Ducks to Flames: You Can’t Win Here

I’ve seen every angle of Mark Giordano’s knee-on-knee hit on Cam Fowler, on top of watching the play live at Honda Center. Fowler is an extremely limber young man and flexibility can help a player avoid serious injuries during plays like this. While losing Fowler for an unknown and potentially lengthy period of time is not good news for the Anaheim Ducks, the response that followed may have galvanized this team. The team reminded the Calgary Flames that they simply can’t win here in Anaheim.

The Hit

Let me preface this by making one thing clear; I don’t think Giordano intended to injure Fowler with the hit in strategic preparation for a potential playoff match-up with the Ducks. Fowler is a slick skater and opportunities to hit him hard are few and far between.

The Flames were down by a single goal at the time and planting Fowler with a hard check deep in the Ducks offensive zone could very well have led to either an odd-man rush or at minimum the opportunity to try to exploit the forward who rotated to cover for Fowler.

Giordano was not in position to still deliver a check when he approached Fowler, who had shot the puck and was just beginning to peel away from the slot. His intention was to check the dodgy Fowler and the only way he could still do so after misjudging his angle of attack was to extend his knee. Instead of altering his course to avoid contact, Giordano extends his knee and delivers the blow that injured Fowler.

Undeserved “Ref You Suck” Chant

The paying officials were all over the officials after the hit, which they paid to be able to do so let them have their fun. However, in the referees’ defense spotting the extended knee of Giordano is a virtual impossibility on this particular play. It appears harmless, as Fowler doesn’t get knocked down and glides for a few feet before crumbling to the ice in pain – making things even more difficult is the sea of humans surrounding the play. Ducks fans should be appreciative of the officials handling of the aftermath, as they acknowledged retribution was due and didn’t intervene in the Manson/Giordano fight until “the message was sent” so to speak.

Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

I had the pleasure of working with Hockey Hall of Famer and former NHL referee Bill McCreary during a couple of Ducks games in January. Following a hard hit by Josh Manson, McCreary asked “that’s not Charlie Manson’s kid is it?” I laughed and answered “yes sir it is.” Some of you may be thinking he was referring to the convicted murderer, but he was not. He was referring to Dave Manson, who is in fact Josh Manson’s father. The elder Manson earned the nickname “Charlie” Manson for his tough guy playing style. He currently holds the 13th spot (appropriately given the number’s dubious ties to evil) on the NHL all-time career penalty minutes list with 2,792.

Much like his father, Josh is mean AND talented. However, Josh appears to have learned from his father’s shortcomings, as he is far more disciplined. This allows him to contribute more than just toughness to his team’s effort. Still, the one thing both father and son have most in common is their refusal to back down from ANYONE. Manson can hold his own even with the big boys, as he proved prior to last preseason when he challenged Milan Lucic after taking exception to a Lucic hit.

Manson would do the same against Giordano shortly after the hit on Fowler. Suffice to say he made his point with his uppercut, dropping Giordano who would skate to the penalty box bloodied and stunned.

A Team United

The Ducks would continue to bring the physicality for the rest of the game. In quite ironic fashion, while Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and others were racking up the penalty minutes, the Ducks’ fourth line produced the insurance goal when Chris Wagner converted on a sweet pass from Logan Shaw.

The fans even got in on the action, sending their own message to the Flames. The packed house chanted in unison “YOU CAN’T WIN HERE!” It might be the most honest heckle/chant I’ve heard in quite a long time, as the Flames NHL record losing streak in Anaheim was extended to 25 games Tuesday night. The last time the Flames left Anaheim with a victory was so long ago that the “celebrity spotting” displayed on the big screen during the game featured Wesley Snipes. Yes, THAT long ago.

First Round Implications

As the matchups begin to fall into place, it appears likely that the Ducks and Flames have a date in the first round. If this does happen, expect a rough and tumble affair. I predict that a Ducks-Flames series will last no more than five games with the Ducks advancing. Even if it goes longer than five games, the Ducks advance by virtue of their home ice advantage because…

“You can’t win here!”