Anaheim Ducks (22-18-5, t-5th in west) at Pittsburgh Penguins (21-20-4, t-9th in east)
Stamkos vs. Doughty? Meh. Give me some Crosby vs. Ryan any day.
I really don’t have much to say about tonight’s game that I haven’t covered in yesterday’s PuckToon. Both teams have sucked at accumulating standings points since Selanne’s injury nearly a month ago, although definitely Anaheim’s underlying numbers are more comforting than Pittsburgh’s (strangely, I feel that you have to be a pretty good team to lose six 4-3 games in a twelve-game span). I do, however, feel a bit compelled to revisit the Ducks season preview that I wrote for The Pensblog (new home here) last summer, as it may turn out to be a solid prediction -- this part was directed at mourning Pens fans:
First, though, let me take a moment and offer my condolences. Yeah, I know it's been tough, watching your playoff team forge a 12-2 record through three rounds of the playoffs (including an opening-round sweep of the defending finalists), only to start the cup finals by scoring zero goals in games one and two. To make matters worse, during the summer your superstar winger goes and signs cheap with an already-cup favorite.
A real pity.
Well, let me tell you a parallel story about a 2003 Mighty Ducks squad, who also forged a 12-2 record through three rounds of the playoffs (including an opening-round sweep of the defending champs), only to start the cup finals by scoring zero goals in games one and two. To make matters worse, during the summer our superstar winger went and signed cheap with an already-cup favorite (Paul Kariya to the Colorado Avalanche, but don't worry -- that didn't work out for anybody).
And while I've glossed over a lot (the Mighty Ducks were always underdogs and had a better French goalie), the similarities are striking, no? If the Penguins plan on sticking to the Ducks' storyline, I'll give you a brief roadmap of your next four years:
Year One: Awful. The crash-back-to-earth year. The Ducks finished 29-35-10, good for 12th in the west.
Don’t worry, it goes on to reassure Pens fans that they are only 3+ years removed from their cup championship, assuming they stick to the Ducks’ pattern (change owners, change GM, change coach, change nearly the entire roster, change uniforms, change team name, change arena name, etc.). It may seem painful, but I'd stick to it, Pens fans. 2012 isn't that far away.
At any rate, this post's "crash back to earth" theme isn't really about hockey trends so much as it is about the final half-season of Battlestar Galactica. New episodes are back on tonight for the first time since June, and I am frakking excited.
After three-plus seasons of searching, the Galactica crew and the Cylon alliance has finally found Earth -- and after an initial celebration, they quickly realize that the destination they've been searching for sucks (why? Can't say -- last season ended with about 45 seconds of earth time tease).
In some ways, I consider Bobby Ryan to be Anaheim's equivalent of Galactica's Earth -- three-plus seasons of waiting for the long-promised #2 overall pick to make his mark on the team, and right now we seem to be in the glorious stage of limitless promise -- the celebration that erupted when Adama announced to the crew that they had finally found Earth. So far, there's no downside -- the kid seems incredible on offense, seems to have a solid mindset, and has quickly won over Anaheim crowds as almost a savior. It's actually pretty cool to see, because I really had no idea what to expect -- he could have turned out to be a long-awaited disappointment, much like we saw in the Sci Fi series.
In either case, I'm quite eager to see what becomes of the last half-season of Galactica, and I'm also quite eager to see what becomes of the career of Bobby Ryan. Years of anticipation are finally in their early stages of fruition, and it's damn exciting to see.
Prediction: Humans 4, Cylons 3. Goals by Niedermayer, Perry, Pahlsson, and Earth.
Go Ducks (So say we all).