win in. And call or no call, the Ducks made a statement in that game. 

Starting at the top, it was great to see Ryan Carter lead off the Ducks scoring (again) with his third goal in the last two games after getting exactly zero in his first 27. Carter made a nice play to get the puck past Osgood off the Rob Niedermayer feed, despite shooting from such a bad angle. That's a goal-scorer's goal.

It was interesting that Doug Weight couldn't play with an "upper body injury" yesterday. Otherwise, Randy Carlyle would have had a tough decision to make. He had to get Sammy Pahlsson back in the lineup, so who do you scratch? Carter? Todd Marchant? Brian Sutherby? He'll be faced with that decision soon enough. Either way, it was fantastic to see Sammy back in the lineup, even though he was in an unfamiliar spot on the second line, filling in for Weight between Teemu Selanne and Todd Bertuzzi.

Schneider's goal to make it 2-1 Ducks was a bit of a fortunate break for Anaheim, since it didn't have a lot of oomph on it. But it was enough of a changeup to fool Osgood and dent the net. Of course, Osgood complained about the way the play was set up, saying Chris Kunitz took liberties in prying that puck loose. "You can't bodycheck a goalie in the crease and knee him," Osgood said. "I don't know if he even got it with the stick. He just kneed me right in the head."

I didn't see it that way, and if you check this replay, it doesn't look like anything illegal. I will say that I was surprised the officials didn't blow the whistle when it looked like Osgood had the puck covered before Kunitz skated by and swept it away. 

But that definitely wasn't the first of the controversial calls on the afternoon.

Before we get to that, how about Kent Huskins' goal? On several occasions this year, Huskins has weaved his way into the attacking zone with some serious grace. But he's had nothing to show for those plays until this goal, which was also a bit lucky. Huskins looked like he barely got a shot off before Osgood reached out to stuff it, but somehow the puck pops up into the air, eludes the swipe attempt by Lebda and drops in.

And the Ducks would ultimately need that goal, as Franzen got that power play strike 6:06 into the third, setting the stage for the dramatics in the last minute.  For those who don't know, a potential tying goal by Nicklas Lidstrom on the power play by Detroit with 40.7 seconds left was immediately waved off as referee Dan O'Halloran determined that Tomas Holstrom interfered with J.S. Giguere.

(By the way, photo came courtesy of the Ducks message board.)

Replays showed that Holstrom definitely had at least one skate in the crease and interfered with Giguere's ability to move to the puck on the play. The incidental contact that prevented Giguere from moving laterally. I don't think there is any question about that, and Holstrom is known for doing this all the time. He also gets called on it all the time. It is, however, one of those plays that could easily have been let go by the officials, especially in the closing seconds, especially in Detroit's building. I thought it was telling that O'Hallaran didn't even hesitate in waving it off.

Holstrom's take: “Maybe I was in there, but when the shot comes, I’m outside the crease. I saw the replay, too. Just terrible. That was a really weak call. That cost us the game. It was just terrible. I’m standing there, outside the crease when the shot comes. He (Giguere) comes into me. What else can I do?”

Mmm, I'm not sure about that, Tommy.

Giguere's postgame quote almost indicated some guilt about the call: "It's a tough call for the referee. A lot of times, they don't call those penalties like that. It took a lot of guts to call that."

I think it was the right call, but I also think the contact could have easily been ignored. And Ducks fans would have just had to live with it, and hope the team could make it happen in overtime.

That being said, the tripping call on Francois Beauchemin that made the power play happen in the first place was downright atrocious. Beauchemin had nothing to do with Zetterberg losing an edge and going down, and the official who made the call was in no position to see that. But those calls happen all the time, including (and especially) in that game, and you just have to endure them. Luckily for the Ducks, they just barely did.

And as if this rivalry needed to get any more heated, there was the brawl with less then a second left when Beauchemin attacked Johan Franzen, who was holding Pronger down as the Ducks were trying to prevent Detroit from making one last-ditch effort. (By the way, awesome move on Beauch's part.) That was a fitting end to that game, and it's too bad these two teams don't have any games left between them.

Or do they? Wouldn't you love to see these guys in the playoffs? Especially after the Ducks have won two of four against them, one of the losses coming in a shootout?

Giguere put it well: “You’d be crazy not to think that if you want to go through the West in the playoffs, you most possibly have to go through the Red Wings. Obviously, the games we play against them in the regular season are big because of that. We want to show them that if we do play against them, we’ll be ready, and we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

Updated Feb. 9 at 12:32 a.m. (Newark time)

It's a little lonely after you've spent the whole week with 24 hockey players, plus coaches, broadcasters and fellow staffers, and now they've all left and you're alone in a hotel in Newark. But I'll get over it. The room service Buffalo Chicken Wrap is helping.

The Ducks flew out of here after a satisfying 2-1 win over New Jersey in which Ryan Carter scored the first two goals of his young NHL career. That was fantastic to see for Carter, who is a legitimately kind, well-spoken, charming young guy, not to mention a heck of a talent. After four big playoff games and 28 regular season ones this year, he finally got that monkey off his back. And the fact that it led directly to a big Ducks road victory made it all the better. By the way, did you know the Ducks became just the second team in NHL history to beat all three New York-area teams in a span of four days?

