As Ducks fans, we like to complain about East Coast Bias. And how the national hockey media doesn't give us enough respect. That is all true, but at least we're not Columbus. We all know the story, but let's recap: in the franchise's 13 year history, they've only made the playoffs once. Steve Mason, their starting goalie, won the Calder Trophy in 2009, and has been on a downward trajectory ever since.
Later, the Blue Jackets traded Jake Voracek and the draft pick that would become Sean Couturier - in addition to another third-round draft pick - for Jeff Carter. Seven months later, Carter was an LA King. And to put the cherry on the sundae, Rick Nash - their franchise player - demanded a trade. he was eventually sent to the Rangers, but then-GM Scott Howson was forced to add a defenseman and a third round pick to sweeten the deal. I know we like to complain about our management in Anaheim, but I have a hard time believing that even Bob Murray would make such a boneheaded move.
Howson has been fired, but things still look grim for Columbus. They have a 4-9-2 record, and a league-lowest 10 points. Brandon Dubinsky, acquired in the Nash trade will not play due to a knee injury and Artem Anisimov (also part of the Nash deal) will be in, after missing a game with a bad foot.. Former Duck James Wisniewski also appears to be making a return to the lineup after missing two games for the birth of his first child. Columbus also tends to be penalized heavily, but they're playing us. So that probably won't be a factor tonight.
But this game has "trap" written all over it. Chris and I discussed this in the podcast, but Columbus is a team with nothing to lose. Their season is essentially over, and they are on the road. Worst case scenario: the Ducks will play down to the level of their competition. Columbus comes out loose and dominates early. A blowout ensues, and we're on the wrong end of it. After the excitement of Chicago (the league's best team) and Detroit, this game is primed to be an inevitable letdown.
How can we prevent this from happening? First, we need to exploit Columbus' weaknesses. Center Mark Letestu is leading the team in goals, and Fedor Tyutin is leading the team in points. In order to prevent the game from getting out of hand early, the Ducks will need to keep these two off the scoreboard.
Tonight will also need to be Corey Perry's coming out party for the 2013 season. [Ed. Note: I think this is the third GameThread in a row to contain that sentence. -CK] He has been good for the Ducks in shootouts, but will need to put points on the board in regulation in order for the Ducks to win. Also - special teams will need to gel. I understand that the problem with our special teams is bigger than the players themselves, but Columbus' PK is better than ours, which is terrifying.
We should win this game, boys and girls. FOWL!