Maybe I should stick to youth hockey?

Well, that didn’t take long.

Within hours of writing this yesterday:

“Frankly, the Ducks take a lot of undisciplined penalties (they spend 14 and half minutes per game in the box, in the bottom six in the league) and seem to complain to the refs a lot … in addition to not always seeming prepared. Those factors point to the coach, but I remain convinced Randy Carlyle won’t be going anywhere. The ownership still remembers 2007.”

The Ducks promptly went out and defeated the Montreal Candiens … and then fired Carlyle.

Clearly predictions aren’t a strong suit in this corner.

A few thoughts on Bruce Boudreau‘s hiring (and maybe Bobby Ryan should contact movers now because I really don’t think they’ll trade him — if they ever were considering that option). I think Boudreau will bring a needed new voice and most likely tailor his coaching to the players’ strengths, and that bodes well for players such as Ryan, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, as well as their more offensively gifted defensemen.

A quick did you know on Boudreau — it was his apartment in Johnstown, Pa., that Paul Newman “lived” in during “Slap Shot”. That, if nothing else, bodes well for the Ducks.

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Straying from youth hockey to the NHL for a moment

I had the opportunity to watch all three of California’s NHL teams in person during a four-day span recently, and I came away with the following impressions.

The Anaheim Ducks will have long road back to the playoffs. Duh, they’ve lost 16 of 18 games and can’t hold a lead.

I watched them give up four goals in the first nine minutes of the third period to Chicago and snatch a 6-5 defeat from what once was a 4-1 lead. And I don’t blame Jonas Hiller for the Blackhawks’ outburst, though he could have stopped a few of the goals in the third-period blitz. The Ducks’ d-zone coverage was willy nilly (to put it mildly) all game, and particularly so in the third.

But the Ducks’ problems extend beyond a leaky defense, which clearly misses Lubomir Visnovsky. If the top two lines don’t score, the Ducks don’t score.  23 games into the season no forward not named Selanne-Perry-Getzlaf-Koivu-Ryan has more than nine points.

But the top line of Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry-Bobby Ryan is a combined minus-29, so for all the offense they provide (45 points, including 21 goals) they give up a lot more. One forward you can’t fault is Teemu Selanne, who not only leads the team in points (22), but is just minus-3, a Selke Trophy candidate compared to his top-line brethren.

Rumors of a Ryan trade are flooding the Internet, and he’s an easy target given he has just 11 points in 23 games and a minus-6. But do you really want to trade a player of Ryan’s ability so early in his career? If they could pry Shea Weber or Ryan Suter from Nashville, OK. But unless you’re talking a franchise defenseman, forget it.

Frankly, the Ducks take a lot of undisciplined penalties (they spend 14 and half minutes per game in the box, in the bottom six in the league) and seem to complain to the refs a lot … in addition to not always seeming prepared. Those factors point to the coach, but I remain convinced Randy Carlyle won’t be going anywhere. The ownership still remembers 2007.

Monday, I watched the Kings shut out the Sharks at Staples Center.

The Kings played aggressively from the start and it paid off with some gritty goals. They also built a fairly substantial shot advantage, which few teams do to the Sharks.

But then the Kings seemed to get conservative and back roared the puck-possessing Sharks. In the end, goaltender Jonathan Quick was the difference, and he had to be. Once the Sharks gained control of the puck, they started to get power plays, and Quick was brilliant, often stopping second and third chances.

I expect both to be playoff teams, and it wouldn’t surprise me if both won a round, but I also saw some warning signs for both teams.

The Sharks were a bit careless with the puck, particularly on the blue line. Dan Boyle and Brett Burns are extremely talented players, but both had multiple give-aways. But both demonstrated how their puck-moving abilities also can spark San Jose’s transition game.

The Kings seem deeper than in years past, but they’re still missing a creative offensive player or two. Yes, Mike Richards helps their offense (and defense), but I still saw Anze Kopitar getting ganged up on. Simon Gagne is still a very good player, but injuries clearly have robbed him of something over the years.

When the Kings play aggressively, but don’t warm the penalty box seat, they’re tough to deal with. Sustaining that appeared problematic.

The difference, the Kings’ lockdown style could work in the playoffs if they can manufacture timely goals and stay out of the penalty box. I had the sense watching the Sharks that I’ve seen this before, which means a very good regular season and who knows after that.

Nine from California reach the NHL this season

Nine players with direct ties to California played in the NHL this season, and two – defensemen Brian Salcido (Anaheim) and Ray Macias (Colorado) – made their NHL debuts in 2009.

And there is an interesting connection between those two. Salcido’s father, Frank, has coached numerous youth hockey teams over the years in Southern California, and Macias’ mother, Helen, often served as his team manager with the LA Jr. Kings. The families are close, and both have plenty to celebrate this season.

Two other notable performances were by Anaheim rookie Bobby Ryan, who spent part of his early teen years in Southern California playing for the old El Segundo Regents and the Jr. Kings travel teams, and Islanders veteran Richard Park. Ryan led all NHL rookies in scoring (57) and goals (31) – both Ducks records – and is a favorite for the Calder Trophy, while Park scored a career-high 14 goals and wore an A most of the season on Long Island. Interestingly, both played major junior in the OHL.