Meanwhile, Carter's gorgeous second goal made No. 2 on the Sportscenter Top 10 tonight. Here it is again, if you missed it. (or even if you didn't).

And how good did Jonas Hiller look tonight, saving 34 of 35 shots and standing tall when the Devils were looking to tie it in the closing minutes? It was a little nervewracking when Carter took that delay of game minor with under a minute left, and the Devils had already emptied the net. But thankfully the Ducks held on, thanks in part to both Todd Marchant and Scott Niedermayer tying the puck up near the boards in the closing seconds

Niedermayer's reception in a surprisingly not-full Prudential Center was confusing at best. First of all, I was amazed by the number of empty seats in there, which for some reason was even more glaring in a pretty new arena. When Niedermayer was announced as a starter before the game, the fans who traditionally yell "sucks!" after every opponent's name, cheered for Niedermayer. Then the first few times he touched the puck, you heard nothing. Finally, midway through the first period, the boos started, though one of the first times I heard it, Carter scored that first goal seconds later. That felt just a little satisfying .

I still don't understand the logic of booing Niedermayer, a guy who has been nothing but class and dignity his whole career, a guy who won three Stanley Cups for those fans, a guy who committed the apparently unforgiveable crime of leaving a team he'd spent 13 years with for the chance to play with his brother for the first time in his career. Seems odd to me. Seems not very well thought out.

Okay, so just to review this trip for me, the Ducks had lost six in a row, then I show up and they win all three while I'm here. Coincidience? I think not.

So yeah, it's been a great week. Great to see games in these three arenas, to see New York, to visit the White House. I never missed a bus, didn't catch the flu, didn't get robbed. Everything went pretty well. Which is why the following story just had to happen:

As I mentioned earlier, the press box at Prudential Center is extremely high up. I was sitting in the front row with all the other writers. There is a drop of at least 50 feet from the edge of the table (which thankfully has a lip on it) to the floor behind the last row of seats on the 200 level. Usually there are seats right in front of the press box, like at Honda Center, but the 300 level seats are sort of under the press box, so there is this huge drop. When you peak over the edge of the table, it's actually kind of scary. My co-worker Alex noticed it first and said that one of us was bound to drop something off there. Little did he know...

After the game was over, I wrote the recap for the website and finished up. The arena had cleared out and it was just me and a few writers. When I finished, I packed up my computer bag, which I placed on the table. The bag has this zippered panel that flips open to place the computer in. The outside of that flap has a pocket that closes with a flimsy velcroed flap. As I'm getting ready to close the bag, that flap flies open right on top of the edge of the table. Before I could even react, out shoots countless items, including a digital camera (which belongs to the company), a digital voice recorder, several batteries, several cables, my keys, even an old hotel room key, and they all drop the 50 feet and go crashing loudly to the floor below.

My jaw just dropped. And the OC Register and L.A. Times writers had looks that were combinations of shock and annoyance that it distracted them from their writing.

Seconds later, some cleanup workers show up below and look up at me like they can't believe what they just saw. I sheepishly tell them I'll be right down and I rush down there. By the time I get there, one of the co-workers has placed every last piece  on top of an empty pizza box and presented it to me. The camera has pieces coming off it, and all four AA batteries flew out of it, but it was mostly intact. Although, I'm not too sure it will ever work again. The digital recorder is DOA. The keys are all still there. All I could think was, Thank God the place was mostly empty. Thank God the computer didn't go too. Thank God I didn't fall.

I put all the pieces back in the bag and slunk out of there, then took a cab from the arena to the hotel even though it's literally two or three blocks. But it's two or three blocks through one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Who knew it could be just as dangerous standing underneath the press box inside the arena?

So, it's been an interesting trip. I started it by insulting Islanders fans and their arena and ended it by becoming the first person in Prudential Center history to drop expensive electronics from the ledge in the press box. It's nice to be able to make a mark.

I think I'm ready to go home. Good luck, Ducks, without me.


Updated Feb. 8 at 6:53 p.m. (Newark time)

I'm having flashbacks to Tuesday night because it's seven minutes before the scheduled game time and there is virtually no one in here. Can't be more than 1,000 people. Maybe they're at the concession stands.

I will say this for the folks who are in their seats. The fans here have a tradition of yelling "sucks" after each name is introduced in the opponent's starting lineup. But when they announced Scott Niedermayer, a cheer went up. NIce.

Okay, if you're interested in the live game log, click here.

Updated Feb. 8 at 6:11 p.m. (Newark time)

The Ducks arrive at the Prudential Center (which is nicknamed "The Rock," by the way) about an hour ago and are getting ready. I'm hearing now that Samuel Pahlsson is unlikely to play, despite reports to the contrary. I guess we'll know for sure when the puck drops.

