Open Gameday Thread: Vancouver Canucks @ Anaheim Ducks

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Fresh off their first road win in forever, the Ducks return home tonight to begin a six-game home stand that opens with a game against last year's Western Conference champs. While this appears to be a total mismatch on paper, the Canucks are actually unlucky enough to be one of the eight teams that we've managed to beat this year. While I'm not predicting Sharks-style dominance (humor me, it's the only thing going right this year), Anaheim has actually matched up very well against Vancouver in recent years. The Ducks' physical style seems to knock Vancouver off their game and Roberto Luongo always seems to struggle against Anaheim (I'll leave the Looo-bashing to others). [Ed. Note: Bobby Lu has been chased out of net tonight in favor of backup Cory Schneider.]

In looking at the Ducks' wins this year, one strange thing pops out at me: Anaheim is beating good teams. Sure, the Kings and the Canadiens aren't much to sneeze at this year (and Phoenix has recently dropped off), but here's the point totals and current conference standing of the eight teams the Ducks have vanquished in 2011-2012:

Team

Points

Conference Standing*

New York Rangers

48

1

Vancouver Canucks

46

2

San Jose Sharks

41

3

St. Louis Blues

46

5

Minnesota Wild

45

6

Phoenix Coyotes

39

10

Los Angeles Kings

39

11

Montréal Canadiens

35

12

* Before play on 12/28/11

What does all of this mean? Who knows. In a season rife with frustrating outcomes, this is just another quirk to add to the pile of confusing and unexpected data.

Saku Koivu practiced yesterday and has once again been labeled a game-time decision by Boudreau, who has said that he hopes Koivu will play. [Ed. Note #2: He's officially out for his eighth consecutive game. This is bad. Very, very bad.] While Nick Bonino played probably his best game of his NHL career on Monday night, the Ducks badly need the second line to begin clicking again like they were before Koivu went down.

I'm not crazy enough to think of what it would take to make the playoffs at this point, but stringing together back-to-back wins (and the third straight game with points) would probably go a long way toward making the Ducks feel a little better about themselves.

Go Ducks.

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