Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/4/12
Cam Fowler vowed to do something about that minus-25 mark that was a stain on a promising 10-goal, 40-point rookie season in 2010-11. However, the 20-year-old Ducks defenseman might finish with numbers trending the wrong way as a sophomore. Fowler entered Tuesday night's game against Vancouver with this line: Five goals, 24 assists and a minus-27 rating. The last number left him with the worst plus-minus mark the NHL until he reversed course against the Canucks with a plus-2 mark in a team-high 27-plus minutes of ice time during the Ducks' 5-4, shootout loss. Fowler and his coach, Bruce Boudreau, will tell you that the ugly numbers don't tell the accurate story of a season that's been about further laying the foundation for his career. "Personally, I think I've made tremendous gains in my game," Fowler said. "Coming from last year and even at the beginning of this season, I think I've taken some big steps. "The numbers may not show it, but I think numbers aren't important. It matters what my teammates, my coaching staff and management think. Talking with Bruce and (assistant) coach (Bob) Woods, I think they're happy with how things are going." At 20, Fowler is handling one of the most demanding positions on the ice. His average ice time of 23 minutes, 11 seconds is second only to defense partner Francois Beauchemin, and the only thing he doesn't do regularly is kill penalties. There have been steps forward, backward and sideways. Fowler was a minus player in eight previous games heading into Tuesday, but there is no hint of a suggestion that the Ducks are displeased with his development. Boudreau throws Fowler out there every night because the young player has the kind of skating and puck-moving skill that most at his position don't. "I think the numbers are a little askew," Boudreau said, "but he's getting better defensively, and he's starting to get points offensively. I still think he's a 10-plus goal guy and he's a 40-point plus guy. And I would venture to guess that next year he's going to be a plus player. "His strides after two years in the NHL are immense." But while he focuses on the gains he has made, Fowler admits that it is difficult to ignore the black-and-white figures that often define players. "It is hard," he said. "It's something that people like to throw around. You cannot watch a single minute of our games this year and look at the number and (conclude) that he had a terrible season. "They say numbers don't lie. I think in this case ... there's always things I can do better. For whatever reason this year, the bounces haven't really gone anyone's way." NOTES, QUOTES Former fifth-round pick signs with Ducks --The Ducks signed Colgate forward Chris Wagner, 20, to a three-year, entry-level contract. Wagner, a fifth-round pick of the Ducks in 2010, had 17 goals and 34 assists in his sophomore season with the Raiders. Capgeek.com reported that his NHL salary is 900,000 each season, which includes a 90,000 signing bonus each year. Wagner's salary in the American Hockey League will be 67,500. He finished tied for the ECAC lead in assists, and his 51 points were second in the league behind teammate and Hobey Baker Award finalist Austin Smith. The native of Walpole, Mass., also plays with some snarl, as he led Colgate with 69 penalty minutes. --A few Ducks players will be coveted by their native countries to play in the IIHF World Hockey Championships, and a couple have confirmed that they will indeed participate. Ryan Getzlaf said he would play for Canada, and he suggested that linemate Corey Perry is thinking of playing as well. Getzlaf and Perry won gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Bobby Ryan said that he would play for the United States. Ryan claimed silver with the rest of his American squad in Vancouver. The tournament will take place May 4-20 in Helsinki and Stockholm, with the medal games played in Helsinki. Saku Koivu said he is considering playing for Finland only because the event will finish in his native country. --Much of the crowd for the Ducks' home finale on Sunday was there to see Teemu Selanne perhaps play for the final time in Anaheim. One man, though, was there to see Mat Clark in the first home game of his career. Clark's father, Graham, was able to make it to Anaheim to see his son's NHL debut. "He has been at all my first games, you know, first pro game, first OHL game and now first NHL game, too," said Clark, 21, who played slightly more than 11 minutes against Edmonton. "We just shared the moment. It was pretty cool for both of us." Clark was back in the lineup Tuesday against Vancouver and also logged 11 minutes. QUOTE TO NOTE: "You just find a way to motivate yourself and everything. I think we can't be happy with just finishing up and losing the games or whatever. We want to win, and I thought we had a chance tonight, but we didn't do it." -- Ducks G Jonas Hiller, on playing out the string, after Tuesday's shootout loss to Vancouver. ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: --LW Bobby Ryan had three assists for his third three-point night of the season and second in the span of seven games. Ryan has 11 points in his last 11 contests. --RW Devante Smith-Pelly had a goal and an assist for the first multi-point game of his young career. The rookie is starting to chip in points consistently, as he has scored in four of his last eight games, giving him 12 in all over 47 games. --C Rod Pelley scored against Vancouver, giving him just his second goal of the season. His other goal came Dec. 14, when he delivered in his first game with the Ducks after being acquired from New Jersey in a trade.
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