The Columbus Blue Jackets are next up. They have just come off a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game that was surprisingly fast-paced. Judging from fan response to this speed, CBJ didn’t "play their game," which I infer is a tighter, slower game. Having come from the Best Conference, which plays a more grinding game it seems, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Our Anaheim Ducks had a nice showing against the Ottawa Senators on Friday. After dropping the two previous, I know I was nervous as to what team would show up. If the team looked like they did in the latter half of the Toronto game and the first two periods of the game against the Montreal Canadiens, the hot Sens club was going to put a hurt on us. Instead, we took the game to them.
Sadly, we lost Jakob Silfverberg in the game. His right hand was broken, and he will be out four to six weeks. The team may also be without the services of Mathieu Perreault, who left the game. So despite taking the game to the Sens and getting the win, the team suffered some potential losses in the affair. Let's hope the team's depth and returning players can carry the load.
Keys to the Game: The Jackets are a pretty hard-working group. We know about their scorching run to try to make the postseason at the finish of the last abbreviated year, and while they don’t appear to be as energetic yet, they have three wins from their last three games going into today. Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, R.J. Umberger, and Ryan Johansen aren’t names on everyone’s lips, but they’re playing well right now. I thought Umberger and Johansen looked really good against the Leafs, so if they carry that into today, the Ducks will have some big bodies to contend with.
What Can We Learn From this Game: The Ducks really need to get the power play going. Some of you may have noticed the previous three opponents sneaking a forward into the neutral zone and trying to exploit the team with breakaways. I suspect this is happening because there’s no urgency to defend against numbers against the Ducks, leading coaches to let their forwards cheat some. Until the team gets its special teams going, opposing clubs won’t mind playing us on edge or cheating high to exploit zone coverage and giveaways.
This will be the 10th game Hampus Lindholm appears in, if he plays. As of this writing, there’s no word on his status, but I expect him to play. Mark Fistric didn’t look good against Montreal, and Sami Vatanen has probably struggled more than Lindholm has. It doesn’t make sense to take him out without Luca Sbisa in the lineup. Unless he’s suddenly available, look for Lindholm to play in game ten, triggering the first year of his entry level contract. He’s played well and deserves the games. [Ed. Note: I'm no cap-ologist but as I understand it, if Lindholm plays less than 40 NHL games this year, his restricted free agent status will be extended one more season. -CK]
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