Tonight I'm in the main press area, which is huge by way up high in this building. Certainly my seat last night was much closer. But it's very nice up here. By the way, the organist in here is excellent. Earlier he was playing a lovely rendition of Prince's "1999" and somehow he's playing "Sk8ter Boi" by Avril Lavigne. I'm kind of embarrased that I recognized it and the fact that I know the proper spelling for that song title.

A couple of radio notes for you. If you're interested in hearing the only female radio color commentator in the NHL, check out the Devils live radio feed tonight. But make sure you're listening to the Ducks radio feed during the second intermission (also on AM 830 in SoCal) because Brent Severyn is going to have me on as a guest again. Should be interesting. I've already been warned by him not to make fun of him on the air. Sometimes I have to remind myself that Sevy used to fight a lot during his playing days.

Back with more later.


Updated Feb. 8 at 4:04 p.m. (Newark time)

I've neglected to mention a couple of things. First off, even though the Ducks play at Detroit and at Colorado following tonight, this is where I get off. The team is flying to Detroit after the game, but I'm staying here tonight and going back to Cali tomorrow morning. Just thought I'd mention. Don't think I'll be taking in the nightlife in Newark tonight, however.

Second thing, I can't think of playing the Devils without thinking of this.

Updated Feb. 8 at 2:09 p.m. (Newark time)

It wasn't easy getting up for the 9:30 a.m. bus to New Jersey after hitting the town last night following that great win, then opting for the always-healthy slice of pizza at ... well, I'm not sure what time it was. Let's just say it's a good thing I didn't decide to write anything when I got back to the hotel. One of the stops we made was Hogs & Heifers in the Meatpacking District, which was the inspiration for the movie "Coyote Ugly." But the place looked a lot different than the one in the movie, although there were about a thousand bras hanging from the ceiling above the bar. And the bartendresses were scantily clad and actually kind of annoying because they yelled on a bullhorn a lot. And they didn't dance on the bar. Other than that, a great time.

Phenomenal win last night, especially coming in that arena, which has a great atmosphere. The place was full and the fans were into it, or as much as you can be into a game where your team loses 4-1. This was definitely the one arena where I was glad our press area was in the middle of the stands, because I could hear all the yelling at our guys and their own guys the fans were doing all night.

Great to see the Ducks sharing the wealth goal-scoring wise, with Schneider, Perry, Kunitz and Bertuzzi all tickling the twine. And J.S. Giguere continues to be magnificent, making several big saves last night. He did have some breaks, the most notable coming on that Rangers power play in the middle of the third period, where a couple of loose pucks barely slid wide of the net. The fact the Ducks killed that penalty, then went the other way seconds later and got this pretty goal from Bertuzzi on a feed from Getzlaf, was the back breaker of all back breakers. That was almost worth two goals for the Ducks, since they narrowly avoided one and quickly scored one.

The Ducks took the short bus ride through the Lincoln Tunnel to Newark, which is the New Jersey of cities. Okay, that's the last New Jersey crack I make, since my mom grew up here. But let's just say the views aren't inspiring as they were in our last city, unless you like smokestacks. Okay, now that's really the last one.

I'll say this about Newark: The Prudential Center, the Devils' new arena, is gorgeous. The arena holds 17,625 for hockey and it should definitely be full tonight. The jury is still out on how they will receive Scott Niedermayer, since some fans are apparently still bitter about his leaving (although unfairly so). There is a feature on Scotty coming back to Jersey right here. I'm pretty proud of the title.

You know how the Ducks do nice little tributes when a popular player returns to Honda Center with another team, like they did for Ilya Bryzgalov earlier this year? Guess what the Devils have planned for Scotty tonight? That's right, absolutely nothing.

The Ducks arrived there around 10 a.m. or so, had some meetings, got some exercise, kicked the soccer ball around, and about a dozen Ducks skated. That included Travis Moen, who has missed the last two games with the flu. We'll know at game time if he's available tonight. 

Naturally, I took some photos of the Prudential Center, which you can kind of see in this first photo (which I definitely did not take) is like a shimmering light in comparison to its not-so-pretty surroundings.

This is a piece I like to call "Big Pile of Skates."

A wide shot.

All the seats in the arena are plush, and the ones in the center ice area even have Devils logos. Kind of cool. 

I'm sure Ducks fans remember the one on the right.

Several Ducks kick around the soccer ball in the hallway outside their locker room.   

About half the team skated today...

...including the flu-ridden Travis Moen.

I briefly interviewed George Parros about his return to New Jersey, where he grew up and later played for Princeton. I didn't realize he had about 50 people last night. You can hear that interview here.

Back with more when we get to the arena...

Updated Feb. 7 at 6:36 p.m. (Manhattan time)

The Ducks and Rangers just hit the ice for warmups, as we're about 30 minutes from dropping the puck on this baby. I happen to have the best seat I've ever had at a Ducks game. I'm in a small auxiliary press area at MSG (along with some newspaper writers), which happens to be on the lower level in the corner behind the goal the Ducks defend twice. The TV guys are in a small box just underneath the top-level suites near center ice. The radio guys are in small booths above the tunnels between the first and second level. So, heck of a seat for me here, and the price is definitely right.

