The Ducks began their five game roadie in a bout for first place in Nashville last Thursday. After thoroughly dominating and dismantling the Predators, the Ducks left directly to Washington for a back-to-back Friday game against Ovechkin and the Capitals. With Ilya Bryzgalov (of all players) really backstopping the Ducks, the team managed to make it through three periods + overtime.
Unfortunately, the Ducks only came out with one point in the shootout.
The Ducks have been pretty unlucky with injuries this past season- mumps and injuries hitting most of the players at some point and keeping them out for lengthy periods of time. Just when you finally breathe a sigh of relief with the return of defenseman Eric Brewer, you get a Ducks breaking news notification on your phone stating that Ryan Getzlaf was out with a lower body injury.
The Ducks captain, the same captain who basically heaved the entire team on his shoulders during the Corey Perry-less month of December, is listed as a game-time decision.
Anaheim did call up William Karlsson from Norfolk (remember 'Wild Bill'?) but he had minimal impact Friday.
The Ducks will be facing quite a roster full of offensive stars. A roster made up of Tyler Johnson, Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman, and Ryan Callahan has them sitting fifth in the league. Still, as dynamic as the offensive forwards are, the blue line has been suffering of late. Injuries of defenseman of Radko Gudas, Matt Carle, and most recently Jason Garrison, the Lightning have been forced to pull from the younger ranks.
What Can We Learn From This Game?:
This is the first of a two part series that the teams will meet this season, the second being back at home ten days later. It's been rough at Amalie Arena for the Ducks as they have not been able to grab a point there in the past two years.
Both teams will be coming off a loss, but the Ducks hold the slight advantage since the Lightning are playing in a back-to-back after being defeated by the Los Angeles Kings.
The old sports cliche of "Defense wins games" will surely be the story of this match up. Due to injuries to the Lightning's regular defensemen, they have had to rely on their younger blue liners to step up in games. While the Lightning have had no problem scoring goals, the noticeable holes in the back end have caused them to suffer.
The Ducks find themselves in a similar predicament as of late. While the forwards are finally catching some fire, the defense are struggling to clear pucks and backcheck. The last game against Washington was a perfect example-the inability to win battles and clear the puck out of the zone (even as it laid on the blue line) led directly to a Washington goal. If the Ducks continue to play sloppily in the back end, especially against a team like the Lightning, they are going to find themselves down multiple goals before they can even get their legs under them.
Third time's the charm. The Ducks manage to finally take the two points in Tampa Bay.