Others in the league this season: Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios, who played Bantam and Midget hockey in San Diego; Toronto forward Ryan Hollweg, a product of the old Norwalk ice rink; Atlanta forward Brett Sterling, who played out of Pasadena; Dallas forward Landon Wilson, who played minor hockey in LA while his dad was a Kings assistant coach, and Dallas defenseman Garrett Stafford, who registered his first NHL points during his recall with the Stars. Stafford also played in LA against the Kings for the first time in early April.

For the complete rundown on the alumni’s seasons, visit calirubber.com

And thanks for making this month’s the highest yet for traffic (and we’re only half done!).

California hockey alumni updates

This week my Alumni Report on http://www.calirubber.com focuses on California-trained hockey players in the NCAA Division I and Division III ranks.

Several men and women are leading their teams in scoring, and a few are among the NCAA leaders.

In the Division I women’s game, Northeastern sophomore F Kristi Kehoe (Bakersfield) and Providence freshman F Laura Veharanta (La Verne) lead their respective teams in scoring, and freshman F Paula Romanchuk (San Jose) tops Princeton in goals.

In the Division I men’s game, sophomore F Jason Krispel (Cypress) of Connecticut, freshman F Nielsson Arcibal (Vista) of American International lead their teams in scoring, and junior F Rhett Rakhshani (Huntington Beach) of Denver, junior F Ryan Lasch (Lake Forest) of St. Cloud State and freshman F Casey Wellman (Brentwood) of Massachusetts are second on their teams in scoring.

It also was a big week for pros from California.

Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks had a five-goal week and was recognized as the NHL’s Second Star of the Week. Forwards Matt Ford of the Charlotte Checkers and Tim Kraus of the Ontario Reign were selected to the ECHL All-Star Game.

Click here for the full report

California hockey alumni report

My latest alumni report on California hockey players is posted on http://www.calirubber.com

Click here to go right to the story.

Among the highlights:

California players – particularly Vancouver defenseman Jonathon Blum and Kelowna center Colin Long – continue to dominate in the WHL. And those two and others, such as Spokane’s Mitch Wahl, Kamloops’ CJ Stretch and Everett’s Shane Harper, have some company. Rookie Tyler Maxwell is scoring at almost a point-per-game clip.

Bobby Ryan’s return to the NHL has been very solid, and read how Richard Park helped sink the Canadiens.

Matt Ford got his first AHL goal last week.

All this and more … in one place!

California hockey alumni update

My most recent California hockey alumni update is posted on http://www.calirubber.com

Please click here for the story.

Among this week’s highlights:

  • Numerous California natives are tearing up the ranks of NCAA women’s hockey, including Providence freshman Laura Veharanta of La Verne and Northeastern sophomore Kristi Kehoe of Bakersfield.
  • Bobby Ryan has been called up by the Ducks.
  • Defenseman Garrett Stafford of Los Angeles had a four-point week for Grand Rapids of the AHL.
  • And Tyler Maxwell of Manhattan Beach had a four-point game at Moose Jaw in WHL play.

Californians in the NHL and AHL in 08-09

The NHL and AHL seasons get in full swing later this week, and here is a list of players either born, trained or some combination thereof in the top two North American pro leagues.

NHL:

Atlanta – Left wing Brett Sterling made the club out of camp for the second season in a row.

Detroit – Defenseman Chris Chelios is back at age 46, but he’ll start the season on the injured list with a broken shin bone.

New York Islanders – Right wing Richard Park is in his second decade in the league with no signs of slowing down.

Toronto – Forward Ryan Hollweg has a new address this season after his trade from the New York Rangers.

The AHL ranks have expanded a bit from a year ago, but it would not surprise me in the least to see several of these players getting games in the NHL.

Grand Rapids – Defenseman Garrett Stafford is back even though he’s in Dallas’ organization instead of Detroit’s. The Wings are the primary affiliate of the Griffins. Stafford played his first NHL game last season for Detroit. He could get some more games if the Stars’ blue line experiences another run of injuries.

Grand Rapids – Forward Landon Wilson has several years of NHL experience and while he’ll bring experience to the Griffins, he can step in and help the Stars should injuries strike.

Iowa – Wing Bobby Ryan is in the AHL because of the Anaheim Ducks’ cap crunch, which is too bad after he had an outstanding camp.

Iowa – Defenseman Brian Salcido has a shot at getting his first NHL game this season. The Ducks’ carousel of veteran defenseman has the rapidly improving puck-mover in the minors … for now.

Lake Erie – Defenseman Raymond Macias is a likely fixture on the Monsters’ blue line after a good camp in Colorado.

Lowell – Forward Ryan Murphy is back with the Devils’ top farm team after going to camp in New Jersey.

Manchester – Forward Gabe Gauthier will be one of the Monarchs’ centerpieces this season, and given the parent club LA Kings’ youth movement, it would not be a surprise to see him get another NHL look at some point.

Springfield – Right wing Hans Benson spend has worked his way up to the AHL after stints in the CHL and ECHL. The Menlo Park-native brings plenty of toughness to the Falcons lineup and he played some preseason games for the Edmonton Oilers this year.

Toronto – Forward Robbie Earl was one of the Maple Leafs’ final roster cuts, and it’s a good bet he’ll be back up with the parent club this season, particularly if his defensive game rounds into form. Defense is a prerequisite to playing for new Leafs coach Ron Wilson.

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You can find my weekly report on California Alumni in hockey each Tuesday at www.calirubber.com