Just in front of me, I noticed a few guys in Ducks gear, one of them wearing a backwards Yankees cap, looking like they were having the time of their lives watching warmups. I asked the guy in the orange Chris Pronger t-shirt where they were from and he said they came down from Boston. "You guys don't play up there this year," he said with a heavy Will Hunting accent. He lives in Boston and he's a Ducks and Yankees fan? You don't see too many of those, I would imagine. Here's a picture:

Just found out that the New York Rangers are the only team in the NHL that J.S. Giguere has never beaten. Hopefully that will end tonight.

Tune into the live game log when the game starts.

Updated Feb. 7 at 5:13 p.m. (Manhattan time)

The Ducks arrived at MSG about 20 minutes ago and are getting ready. Here's a reminder that the Ducks haven't been here since 2003:


Updated Feb. 7 at 1:13 p.m. (Manhattan time)

You ever get the feeling you're somewhere you don't really belong? As I write this, I'm sitting in the stands in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. I'm alone and there is no one in site, aside from the two Zamboni drivers cleaning the ice. Kind of a cool feeling.

The Ducks skated here this morning and headed back to the hotel about 15 minutes ago. They're back here in a few hours to take on the Rangers.

Samuel Pahlsson is unlikely to play, though Randy Carlyle told the media that he is available. But based on the extra skating he did after practice with Brandon Bochenski and Joe DiPenta, I don't think you'll see him. Same goes for Travis Moen, who stayed in the hotel this morning, still suffering from that flu. Moen, who always looks beat up even in the best of health, did not look good yesterday. He is definitely struggling.

So, back to the Garden. I've actually been here before in past visits to the city, once for a Knicks game and once for a touristy tour of the place. Fantastic arena with so much history. You look around the place and it's really hard to believe it seats more than 18,000 for hockey. I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's full. There is definitely some interesting history with this place, and instead of boring you with my take on it, check it out here.

As you can imagine, I took a few pictures:

Times Square on the way to the arena.

A view from the outside.

The Knicks retired Ewing's number? Really?

That's Billy Joel and Elton John's "numbers" next to the Stanley Cup banner and Messier's number. Joel did 12 straight shows here and Elton's 60th marked the most here by any performer.

Sammy Pahlsson works on his stick before the skate.

Sammy skates extra after the team has left the ice.

No idea why I took this picture. 

The hallways near the locker rooms at MSG have some great photos. Here are a couple of old Rangers championship teams.

Some Rangers legends.

I included this one because my mom was at the game in 1970 where Willis Reed came limping out of the locker room and led the Knicks to the title.


Aside from the singing, the guy in the picture on the left has little in common with the guys on the right.

No caption necessary.

After practice I spoke briefly with Mathieu Schneider about playing in New York about playing in New York. Schneider played a combined four seasons with the Rangers and Islanders.

We'll have more later. 

Updated Feb. 6 at 8:39 p.m. (Manhattan time)

Man, I am tired. But I should have known I would be. Every time I visit the White House and then immediately fly into Manhattan in the same day, it takes a lot out of me. Thank goodness I don't have to play a hockey game tomorrow.

Unfortunately, the actual Ducks do have to play tomorrow, after heading to The White House this afternoon, doing the tour and the ceremony and then taking the 40-minute flight into New York, braving the 6:15 Manhattan traffic and finally arriving at the hotel near Central Park about a half hour ago. 

It's been a long day, but certainly a great and rare opportunity for the Ducks. We have coverage of the day, including video, a photo gallery and a transcript of President Bush's charming and funny speech. His speech people did a nice job on this one. Team photographer Deb Robinson took several great photos of the team's tour through The White House prior to the ceremony, which we will have later on. For now, you'll have to live with what I took.

Just a quick briefing, we took the bus to The White House from our hotel in D.C., were stopped at security as they searched the bus (with a bomb-sniffing dog). Then we got out of the bus, headed up a walkway and went through a security tent. From there we headed into the East Wing, where we split into two groups and took the tour through the various rooms. It was a bizarre experience being in there and seeing rooms and paintings you've only seen in movies. One of the coolest part was watching the Ducks players snap shots of the rooms, the walls, each other, with the disposable cameras each of them was given by the team on the bus.

Each group had a tour guide that gave us a history of each room and several of the paintings. My favorite part was when Ducks radio announcer Steve Carroll asked our guide if the same artist had painted all of them. Yeah, Steve, and the artist is about 160 years old now and still painting! Both Brad May and George Parros got a good laugh out of that one.

After the tour, we waited in one of the rooms for the ceremony to start, and were surprised to see an influx of several guests, most of which we didn't recognize. No one was real sure who they were, although many of them were with a youth hockey team from Mount Vernon that was given the chance to meet the Ducks. There was also plenty of media lining the back walls. Someone made a joke about a voice rising up from the chattering press corps: "My President! Mr. President! Kent French from Ducks TV..." But alas, there was no question and answer session.

You can see it in the video, but the Ducks were introduced into the East Room, and all stepped onto the risers perfect order, since they had rehearsed the whole thing about an hour beforehand. Eventually, President Bush came in the room, which was another of those experiences where you feel like you're watching on TV, even though you're really there. No matter what you think about Bush at this point, being in the same room as the President of the United States, a man you've only seen on television and in newspapers, is surreal.

