The Anaheim Ducks are looking to wrap up their 4-game roadie in Tampa Bay with a win against the Stanley Cup Final runner-up. They did suffer a 2-game sweep last year, but this is a brand new season and it does appear that the Anaheim Ducks are waking up and returning back to form. Sure, it's taken around 20 games for them to find their feet and build back up their confidence, but thank goodness the season is long. The Anaheim Ducks are slowly inching back into the mix as they find themselves 6-2-2 in the past 10 games.
Ducks: Thursday, 11/19 vs Florida Panthers. "Depth Scoring Fuels Ducks 3-1 Victory against Florida."
Ah--finally, are these the Anaheim Ducks that we have been longing to see since last year's exist out of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs? I think it might be. A couple good things we saw from the last game against the Florida Panthers...
1) The long-awaited shortie by Andrew Cogliano...I think everyone can agree that this guy never fails to work his ass off. The Ducks can be trailing by 5 goals and he will still be busting his butt chasing down the puck. He's usually the go-to guy that we expect a shortie from. So kudos to him as well as Horcoff for making that happen.
2) After being pulled after in Nashville, Freddie came back and answered all questions by making 23 saves. Ready, steady, Freddie.
3) The surge of solid offense that we have been waiting to see since the season started. The Ducks completely dominated the Panthers, outshooting them 33-14 through the first two periods. It's comforting to see that the Ducks are capable of actually playing hockey in the 2nd. The Ducks set a season high in SOG Thursday night with 41.
Our fearless leader Ryan Getzlaf has returned. Despite only notching 1 point in the past 3 games, Corey Perry leads the team with 5 goals and 12 points. And Freddie Andersen looks as solid as ever. The offense has obviously taken it up a level in the past two games, as evidenced by the shots on goal and depth scoring. The Ducks will be going into Tampa Bay with momentum and confidence.
That being said, the Lightning remain an extremely dangerous team. Like the Ducks, the Lightning are coming off a big win against the Rangers, who had up Thursday night been boasting a 9-game winning streak. The Lightning's quick and fierce style of play has not changed since the last match up. With injuries lingering, we can expect the AHL call-ups to fill in. While the so-called "Tampacuse" has looked relatively solid, the Ducks have a chance to bring their style of game into Amelie Arena and force these younger AHL players into making mistakes by hitting hard, playing gritty, and winning those board battles. Take advantage of the fact that up to 4 top forwards will not be drawing into the line-up. Furthermore, the Ducks can look to capitalize on special teams as the Lightning's powerplay currently stands in the bottom half of the league at 17.2% while the Ducks' penalty kill stands on top with a 90.3%. Additionally, the Ducks have scored a PPG in 4 of the last 5 games in which they had a powerplay opportunity.
The Tampa Bay Lightning must know how the Anaheim Ducks are feeling....Like the Anaheim Ducks, the Lightning entered the new season with high expectations of being a shoo-in contender for the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, like the Ducks, the Lightning have had a slow start, leading to speculation of playoff hungover, etc. As of late, the Lightning look as though they have found their offense and goal-scoring touch, but the main problem of inconsistency remains. It really doesn't help that the injury bug has run amok through the Tampa Bay Lightning forward corps, taking out 4 of their top 6.
Ryan Callahan who has been out with a lower-body injury did practice on Friday and may return against Anaheim. But Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Cedric Paquette still remain questionable and will most likely not play. LW Ondrej Palat will be out for several more weeks and is confirmed out. With many of the Lightning regulars out, the Ducks will likely be facing a few Syracuse Crunch players who were called up to fill the void. Steven Stamkos is always dangerous and leads the team with 9 goals and 14 points. With so many injured, Valtteri Filppula has noticeably stepped up their game, scoring the game-winning shorthanded goal, and providing an assist in his first multi-point game of the season.
But like I said before, you can never discount the Tampa Bay Lightning, because this is just a good team. Solid defense, great goaltending from Ben Bishop, and an offense highly capable of scoring lots of goals. The Anaheim Ducks will end the roadtrip by facing the most challenging opponent this trip.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds. A new roadtrip with a new WINNING streak please.