Building momentum is something the Ducks have struggled with this season. The win on Friday versus Vancouver was stressful to say the least, but alas we'll take Randy Carlyle's stance on the issue by saying, "You don't criticize as win". The fact that the Ducks won the game should be a great confidence booster for a team that's struggled to find its identity. They scored four goals and the power play found the back of the net twice thanks to a five minute major penalty.
It's small stepping stones like this that can go a long way to building a team's confidence. Sure, the loss of Lubomir Visnovsky for four weeks to an injury is going to sting, but really, Lubo hasn't contributed as much offensively as he had a season ago. Likely Lubo replacement Kurtis Foster will have to re-earn whatever trust Carlyle doesn't seem to have in him. Scoring on the power play and not taking dumb penalties will help. As usual, the Ducks will need to continue to find scoring from sources other than just the Big 4. Friday was a start with goals by Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano, and Peter Holland.
The Ducks have been lucky at home as of late because the Scheduling Gods are sending teams to Anaheim the night after playing the Kings. Last night, the Wild were smoked by the Kings 5-2, putting the Wild on a two game losing streak. The last time these teams met, the Ducks secured their only regulation win (3-2) on the roadtrip that wouldn't end. At that time, Minnesota was struggling to get their revamped offense rolling. Now Minnesota sits four points above the Ducks in the west.
Never underestimate this team. Former Mighty Duck (and guy I asked to my senior prom - true story) Matt Cullen leads the team with 6 goals followed by mock-turtleneck wearing Dany Heatley with 5. The surprising stat so far is that our Koivu (my personal favorite) has more goals with 2 than their (Mikko) Koivu with 1. If the boys can play better in front of Jonas Hiller, he'll be able to protect them from the potential offensive breakout by the Wild.
It's all about baby-steps tonight. Build on the positive, feed off the crowd, and continue to develop the power play. Oh, and Mikko Koivu better hold on to his stick this time around.