Again, his speech was short and very entertaining, as he properly honored the Ducks' place in history and several of the key figures who got them there. He finished the speech, shook hands with many of them, shook a few more hands as he walked out of the room, and like that he was gone.

Afterwards, the Ducks mingled with the invited guests, and Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Teemu Selanne and Brian Burke headed out for a small press conference. I was able to tag along as we headed into a different part of The White House we hadn't yet seen, through an area of offices in the West Wing, then outside to meet the press.

When that was finished, we all headed back through The White House, took a few more pictures along the way (many of them by Selanne himself), got on the bus and we were out of there.

And here is how the journey fittingly ended. The team often watches a movie to pass the time on buses and planes. So, after taking the bus to the airport, hopping on the charter and taking the quick flight to New York, then getting on another bus to the hotel in Manhattan, the Stanley Cup champs, the guys who had just spent the day in nice suits meeting the President at The White House, watched the second half of ... "Dumb and Dumber."  And at one point through the laughter, you could hear an unidentified voice yell out, in all seriousness, "This is the best movie of all time!" You've got to love these guys.

Here are a few of the photos I shot to further illustrate the day:

The team gets off the bus and prepares to head to The White House.

Teemu Selanne decides to try on President Bush's gift one last time.

The treasury building, as seen from the entryway toward the East Wing.

This is the security tent you have to pass through before heading to the White House. But when I first saw it I said, "
This is it? I thought The White House was much bigger." It actually got a couple laughs.

Two of the many paintings adorning the East Wing.

The next President?

Scott Niedermayer found every chance to find a seat during the tour. Here he listens to our guide talk about this room, the men's lounge.

Remember this guy?

A dining area where the Ducks met with guests after the ceremony. That's Abe Lincoln on the wall.

One of the more famous paintings in the building.

Scott Niedermayer looks at the Washington Monument through a White House window.

The Ducks rehearse their positioning before the ceremony.

I couldn't resist getting this picture of a Ducks legend with possible future Ducks legends. Here Getzlaf, Selanne and Perry are are waiting for the ceremony to begin while sitting under a portrait of Ronald Reagan. 

This was as we headed out of the White House. Apparently between those two trees is the Oval Office.

This is apparently a room where the President receives guests and also passes through here when he gets off Marine One, the Presidential helicopter.

Okay, that was most of what I got during the day, and you can see more pictures in this photo gallery.

Back to hockey, the Ducks are resting tonight and go through their skate at Madison Square Garden tomorrow morning around 11:30 a.m. We'll have more for you then.

Updated Feb. 6 at 12:06 p.m. (Washington D.C. time)

Two fellow Ducks staffers, the team photographer and the team travel liaison (whom everyone just calls "Delta Bob") and I went on a quick sighteeing trip around D.C. this morning. We passed by the White House (not stopping since we'll get a better look this afternoon) and visited the Reflecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. It would have been nice to have more time, but even in the hour or so we had, it's just an unbelievable place to walk around. I haven't been here since I was a kid.

Here are a few shots I took on the walk:

Moving on, the Ducks head to The White House in about a half hour for a tour and then the ceremony. We'll do everything we can to give you a report as soon as possible after it's all over.

Updated Feb. 6 at 1:33 a.m. (Washington D.C. time)

Just wanted to get one last post in before bedtime, since I'm not sure there will be time in the morning before we leave for the White House. We're at The Mayflower in D.C., a gorgeous hotel if there ever was one, and apparently a popular place to stay for visiting heads of state with a traditional look to it. It's beautiful inside and out.

Anyway, nice win for the Ducks tonight, and it sure was nice to see some goals scored. I didn't want to say it before, but it wouldn't have been too fun to visit The White House in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. It would have been kind of like, "These are the Stanley Cup champs?"

So, while these Islanders aren't exactly on fire these days, a win's a win, especially for the Ducks right now. Especially on this trip.

Great to see Scotty get a goal. Great to see Marchant get a goal. Great to see Weight get a goal. And you've got to love this picture. ------------------>

Not to mention, J.S. Giguere quietly pitched another shutout (the second straight including that "official" one against St. Louis in the shootout loss). He didn't have a lot to contend with tonight, but he's been solid ever since having a nightmare night in Minnesota last Wednesday.

And of course Teemu looked very solid, especially considering it was his first game back and he was the first to admit he got surprisingly winded. He had a few shots on net, a couple of which could have gotten through. Not to mention, he was on the ice for two Ducsk scores and got the puck to Pronger, who got it to Scotty on that first one. All in all, a successful debut for the Flash.

The Ducks left right after tonight's game for the airport, where they took a 40-minute flight to Washington D.C. Tomorrow afternoon they leave for The White House, where as part of the traditional ceremony, they will gift the President a jersey as a gift. Teemu Selanne somehow got his hands on the jersey and tried it on during the flight (see below). I'm not sure if that's a security breach, but we'll take our chances.

Back tomorrow.

