The Anaheim Ducks play the Winnipeg Jets in the third game of the season. This intense rivalry will be remembered by all of us for 79 more games as it drives our motivations to the postseason on the sharp edge of a yeeeaaah, whatever. This game is Teemu Selanne’s only regular season visit back to the Peg in his last year in the league. Hopefully he torches them after sitting out against the Wild.
Keys to the Game: The Ducks need to win this game – that’s really the key here. The Jets just bounced the Kings after an opening night win against the Oilers, so they are already better off in the standings. We want our team to get points, maybe even in regulation this time!
The biggest key to this game will be our thin defense pulling together and playing well as a unit. Perfection is impossible. But stronger systemic play is necessary. There were points in the game against the Minnesota Wild when the defense looked like it forgot how to pass pucks. If we’re already hard-pressed for solid defending against opposing forwards, it will be a very long year indeed if they can’t even relieve pressure once they do gain the puck.
Our mobile guys have to start using their heads when it comes to chasing or pinching so as not to leave opposing players unmarked or open for odd man rushes the other way. The team has some pylons back there in Mark Fistric and Bryan Allen, so the D pairings need to work together to prevent them from being unduly exposed.
The secondary key to this game is the big offensive guns – Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Selanne – putting some points up. Our club’s secondary scoring – Jakob Silfverberg and Mathieu Perreault of note! – has already begun producing. Going back to the end of last season and the postseason series against Detroit, the best players on the team haven’t been our best players.
What Can We Learn From this Game: This is the third game of the season. Players should begin meshing better now, learning each other’s traits and tendencies on the ice. Our forward lines should be putting together better stretches of offensive pressure.
But ultimately I’m going back on defense for this. With two players, Sheldon Souray and Luca Sbisa, out on an already thin defense, we need to start seeing better team play now. Occasional mistakes will happen. This isn’t that. We need to see smarter decisions from the younger guys in support of the older guys who might also possibly be zombies (someone should check). [Ed. Note: Bryan Allen should eat a few brains. It might help him make smarter decisions. - Kyle]
I will say this: I believe this defense can surprise people. They won’t be the best in the league by any stretch, but I think they can end up being, at the very least, respectable. That starts with strong systems play – guys communicating well, covering each other, supporting each other when springing the puck, and not passing backward. This team has the goaltending to cover mistakes, and the forward depth to provide offense most nights is also there. These guys just have to play a simple but effective game.
Fearless Prediction: Corey Perry is going to squirt his squeezy bottle at Dustin Byfuglien, causing a brawl. Fowler tries to wrap someone up but trips and sends himself into the net with nobody around him. Selanne, Koivu, and Jokinen have a very sophisticated chat about spas. Getzlaf fights Andrew Ladd. The last one will probably happen though, so really I’m hedging bets here.
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