Matt Beleskey turns his season around
If there is one player who has perhaps benefitted the most from the Ducks replacing former coach Randy Carlyle with Bruce Boudreau, it is left wing Matt Beleskey.
Beleskey is skating on the second line and chipping in with goals, which is far different from when he was a fourth-liner and occasional healthy scratch that was put on waivers back in the latter part of November.
Only a week after Beleskey cleared waivers, the Ducks fired Carlyle. The winger’s game has perked up noticeably every since.
“I didn’t know if I was going to Syracuse or who knows where,” Beleskey said
“It was definitely a good change for me and happened to be a good time for me. I’ve just got to keep working and hopefully it stays like this.”
With an assist on Wednesday against Carolina, Beleskey has points in four of his last five games. He’s also scored goals in two of his last four games and three times in the last six contests he’s appeared in.
All four of his goals this season have come in his last nine games, rekindling images of the physical winger who scored 11 times as a rookie in 2009-10 before his game went away from him for more than a year at the NHL level.
Boudreau downplayed his impact on Beleskey, saying that “maybe I got lucky and got him when he was ready to go.” He sees a player that is now brimming with confidence.
“Confidence is a huge issue to athletes and if you have it, you think you can’t do (anything) wrong,” Boudreau said. “And if you don’t have it, you don’t think you can do anything right.”
After going nearly a calendar year without scoring a goal and spending long parts of last season in the minors, Beleskey wondered if his scoring touch had left him for good.
“I think the hardest part really is mentally not psyching yourself out and telling yourself you can’t do it,” he said. “It’s something where you’ve just got to keep working hard. If you work hard and play hard, it’s going to happen eventually.
“That’s the only mindset you’ve got to have. I’m sure there’s a time where it wasn’t looking too good. But things have turned around so that’s good.”
–A league source said that the NHL rescinded the game misconduct given to defenseman Luca Sbisa on Monday in a 3-2 shootout win over Calgary. Sbisa was assessed a five-minute major penalty for a hit to the head of Flames winger Tim Jackman and was booted from the game early in the third period, leaving the Ducks to play with just five defensemen the rest of the way. Replays appeared to show Sbisa deliver a clean hit to Jackman with the side of his helmet inadvertently hitting him. Jackman stayed on the ice for a few moments but eventually returned to the game. “That’s what I thought was going to happen anyways,” Sbisa said. “Because when it happened, I knew I didn’t catch him with my elbow. Because my head was humming pretty good too from hitting his head.”
–During the club’s annual field trip for kids from area elementary schools, Ryan Getzlaf wowed more than 15,000 students by cranking up a slap shot that reached 102 miles per hour during the skills competition. It only begged the often-asked question of why the Ducks’ captain doesn’t fire that cannon more often. “We’ve been telling him to shoot,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Coaches long before me have been telling him to shoot. And we wish he’d shoot the puck more. But he is what he is. He’s a pass-first guy. He’s got a great touch when it comes to passing. He’s going to do what he does.” Many believe the big center has the capacity to score 30 goals, but Getzlaf has never had more than 25 and has only eight thus far in 2011-12.
–Veteran goaltender Antero Niittymaki was loaned by the San Jose Sharks to the Syracuse Crunch, the Ducks’ affiliate in the American Hockey League. Niittymaki, 31, has been with the Sharks’ minor-league team in Worcester, Mass., after recovering from a hip injury. The move apparently is for him to get more playing time and showcase himself as the Sharks are stocked with goalie prospects in their system. In five games with Worcester, Niittymaki went 2-3 with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage. He joined the Crunch for its road game Tuesday night against the Connecticut Whale but did not dress in their 3-1 loss.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “You look at where we are in the standings and what we’ve done in the last month. Every point counts for us. It doesn’t matter who it’s against or what. We needed it before the road trip. We didn’t want to go on the road trip on a losing note. Eight games is a long way. It can make or break our season.” — Corey Perry, on the Ducks’ 3-2 overtime win over Carolina ahead of an eight-game road trip.
–G Jonas Hiller stopped 31 shots and has now allowed two or fewer goals in 11 of his last 13 decisions. Hiller has gone 9-2-2 in that time with a 1.93 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
–LW Matt Beleskey got an assist against Carolina and now has points in four of his last five games. Beleskey’s four goals and eight assists this season have come since Bruce Boudreau took over as coach on Nov. 30.
–C Nick Bonino got his fourth goal of the season. Now entrenched as the third-line pivot, Bonino has two goals and four assists over his last 10 contests.
–RW Corey Perry got his third career overtime goal with his game-winning score against Carolina. Perry’s last overtime winner came March 20, 2011 against Calgary. The winger leads the Ducks with 23 goals.
–RW Devante Smith-Pelly has been sent to Syracuse of the American Hockey League for a conditioning assignment after recovering from a broken bone in his left foot on Dec. 26 while playing for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships.
–G Dan Ellis continues to rehabilitate after tearing his groin muscle during a Jan. 7 practice. Ellis, who has had a groin issue throughout the season, began skating on Wednesday and is expect to start a stretching regimen next week. He is out indefinitely.
–Francois Beauchemin, Cam Fowler
–Luca Sbisa, Lubomir Visnovsky
–Toni Lydman, Sheldon Brookbank
–LW Bobby Ryan, C Ryan Getzlaf, RW Corey Perry
–LW Matt Beleskey, C Saku Koivu, RW Teemu Selanne
–LW Jason Blake, C Nick Bonino, RW Andrew Cogliano
–LW Niklas Hagman, C Rod Pelley, RW George Parros