Updated Feb. 5 at 6:48 p.m. (Long Island time)

I actually had to check with someone to see when this thing actually starts. It's supposedly 12 minutes before puck drop and this place has literally about 1,000 fans in it. I'm not kidding. Where is everybody?

Anyway, when this thing starts, click here for the live game log.

Updated Feb. 5 at 6:35 p.m. (Long Island time)

The Ducks came out for warmups a few minutes ago, as several Anaheim fans lined the glass to watch them. Looks like we've got a few here!

Updated Feb. 5 at 5:25 p.m. (Long Island time)

We're about an hour and 40 minutes before puck drop here at Nassau Coliseum, just about a half hour after arriving by bus. It was a strange sensation taking the bus here from the hotel. We took a strange route that took us away from the hotel out to a main road, then toward the arena. This was despite the fact that you can almost reach out and touch the arena from the hotel lobby. It's kind of like going from your living room to your bathroom, but stopping at your next door neighbor's house on the way.

I've just heard that Teemu Selanne is for sure playing tonight. Should be interesting.

Anyway, I've just arrived on the press level, which very much resembles that of an arena built in 1972. I still think it's better than Joe Louis Arena. It's pretty cramped up here with so many low-hanging beams that if I get out of here without hitting my head and knocking myself out cold, I'll consider it a personal victory.

Lucky for me and the other writers, we get to sit in the front row where the big wide tables are. This is the row behind us:

Here was a cool thing. The elevator is lined with a wide shot of the arena: 

Here's Ducks radio play-by-play guy Steve Carroll posing in that elevator. Steve, who never met an envelope of meal money he didn't hoard, is quickly spreading the word that he bought me dinner before leaving for the arena. It was a bowl of soup, but he's still proud of it.

More later...

Updated Feb. 5 at 2:36 p.m. (Long Island time)

The Ducks held their morning skate at Nassau Coliseum and pretty much confirmed that Teemu Selanne will make his debut tonight. Of course, Randy Carlyle was his usual tight-lipped self about the whole thing, saying "He says it’s my decision and I say it’s his decision.”

You've got to love Randy. His hair could be on fire and if a reporter asked him about it he'd say, "I'm not saying it's on fire and I'm not saying it's not. We'll see after it's just about burned off."

As mentioned in that other story, Sammy Pahlsson did skate this morning, but appears unlikely to play. He, Joe DiPenta and Brandon Bochenski were three Ducks who skated extra after the rest of the team had headed into the dressing room. Travis Moen didn't skate after reportedly feeling a touch of the flu. Mathieu Schneider was out there and says he's ready to go.

I got a good look inside Nassau Coliseum, which appears to have the charm of an arena that was opened in 1972. It's nothing fancy, but it's a decent arena inside. I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like full of fans tonight. A little background on Nassau: It was built on the site of a former Army and Air Force base called Mitchell Field. That's the reason for all that dirt I depicted yesterday, according to an email I got this morning from a slightly ticked-off Islanders fan named Gina.

She wrote that since Charles Wang took bought the team, "he has made vast improvements which include a new scoreboard, a wraparound scoreboard for out-of-town scores, ads, etc. and a brand new locker room facility. She also points out that further improvements are on the horizon, and are apparently expected to behind in summer 2009. I like how the website admits, "The current Coliseum is one of the oldest sports arenas in the country and it looks it." It is the third-oldest active arena in the NHL, behind Pittsburgh's after Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena and Madison Square Garden, where we'll be Thursday night.

I also got a long email from a Long Islander named Roger: You are experiencing what every NHL player experiences on a road trip to Long Island.  You really only get to know the immediate area.  Long Island is a BEAUTIFUL place to live. We have world class schools, beaches and parks and a great quality of life.  There is excellent youth hockey in the area as well.  My son plays for the Oceanside Middle School team.  The proximity to NY City is also what makes it so great to live out here.  If you had more time here you would see that it's great area to live.

I have no doubt about that. I know Long Island has its charms. There just not anywhere around the Long Island Marriott & Conference Center.

One of the greatest things about the Nassau Coliseum are the banners hanging from the rafters, including the four straight Stanley Cup titles the Islanders won from 1980 through 1983. Of course, there are also banners commemorating the three straight Eastern Division titles the fellow tenant New York Dragons captured from '03 through '05.

Anyway, I took several pictures of the arena and the Ducks practice today, which you can see by clicking the link to the right:

Ducks Practice at Nassau Coliseum

The Ducks actually get on a bus this afternoon at 4 p.m. Long Island time to go to the arena, which seems somewhat excessive sinice the building is about 100 steps away from the hotel lobby. However, part of the reason is that they have to load their bags on the bus since we're leaving tonight from the game to fly to Washington D.C. for tomorrow's White House ceremony.
For those interested, I will be doing the live game log from Nassau Coliseum tonight, in addition to the Rangers and Devils games.

One last link to pass on to you. Newsday has a great story about the old Long Island Ducks of the Eastern Hockey League, who played from 1959 through 1973.

Back with more later.

