Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
The whistle work in the Ducks/Preds series has been up and down so far. Kevin Pollock and Chris Lee turned a blind eye to several plays in the series opener, but Marc Joannette and Francois St. Laurent attempted to instill some discipline from the end of their raised arms in Game 2.
The latter approach, attempting to calm the growing animosity in the series, is particularly intriguing, if it's even possible. The Ducks have long been painted as the modern Broad Street Bullies, though the validity of that comparison has waned steadily since the franchise's run to the Cup in 2007. Anaheim may have picked up problem children Maxim Lapierre, Jarko Ruutu and Ray Emery this year, but that only highlights the fact that the team has been short on sandpaper lately, with Ryan Getzlaf leading the team in hits by a wide margin since the departure of Chris Kunitz.
Daniel, the Ducks clearly aren't as tough as they used to be, so is it to the team's advantage that this series stay chippy?
My instincts say that a chippy series benefits the Ducks. It's a good way to wear down the Preds and potentially force more errors. It's easier to get to a rebound if the defender is too exhausted to take out his man.
However, the anemic Predators power play has found success against the Ducks. Nashville has 3 PP goals on the Anaheim penalty killing unit. Meanwhile, the Ducks have had to rely on 5-on-3 advantages to get the offense going. The Ducks will get the worst of the calls based on reputation, even if the Predators are matching them blow for blow and slash for slash.
Still, the Ducks play better when they play nasty. There's a reason calling Getzlaf The Hulk caught on so quickly around here, and how the captain goes, the team goes.
I suppose my final definitive answer is that the Ducks should keep it chippy, but improve their special teams play. They are going to have to do more with fewer PP opportunities, and they need to tighten up on the kill.
I don't think this is the same team that played better when it played nasty. Getzlaf may be the same player that played better when he played nasty, but this team isn't ready to rally around that.
In recent brawls with St. Louis and San Jose, the Ducks have been successfully pushed around, and they took losses because of it. I think that if the series continues to go this way, you'll see Anaheim on the wrong end of things. It's not Sammy Pahlsson and Travis Moen out there, holding the forecheck and pinning defensemen against the boards. It's not Chris Kunitz out there flying into guys or Dustin Penner standing stoic through punishment in front of the crease. And it's certainly not Chris Pronger.
That's not to say that every player's reaction to play getting chippy is going to look like Bobby Ryan's stomp, but it's not automatic that the Ducks will be on the right end of a chippy series, especially with young players like Sbisa, Beleskey and McMillan trying to contribute to the animosity. That can put us on the wrong side of penalties, along with valuable players that don't know how to walk the retaliation line properly ending up in the box.
There is an art to using physicality to frustrate the opposition, and this Ducks roster is not well-trained in that art.