Ducks Gameday -- Welcome back, Frenchie!

Anaheim Ducks (30-21-4) at Calgary Flames (28-21-7), 6 pm
Anaheim Calling and Matchsticks & Gasoline -- SBN is as free as Egypt.  :)

Today got really swamped, so I'm pulling a long-time-blogger trick and going to archives.  Francois Beauchemin is set to make his Ducks return tonight (see my quick take on the trade itself at Anaheim Calling); here's a look back at some old post content.

August 6, 2006: Frenchie says "Oui, Oui!"

Frenchie1_medium

Fairly big news on the Anaheim front, as the Ducks have signed Francois Beauchemin to a 2-year contract extension, salary yet unknown [Edit: Per the OC Register, it is for $1.65 M each year].  I'm fairly sure that this does not affect his $500k cap number this year, as that cannot be adjusted by extensions (otherwise Lou Lamoriello would just extend contracts until he was under the cap).

Frenchie, though he certainly benefits from having Scott Niedermayer on his flank, has a nasty shot, a solid frame, and though he is a tad slow-of-foot, his positioning is generally excellent.  Scotty and Frenchie make quite a nice pairing, so don’t think it’s a coincidence both their contracts now run the same length.

Ah, remember when Frenchie cost cents-on-the-dollar?  That made his minute-eating especially valuable -- the Ducks could then spend $13M on NiederPronger without flinching.  Now there won't be any real cost savings with Frenchie this go-round, but so long as he can live up to that second paragraph's description, he will improve this year's on-ice product.  And in a crazily-tight western conference, I support that.

May 11, 2007: Red Wings Shooting Guide

Stolen from Mike Babcock's playbook, page 34:

Figure 1: Where to shoot to beat J.S. Giguere
Shootingguide1_medium

Losing G1 2-1 is not the worst possible outcome for the Ducks, but it certainly is not the best.  There are some things to take solace in: the Ducks outshot the Wings 32-19 and carried a lot of the play -- Detroit at home this postseason was averaging a +17 shot differential and hadn't been outshot yet.  Plus I can't really fault Giguere for either goal that went in.

The Ducks not only played a really good road game (they had a tie game with 5 minutes to go), but it was also a really good set-the-tone G1.  Positives abound.

But damn, I'd rather have the win.

This of course came after the opening game of the 2007 WCF -- the Wings won with both goals deflecting in off of poor Frenchie.  Desolate times called for a silly image -- and hey, who says there's no such thing as karma?  Later in that series, in last regulation minute of the pivotal G5, the Ducks themselves scored a tying goal that fluttered past Hasek off the stick of Nick Lidstrom.  Andreas Lilja and Teemu Selanne would later team up for the overtime winner.

June 19, 2008: More Number-Crunching with Scott

I did want to focus a bit on Francois Beauchemin's play, however, who has spent nearly his entire career letting Scott cover his ass.  You can see that Frenchie in particular struggled without Scott (and was redeemed upon Scott's return), and I think a lot of that stems from the bad habits that developed under Scott's tutelage.  I've drawn a little schematic to the right to demonstrate this.

Niedermayerbeauchemin1_medium

Normally, when a puck gets dumped behind two defensemen, it's likely a 50-50 split which defenseman will go retrieve the puck, depending on what side of the net the puck is directed.  For Scott and Frenchie, though, they've developed something like a 80-20 split, where Beauchemin gets only the very close dump-ins and expects his fleet-footed partner to gather the rest.  I remember watching a Scott-less Beauchemin very carefully in the opening 34 games, and to my eyes I could spot this happening to poor spoiled Frenchie -- he was so used to not retrieving pucks that he'd often leave his defensive partner with silly responsibilities that only a guy like Niedermayer could make look effortless.

I'm not blaming Beauchemin for anything, really -- if my back was always covered I'm sure I'd develop bad habits also, but that's another reason I really want Scott to return; he not only helps other defensive pairs manage their minutes better but also carries bad-habit Beauchemin into respectable results.  Someday Frenchie is going to have to re-learn his puck responsibilities when paired with an average partner, but I don't want it to happen this year.

Frenchie really had a tough time with Niedermayer's first retirement -- he was outscored a ton before the bearded one's return.  Still, he recovered excellently upon Scotty's return and should pair nicely with Fowler, I hope.

Crap -- I've got to get back to work.  Feel free to reminisce or reflect on Frenchie in the comments.

* * *

I will not be around for game comments tonight -- do your best without me.  I'm watching the game later on DVR-delay with a nocturnal buddy of mine, so don't text me or anything, and try not to get in too much trouble.

Prediction:  The Ducks are 12-4-0 in their last 16; the Flames are 10-1-2 in their last 13.  Wowzers.  Ducks win a shootout, just to piss Kings fans off.

Go Ducks.

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