Updated Feb. 4 at 10:50 p.m. (Long Island time)

Welcome to another edition of a common feature on this blog, called "I was an idiot." You'll see below that I mentioned that I thought there was a high school gym in this area. I gathered that from an email from someone else on this road trip who wrote something about how there is nothing in this area "but the hotel and the high school gym we play in." Somehow I interpreted that wrong.

Apparently, Nassau Coliseum is truly a site to see, and the press box is lined with desks that resemble what you sat in for your 10th-grade geometry class. We'll find out more tomorrow morning.

Updated Feb. 4 at 5:09 p.m. (Long Island time)

I just got into New York a couple of hours ago, then took an $89 cab ride from JFK to Uniondale on Long Island. I'm definitely putting that one on the expense account, so if the Ducks come up a few dollars short of signing any free agents this summer, you can possibly point the finger at me.

The drive from JFK to Long Island isn't exactly a cornucopia of New York landmarks. There's no Statue of Liberty, no Times Square, no Ray's Pizza. That will have to wait until we get into Manhattan later in the week. And my destination this evening was even less memorable. The Marriott in Uniondale is right next door to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (home of the Islanders) and ... well ... not much else. Seriously, absolutely nothing else. I think there is a high school gym or something around here. Here's the view out of my room.

Absolutely breathtaking. On a clear day you can see dirt. I walked down the hall to take a picture out the window of the arena...

...and decided that wasn't clear enough, so I went down to the hotel parking lot for a better look:

Okay, that's not fair. I'm sure it's much nicer inside, but I won't know until the morning skate tomorrow. As far as nightlife goes tonight, I think it's the Champions Sports Bar (a fixture at Marriotts across this great country of ours). It is pretty cold, grey and wet, but not overly freezing. Either way, going from the room down the elevator, through the lobby to the restaurant is certainly ideal.

The Ducks arrived here this afternoon, and they're getting some rest for tomorrow. Yesterday they had a bit of an offbeat practice, in which J.S. Giguere skated as a forward and Francois Beauchemin and assistant coach Newell Brown were in net. Please tell me those two guys didn't shut out the Ducks too. Also in that story, Dan Wood reports that Mathieu Schneider hopes to play tomorrow night after visiting a hand specialist and that Samuel Pahlsson "could back in the lineup soon."

No word yet on whether Teemu Selanne will make his debut tomorrow night, but we'll have something for you as soon as we hear. Right now he's officially "probable" and will decide after the morning skate. Should he play tomorrow night it would be almost 12 years to the day since he made his Ducks debut in 1996. And interestingly enough, that game on Feb. 10 was also against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. He had a goal in the first period of that game.

By the way, heck of a Super Bowl last night, even if I wasn't too pleased with the outcome. It's not just that I was rooting for the Pats and my man Brady, but I had the Pats 4 and Giants 0 square in our office pool. No, that last touchdown wasn't devistating at all.

Alright, that's it for now. I'm going to enjoy this room service chicken quesadilla.

Updated Feb. 3 at 10:23 a.m.

This morning Corey Perry woke up in his hotel room and brushed his teeth. As he went to put his toothbrush back in that little glass on the bathroom counter, Martin Biron knocked it away.

Todd Bertuzzi blew his nose, and as he tossed the tissue into the trash can, Manny Legace blocked it with his leg pad.

Ryan Getzlaf was telling his teammates a joke, and just when he was about to get to the punchline, Nicklas Backstrom yelled it out and ruined the whole thing.

That's just about how it feels right now for the Anaheim Ducks, who wouldn't have more trouble finding the net if it were hidden underneath the Zamboni. 

Last night's 3-0 loss, coupled with a crushing 1-0 defeat the night before in St. Louis was evidence of that. Let's start with the St. Louis loss, which is a prime example to counter my thoughts a couple of blog entries ago when I agreed with a columnist who said you shouldn't get a point for a loss. The Ducks completely outplayed the Blues, only to fall in a tiebreaker that, let's face it, isn't real hockey. For that, they certainly deserved a point. Last night the effort was there again, but the Ducks could get nothing past Biron, and defensively they let one guy beat them -- three times. 

But even with these two losses, Randy Carlyle, not the most optimistic guy in the world, found positives: “We're not happy that we lost — believe me. We're not happy with the outcome, but we can take some solace in that our work ethic has been strong. We've created more of the type of hockey game that we're going to have to play, and we believe the offense will come if we stay with the program and stay positive.”

One other small positive last night was the lickin' George Parros gave Riley Cote in a sort of east-west clash of the titans, as Parros flattened Cote with a textbook uppercut.

And if the Ducks were hoping to forget what went down at Wachovia Center last night, it won't be easy. They practice there today and tomorrow before busing to Long Island tomorrow afternoon.

By the way, congrats to Jean-Sebastien Giguere for earning an official shutout in that 1-0 loss at Minnesota on Friday night. It was his 28th as a Duck, setting a new franchise record. Of course, earning a record-breaking shutout in a shootout loss is kind of bittersweet, kind of like ... oh, I don't know ... winning a Conn Smythe when your team loses in the Final.

