In games like tonight's versus San Jose, you can really see one of the drastic differences between the coaching styles of Randy Carlyle and Bruce Boudreau. When the Ducks took the 3-2 lead into the third period, a typical Carlyle move would be to run the the top two lines and D-parings the rest of the way, exhausting the players in the most crucial part of the game. Boudreau trusted his troops enough to continue to roll all four lines in the third period, just as he had done in the first two. It would be up to the players to make smart plays in order to give everyone a short shift.
It's this philosophy that helps to build consistency throughout the lineup. You can't have depth scoring - a must have for all Cup hopefuls - without giving your depth players time on the ice. Tonight, Luca Sbisa (3rd D-paring), Andrew Cogliano (3rd line), and an often moved, super streaky Bobby Ryan (2nd line) contributed to the Ducks win. While all wins are "must wins" at this point in the season, this one has to feel especially good. The Ducks are now 3-0 against the Sharks and finally got a win on the road.
Next six games are at Honda Center. There is no more "the Ducks need to build on this win". Instead it's "the Ducks MUST build on this win". Do or die time from here on out.
-- Said it in the intro, depth scoring! I thought the 3rd line of Cogliano - Andrew Gordon - Matt Beleskey and 4th line of George Parros - Rod Pelley - Jean-Francois Jacques had really good games tonight. Sure there are minor miscues here and there but you can always expect those guys to play hard every shift. The standout of all of the guys was Andrew Cogliano. By far, his best game of the season (excluding face offs)
-- This was one of the most complete games the Ducks have played all season. I'd say they played a solid 50 minutes of the 60 minute game. It was a relief to see how much pressure the entire Ducks squad was putting on Antii Niemi. Niemi just looked rattled. If not for some epic stops by him, the Ducks could have scored a couple more goals. I'm not sure if you credit this win to the three straight days off for the holiday or the Ducks stepping up their game, but I liked what I saw.
-- I have been really hard on Ryan Getzlaf lately and most of it is deserved. I thought he had a strong - not great - game tonight. He's the team leader in hits again with 5. There were a few plays where he out muscled the Sharks and came up with the puck. He has phenomenal puck handling ability and it would show itself throughout the night. My only knock is the face offs. He went 9 for 17 and lost a really crucial draw against Patrick Marleau that set up a nasty one timer. Other than that, solid-ish game.
-- Right as I was about to file an missing persons APB with the FBI, Bobby Ryan re-surfaced tonight. His pickpocket of Joe Thorton leading to a break away goal was a thing of beauty. He tied with Gordon and Beleskey for the second most hits with 4. (The team as a whole out-hit San Jose 35 to 22. They play so much better when they're hitting.) Hopefully this means Bobby is going to start putting together a scoring run. He does well at home and has six games to build momentum.
-- Speaking of Joe Thornton, he had 5 turnovers tonight, the most on either team and was booed by the home crowd. Sweet.
-- Tonight was one of those games where the goaltender just has to keep his team in the game. Jonas Hiller had some incredible saves and played a pretty error free game. This is what the Ducks need him to be from here on out. He doesn't have to be perfect, he (and Dan Ellis) just has to keep them in it.
-- San Jose's penalty kill is 29th in the NHL. The Ducks had two power play opportunities and those should have resulted in easy goals. If the Ducks have any hope of making a run, the PK needs to stay good and the PP must get back to where it was a season prior.
-- Faceoffs continue to be an area of concern without Saku Koivu in the lineup: Getzlaf at 53%, Bonino at 43%, Pelley at 57%, and Cogliano at 46%. Hopefully Koivu is ready to go on Thursday versus Vancouver.
-- The first 10 minutes of the 3rd period saw the Ducks reverting back into their playing to protect the lead ways instead of playing to increase the lead. As scary as having a lead is this season, the Ducks have to do everything they can keep up the pressure on the opponents and force them to stop the Ducks from scoring.
-- Side note with some sad news out of World Juniors: Devante Smith-Pelly blocked a shot in today's game versus Finland resulting in a fracture. Ducks are saying he's out 4-6 weeks. No decision has been made by the Ducks whether to summon DSP back to Anaheim for recovery or let him hang out and watch his countrymen lose to the USA! :)
-- Although I applaud their creativity, the throwing of an actual duck corpse on the ice was gross. Think about it, the duck landed on the ice with about five minutes to go in the 3rd period. That means someone had a dead duck strapped to them on their body through almost the entire game. Ewww! Does this mean I have to bring a dead Shark to Honda Center in response?
-- Corey Perry is the reigning MVP. I've said it before, with notoriety comes more attention. Perry is not going to get the benefit of the doubt any more with officials - ever. The penalty he took in the final minutes of the third was wishy-washy but it's what the refs are going to be looking at when it comes to Perry and scrums in front of his own net. It's not Perry's style to be an angel on the ice, but he has to watch himself late in the games. Even the smallest of infractions will be called. That cannot continue to happen.