Ducks @ Stars Game 4 Preview: Channeling the Rage

Tom Pennington

Ducks look to channel their rage into winning a crucial Game 4.

What we learned from the previous game: We confirmed that Dallas ice is a hell hole and that clearly some Dallas fans need to stop drinking so early to read the line-up before insisting on chanting "Hiller" throughout the night.

But in all seriousness, Game 3 didn't reveal anything incredibly new and mindblowing about the Dallas Stars. Rather, it reconfirmed what the Anaheim Ducks were already very aware of: 1) the dangerous duo, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, 2) the overall speed of the entire Stars team, and 3) the physical game the Stars like to play. None of these points are new.

We learned more on the Ducks' end. Despite tallying the "W" from Games 1 and 2, the Ducks were largely outplayed in the opening periods and for long stretches of both games. But Game 3 showed great improvement as the Ducks came out fast and strong, dominating puck possession and zone time for the majority of the game. Despite the loss, the Ducks exploited the Stars' shaky blue line, out hustling them to the loose pucks along the boards and in front of Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen.

In Games 1 and 2, the Stars saw most of their scoring opportunities during extended possession and cycling of the puck. But when the Ducks came out in Game 3, the few scoring opportunities by the Stars came off rushes. Game 3 showed that the Stars are extremely dangerous on the rush. Benn in particular needs to be shut down. The Ducks did a good job for the most part clogging the neutral zone and preventing the Stars from too many opportunities to set up in the offensive zone. But the Stars were able to capitalize on the odd-man rushes with their speed and crisp passing.

Excepting the results and Stephane Robidas' injury, the overall play of the Ducks was solid. Unfortunately, the Ducks allowed the brute physicality and the emotions get the better of them. All the talk about keeping disciplined went out the window after the Ducks saw Robidas go down. The Ducks' two monoliths, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were largely rendered ineffective.

Lastly, the power play...ugh. That power play....Passing along the perimeter to look for an opening is great and all, but sooner or later, that puck will be cleared if the PP unit doesn't attack. The Ducks are clearly capable of scoring PPG's as evidenced from Game 1. So what gives? Fortunately, more important than the PP is the PK, in which the Ducks have been successful. The longer this series goes, the more crucial the PK will become, seeing as things are growing increasingly chippy between these two teams.

What needs to change for this game: The Ducks, the Stars, the coaches, and the fans all know that the next game will be a physical one. The Stars have seemingly pinpointed the solution to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry--getting under the Twins' skins through the rough physicality of Trevor Daley, Antoine Roussel, and Ryan Garbutt. The loss of Stephane Robidas clearly took an emotional toll on the entire Anaheim club...but that being said, the Ducks need to refocus that anger, desire for retribution, and whatever other energy into playing the next 60 minutes.

The Ducks should not change much from Game 3 because they clearly dominated the game. They won face-offs, collected the loose pucks, and won battles along the boards and behind the net. The Ducks clearly had chances as they fired 37 SOGs. If anything needs to be changed, it is simply finishing those shots. Lehtonen did indeed make some notable saves, but at the same time, the Ducks had wide open scoring opportunities.

I personally would like to see the Ducks attempt to lift the puck a little more to get passed the butterfly-style goaltending. With that being said, the Ducks need to take advantage of setting up from behind the Stars net by finding more time in front of the Stars' crease. Despite holding the puck, the Ducks were largely kept to the perimeter. Lehtonen gave up some fatty rebounds but the Ducks failed to cash in on those. The Ducks forwards are far superior to the Stars defense, and must therefore exploit that fact and get more of those pucks in to the net. All in all, with regards to the Game 3 shutout, the Ducks need to just "keep it simple" (as they like to say) and shoot to score. The power play goals will be there when the Ducks simply shoot and crash the net.

Lastly the Ducks can be a pretty scary team when they are angry. Channel that anger into scoring those goals.

Roster changes:

As mentioned earlier, Robidas is out for the rest of the post season after re-fracturing his right leg. That means that either Mark Fistric, Luca Sbisa or recently reassigned Sami Vatanen will have his first opportunity to participate in this season's playoffs. Seeing as Vatanen has not been recalled from Norfolk, it leaves either Fistric or Sbisa. It was reported that Fistric was skating alongside Bryan Allen during Tuesday's morning skate.

While Getzlaf did not skate in Tuesday's morning skate, it is safe to assume he will be playing on Wednesday--come on people...it's Ryan Getzlaf. Skating next to Perry was Rickard Rakell and recently recalled fan favorite, Emerson Etem.

There have been suggestions that either Teemu Selanne or Saku Koivu may sit, opening up spots for the younger and speedier Ducks such as Etem and Rakell, but that remains to be seen.

And per Stars beat writer extraordinaire, Mike Heika, Brenden Dillon skated yesterday, for the first time since the end of the season, but is still a long shot to play tonight.

Fearless prediction: Bruce Boudreau finally decides, "Enough of this sh**!" as he throws down clipboards with Lindy Ruff. Each leave the bench for the sin bin after receiving five minutes for fighting.

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