Back to the scoring drought, there is one Ducks player who has equated scoring goals with trying to get ketchup out of a bottle. "I call it the ketchup syndrome," Teemu Selanne has said in the past. "You try to get the ketchup out. You can't. And then when it comes, 'Bam.'"

Teemu himself can hopefully make that "bam" happen real soon. The word I'm hearing is that there is a very good chance he'll make his debut Tuesday night against the Islanders. Again, I'll be reporting on that portion of the trip (Islanders, Rangers, Devils, White House) starting tomorrow and all through the week.

Meanwhile, Samuel Pahlsson continues to recover and is practicing with the team today. He said he believes he'll be playing “pretty soon.”

In the meantime, the Ducks Super Bowl party this afternoon is probably not as festive and joyful as they might have hoped. Let's hope that when Chris Pronger goes to scoop a tortilla chip into the seven-layer dip, it's not gloved by Marty Biron.

Updated Feb. 1 at 4:30 p.m.

Just when you think you've seen it all on Kiss Cam, they give you this. Try to stop the video before it moves on to the Ducks-Wild highlights.

Okay, that's it for me. Enjoy the game tonight. Enjoy Ducks at Philly tomorrow. Enjoy the Super Bowl.

If I don't get a chance to post anything on here this weekend, it won't be until I'm in New York with the team that I'll post something again. I'll see what I can do until then.

Updated Feb. 1 at 1:36 p.m.

By the way, in case you missed Brian Burke's stint on the NHL Hour radio show yesterday, it's posted here (updated from earlier). Fast forward to the 18-minute mark to hear Burkie.

The reason I mention it is because Burke said on the show that he expects Teemu Selanne to make his debut Saturday at Philadelphia, but who knows what's developed in the past day with that. I'm hearing second-hand that Randy Carlyle would only say this morning, "He's getting closer."

Another remark from the interview that stuck with me was when Burke was talking about the Ducks' upcoming visit to The White House. Host Bill Clement asked Burke if he was a Democrat or Republican. Burke said, "I'm a Democrat," then without hesitation added, "But we are honored to go to The White House."

By the way, it's possible Mathieu Schneider might not play tonight with an arm injury. It's supposed to be a game-time decision. Samuel Pahlsson is visiting a specialist for his abdominal injury, but is expected to at least join the team in Philadelphia.

Updated Feb. 1 at 11:23 a.m.

You get the feeling it's going to be a bad day when your morning paper (I won't say which one) comes without a front section or a sports page, but instead gives you two entertainment sections. Not good, guys. Not good.

Today is yet another jeans Friday at Ducks headquarters, with a twist. Ducks employees were encouraged to wear their favorite football jersey in honor of Sunday's Super Bowl. I brought, but did not yet wear, my Tom Brady jersey I got as a Christmas gift three years ago. I have a strict policy about not wearing jerseys outside my home, but I carried this one with me. I didn't want to put it on for fear of being one of the only ones in the office to wear one. My fears were confirmed. I think we maybe have a dozen people wearing it (although at least two of those are wearing Ducks jerseys). So I'll have to be content with draping it over the extra chair in my office, as a reminder to passers-by of just who is going to win this thing on Sunday.

Do you ever go see a movie that's critically acclaimed, that gets a bunch of Oscar nominations, and you end up feeling stupid and you're missing something because you hate it and you think it's really long and kind of boring? Well, I saw "There Will Be Blood" with my father last night.

Okay, let's get to some Ducks. It's a big game tonight, mostly because the Ducks are looking to get off the schneid after dropping four in a row. It's also their first game against Andy McDonald, who still looks funny wearing that blue and yellow uniform, and the first trip back to St. Louis for Doug Weight as an opponent since before he played six seasons there. The O.C. Register (I guess they did have a sports section this morning) and the L.A. Times both focused on that aspect of tonight's game this morning.

I thought this quote from Andy was interesting: “We had a team meeting at one point there, and guys were like, ‘We have to stop waiting for these guys to come back. They’re not coming back.' And then all of a sudden, there are rumors that Scotty’s coming back. There was speculation that they would come back, wouldn’t come back. I think that was a little bit of a distraction for the team, but certainly I’ll bet they’re happy to have both of those guys back.”

So there you have it, folks. It was a distraction. But I think we already knew that.

Meanwhile, the Blues website has an interview with McDonald shot after today's morning skate. Try to get past the reporter with the awful, wrinkled turtleneck and the shoddy audio to catch Andy's thoughts on the game. (By the way, whose cell phone did they use to shoot that thing?) Also try to get past the fact that Andy didn't bother taking off his helmet. Great player, Andy McDonald. Not a good interviewee.

Just as the Ducks are struggling, the Blues aren't so hot either. They had dropped seven in a row before getting a win at Toronto, which is kind of like beating the junior varsity at this point.

I'm not great at making predictions (judged by my recent football betting performance in Vegas two weekends ago), but I really like the Ducks tonight. I see them bouncing back from getting embarrassed on Wednesday night and playing well. Then again, I could be wrong.

Last thing. I don't know how many different ways Brian Burke has to say he's not leaving Anaheim for Toronto, but some people are still not getting the message.

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