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The last game against the Flames (which really looked like a mediocre AHL team by it's roster) was just beyond horrible. The Ducks had nothing--nothing offensively...
and nothing in the net.
Anaheim Ducks players, coaches, and fans were left saying....
The Ducks were thoroughly humiliated.The inexplicable 7-2 rout was clearly the lowest of the lows for the once high and mighty league-leading Ducks. Since that game, the Ducks have worked hard to bounce back, but have yet to find the winning consistency.
Keys to the Game: Hopes of making the playoffs have been dashed for the fifth straight year, so the Flames have nothing to lose...and they sure are playing like it. They are coming off a SO win over the San Jose Sharks, and are playing some of their most competitive hockey this season.
But the Ducks learned their lesson after the debacle in Calgary. And they have crucial points to win.
So this time, the key is just to DO EVERYTHING OPPOSITE of the last time the two teams matched up....That means play offense, play defense, and come up with some solid goaltending. Play the full 60 minutes. Keep Mark Giordano and Mike Cammalleri on the fringes. Test the Calgary goaltenders by putting up shots and setting up screens. And skate rather than watch on defense.
Fortunately, after hitting rock bottom, the Ducks have looked alive and have worked to compete against every team thereafter. Good thing too as this is the final stretch in which the Ducks need to start forming and reinforcing the good habits before playoffs. One cause for concern is the defense's discretion in taking pinches. The Ducks' aggressive approach has often led to dangerous odd man rushes by the opposing team. It may not be so much of a problem against lesser teams, but come playoff time, these are not opportunities that the Ducks can afford to give up to their opponents. (See the last game against San Jose.)
With the exception of one unfortunate and untimely bench change, the Ducks took care not to take any unnecessary penalties against the Panthers. Seeing as it was the first game in the past eight that the Ducks did not allow a PPG, that was a smart and deliberate way to go about playing. Moral of the story--STAY DISCIPLINED. If and when the Ducks do receive the man-advantage, play like you have the man-advantage. The Ducks allowed TWO shorthanded goals in the last meeting. One is embarrassing enough, but two is just flat-out unacceptable. Fortunately, in the past two games, the power play looked refocused and reinvigorated, and resulted in two power play goals.
Instead of wasting two minutes with aimless passing, the Ducks have done more purposeful and direct passing that leading to shots on goal with traffic in front. Anaheim Ducks--let's keep that up.
What Can We Learn From this Game: The Ducks are entering the "easy" home stretch of the season. Best to get as many points under their belts before hitting the San Jose, LA, and Colorado at the very end. Despite the "easy" teams scheduled ahead, the Ducks best not sit on their butts and expect to win for fear of another humiliating loss of a bottom NHL team. The victory against Florida sets the Ducks up perfectly to gain momentum heading into the remaining stretch of the season.
And again, as awesome as a first-round match-up against our crosstown hated rivals would be, no team wants to face the LA Kings in the postseason. Right now, though the Sharks are ahead by one point, the Ducks have three games in hand, and have a chance to overtake their NorCal rivals with extreme discipline and some amount of luck. The hockey gods have decided grant the latter as the Sharks are 1-0-2 in since beating the Ducks last week in San Jose. If the Ducks want to avoid seeing LA in the first round, they cannot afford to squander a point here and there.
Fearless Prediction: Ducks bring it to Calgary and treat themselves of a 7 goal victory.
Stay tuned here for updates throughout the day (lineup news, etc.) and start commenting. We'll have a quick stats pack shortly before puck drop for the in-game comments to flow.