The Ducks really looked good tonight, manhandling the Grizzlies. Foster, O'Brien, Brookbank and Rome pounded the Utah forwards and kept them on the outside all game. The goals by Perreault and Chistov were both beautiful, capitalizing on turnovers. Chistov had a much better game tonight and was really chippy along the boards and in the corners. Just the way he moved and jumped into the play, he's a special player.
Smirnov, Lupul, and Chistov were paired together during the third period and danced around the Utah defenders. It was fun to watch. Unfortunately, after the Ducks third goal they just sat back and let Utah come to them, not getting any quality chances in the third period.
The Grizzlies scored on their only good chance of the game, Doull finding McLeod with a cross-ice pass for an open net. The other two goals were flukes, one from a point shot that went off the post, bounced of Bryzgalov's back and in. The other went off a defenseman in front and went five-hole. Cincinnati is a really talented club and they'll be fun to watch all year.
So far I've enjoyed the changes. The no-play zones aren't really a factor very often. Usually if a team dumps the puck in it's going to make its way around the boards where the goalie can grab it behind the net. The AHL game is a lot different than the NHL because you rarely see goalies cut off a dump-in and clear it out when defenders are moving into the zone. In the NHL you'll see guys like Turco and Belfour do it all the time. So, no real difference there.
I really like the thicker lines. There aren't nearly as many offside calls because the players have a little extra space to work the puck across the line, it's nice. Also, I noticed the difference on the power play. Defensemen and guys playing the point are able to keep it in a lot better. Usually, you'll see the puck dribble a few inches over the line and the play is ruined. With the thicker lines guys have that extra space and it makes a big difference.
Also, everyone loves a shootout. It was the only time in my life I've seen people leave a game (at the end of OT, not knowing that there would be a shootout) and people actually ran out into the concourse and brought them back into the game, letting them know a shootout was happening. It was incredible.