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Panthers @ Ducks Preview: Win in Regulation, Please

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The Anaheim Ducks will welcome the Florida Panthers for a second game on a back-to back weekend back at home.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

I am currently reeling from our OT loss to our formidable rival across the freeway. Really...another gawd-damn overtime loss.

Well buck up Ducks because you boys are heading back home to gear up for the second of a weekend back-to back games, but this time at home. So get your sh** together and prepare to finally win a game in regulation. Jeez.

Florida Panthers aren't all too hot. The Panthers hold a 5-4-5 record, only being trailed in the Atlantic Division by the ever-so-terrible Buffalo Sabres.

Game notes:

Late this week, we learned that winger Dany Heatley (yeah, remember he's actually on our team?) was back out, listed with the ever-lingering groin injury. He joins Ben Lovejoy, John Gibson and Mark Fistric on the growing injury list.

Since the Ducks players, coaches as well as the front office have supposedly taken their MMR shots, that should hopefully rid the mumps virus from the Honda Center forever. Despite opting out of playing in LA, Corey Perry is on the homestretch, skating on his own. Someone feed the boy some veggies and meat so that he can regain his strength! Francois Beauchemin is reportedly back at home after receiving fluids in the hospital, so it's only a matter of time until we see our veteran defenseman back on the ice.

Most recently, we learned early Saturday, before the matinee puck drop, that Devante Smith-Pelly was out against LA. *cue additional wails of despair* When will it all end?

Florida is nursing a few injuries as well. On that list is Dmitry Kulikov with a knee injury, Sean Bergenheim with a lower body injury, Brandon Pirri out with a concussion, and Dave Bolland with a lower body injury.

What Can We Learn From This Game?

The Florida Panthers are not a very good team right now. But in saying that, the team does have the ability to steal a couple games, most recently from the San Jose Sharks this past week. But we know that besides the few spots of brilliance found in Jussi Jokinen, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and occasionally the twitter-happy Roberto Luongo, the Panthers are far from a good team.

Now let's talk about the Ducks.

After a brilliant shootout win against LA at home, the Ducks were unable to finish off the same foe in overtime at the Staples Center. Understandably, the Lovejoy-Beauchemin-Fistric-less-Norfolk-Admirals-call-up defensecorps has struggled to shut down the opposing offense. It also hasn't helped that the goaltending have allowed more than enough soft goals. As a result, though the Ducks have managed to record at least one point in the past seven games, with the exception of the game against LA at home, the Ducks have struggled to finish games in extra time. While some may blame the number of injuries taking a toll on the team's production, the simple matter of the fact is that the Ducks have simply been unable to finish.

The defense in particular needs to tighten up. What worked in the game against LA at home? The Ducks saw great success when the blue line was able to maintain puck possession within their offensive zone, and quickly move the puck out of their own defensive zone. Stupid mistakes in the defensive zone by CERTAIN defensive players (*coughAllencough*) have cost the Ducks the extra point in the past few games.

On the bright side, in light of Perry's absence, several Ducks risen to the call to shine. Ryan Kesler has found his stride. With his sixth goal of the season against the Kings, he is now riding a six-game point streak. Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly are beginning to get comfortable alongside veteran leader Ryan Getzlaf. And even without his partner in crime, Ryan Getzlaf (when he wants to), will simply take over and dominate the puck.

The Panthers have been an inconsistent, offensively challenged team. This being said, they have found success by shutting down their opposition by playing sound defense. The Ducks can do themselves a favor by putting those points up early on in the game--most likely the Panthers will struggle to catch up. There are not too many Panthers to watch out for on the offensive front, but ex-Penguin, Jussi Jokinen is an exception. He has been one few players to produce.  The defense will have to watch for the left winger with good hands.

With Corey Perry nearing return, expect Emerson Etem, DSP (if he returns from his injury), and Patrick Maroon to come out strong with something to prove. The left wing of the Getzlaf-Perry line is still not set in stone. Additionally, we will most likely get the pleasure of seeing the ever-so-entertaining Roberto Luongo back in net on Honda Center ice. We all know that he is his very worst enemy. But there are a few ways to get him rattled. The Ducks find the most success when they create traffic and havoc in front of opposing crease. Get Luongo moving and exploit the ensuing open area. He also tends to have problems covering the areas of his high shoulder. Time to get that wrister hot and ready Silfver and Cogs!

Fearless Prediction:

We see five more extra minutes of hockey at the Honda Center for the SIXTH game in a row.