After a gameday in which I implored Anaheim's big guns (Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan) and PP to wake up, you'd better believe I'm taking credit for tonight's 5-3 win. I got both of my wishes, with the big three combining for four goals and eight points and the power play finding the back of the net on three occasions.
Yet, as is the Ducks' way, this game wasn't a total success. Despite dominating through the first two periods of play (after which they led 4-1), Anaheim got a little too conservative in the third period, giving the Blue Jackets some late life. The Ducks were also forced to play over half the game with only five defensemen, as Lubomir Visnovsky received a game misconduct early in the second period for not having his jersey tied down.
Still, even with their flaws, the Ducks are off to a great start on their 8-game road swing. Three points in two games is a nice feat on the road, and they'll need to keep extracting points from games if they're going to have any shot of clawing their way back into the playoffs. As of press time, the Ducks find themselves nine points out of the eighth spot.Good
- Corey Perry owns the Blue Jackets. For the second time this season, Perry recorded a hat trick against the lowly Jackets, this time completing the feat in just over 30 minutes. Perry's first goal was a beautiful sniped a shot over Steve Mason's shoulder and his final two goals were quick strikes on the power play. Last season, Perry powered the Ducks during their stretch-run. Here's hoping that he's ready to once again pilot the ship.
- I was admittedly skeptical about using Jason Blake instead of Bobby on the top line, but I have to say that it worked pretty well. The BPG line accounted for two goals at even strength and finished a combined plus-six. Blake even showed some strong puck-handling skills when he took a touch-pass from Getzlaf and deked Mason to give the Ducks a two-goal lead early in the second.
- How about that power play? After only cashing in on 2 of their previous 25 opportunities, Anaheim's PP converted 3 of their 4 chances with the man-advantage. And it wasn't just that they scored three times, it was the way they scored. The Ducks moved the puck around at will on the PP and were able to gain entry when they needed to. It was also refreshing to see Bobby pick up his first PP marker of the year.
- Jonas Hiller was nails once again. He had no chance on either of the Blue Jackets' two PP goals, and their even strength goal was a deft tip-in that Jonas had little chance of defending. There were several sequences throughout the game where Jonas stopped an initial shot and two or three rebounds before finally getting a clear or whistle. More so than perhaps even their stud forwards, the Ducks live and die on Hiller's play.
- The third period looked way too much like the old Randy Carlyle Ducks. With a four-goal lead heading into the third, they simply stopped attacking. They were content to just move the puck out of their zone and into the defensive zone, rather than aggressively carrying the play. While they did manage to outshoot the Blue Jackets 8-7 in the third, it was apparent that the Ducks were holding on for dear life rather than pressing their advantage.
- Columbus pretty much handled the Ducks physically all night, outhitting them 21 to 6. In several instances, the Ducks retaliated and took ill-advised penalties. While they came out on the right side of the result tonight, Anaheim cannot afford to be pushed around at will. On most night, they're a team that needs to assert their dominance and physical edge to stay engaged.
- After weeks of shutting down other teams, the PK gave up two goals tonight that looked far too easy. Hopefully it's just a blip on the radar, but Columbus soundly abused the Ducks' PK unit tonight.
- Lubomir Visnovsky did not have a good night. In addition to two horrible turnovers that gave the Blue Jackets premium scoring opportunities, he was goaded into a fight with Derick Brassard that eventually cost him his night, as Lubo did not have his jersey tied down. He was given a five-minute major for fighting (the first major penalty of his career), two minutes for roughing, and game misconduct. Not only do I never want to see Lubo fight, but having to play nearly 35 minutes with only 5 defensemen could have ended in disaster for the Ducks.