The Anaheim Ducks pulled off their 5th comeback win of the season after falling behind by two goals Friday night against the Los Angeles Kings. Overall, the Ducks held their own and played one of the more complete games recently. Despite falling behind two goals, the Ducks did now allow themselves to lay back and get stifled by one of the league's top defensive teams. The Ducks were able to break through LA's shutdown defense and bring about FOUR unanswered goals...ALL in the 3rd period.
Furthermore, the Honda Center was not thoroughly run down by LA fans. In fact, after Emerson Etem's tally, the "Beat LA" chants were quite thunderous.
Well done Ducks fans.
The Anaheim Ducks have been very active as of late. Sure, the Ducks have earned themselves a cushion within the Pacific Division standings in the first half of the season, but with the NHL trade deadline just around the corner, and the Ducks showing some noticeable deficiencies, it is no wonder that GM Bob Murray is planning and making some moves.
We saw the return of young John Gibson after waiving forever goodbye to Ilya Bryzgalov. Additionally, Frederik Andersen was activated from injury reserve and backed up Gibson against LA.
Earlier this past week, the Ducks acquired young and skilled LW Jiri Sekac from Montreal. They made another yesterday by acquiring LW Tomas Fleischmann from the Florida Panthers for Dany Heatley and a 2015 3rd round draft pick.
Now can we please get some defensive support Murray?
As for Ducks injuries....Nate Thompson is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury and it looks like Chris Wagner will be slotting into his position in Dallas. Matt Beleskey is still out but has resumed skating. He should be back soon, pending that he is not one of the pieces Bob moves. Defenseman Sami Vatanen will probably be out until April, returning to play in a few games right before playoffs.
The Dallas Stars have also had some injuries to key players. The loss of league leading forward Tyler Seguin was quite a blow to the Stars. He tore his MCL, but has begun to rehab and work out. Travis Moen, Valeri Nichushkin, and Patrick Eaves are still on IR.
Dallas Head Coach Lindy Ruff came out after the shootout loss to Colorado very critical of goaltender Kari Lehtonen . He has basically attributed the loss wholly to Lehtonen, quoting: "I know this is hard, but goaltending performance doesn't match the effort of the team. You need goaltending. It's as simple as that. There's nights that he has to steal games, there's nights where he has to outperform the other guy. Our goaltending has been tough on our team, and I think that's where the frustration is."
Ouch. Well, their back-up option isn't any better. Newly acquired Jhonas Enroth has not seen a win in four starts.
What Can We Learn From This Game?:
Despite the flurry of moves by the Ducks, so far, the biggest problem with the Ducks has yet to be addressed. DEFENSE.
The Ducks did a decent job defensively against LA on Friday. But the chances that LA found were very well a result of slow and sloppy defensive lapses. I will say, I think we can all agree that Ben Lovejoy > Eric Brewer, yes?
All eyes will be on the blue line in this last game before the NHL trade deadline.
The last game we played against the Dallas Stars (not to mentiona all the other times we previously faced against this team), was a complete parade of penalties. Something about the Dallas Stars, more than LA and more than any other team, that just simply pushes the Ducks' buttons. Both teams can play fast, but also hit and grind. And it's usually the latter on which both teams will get caught. But the key to beating a team like Dallas, is to not so much focus on out-hitting them, but to outskate them. The Ducks ALWAYS get caught up in their high emotions, which lends to stupid and undisciplined penalties. While I will say that the physical game against the LA Kings was refreshing to see and a key to the comeback, it will not be the case against Dallas. The Ducks need to focus on their game and not get sucked up in the gritty emotions that tend to emerge when these two teams clash.
One last thing to watch in this game is Bruce's coaching. All who watched noticed the fact that the lines did not shuffle, reshuffle and shuffle again between players. Bruce set lines 1-4 and they stayed fairly consistent through the entire night. As a result, we saw chemistry between the kids, the Etem-Rakell-Cakes (Sekac) [Ed. Note: I've been told by Kid Ish in no uncertain terms to refer to them as 'Ricky Etem Cakes" -EE] line. I am personally really hoping Bruce decides to keep his lines intact rather than jumping the gun and trying to spark instant chemistry. We have run into this problem for the past couple years in the post-season. This time, it's a bit more premature and in the regular season. Bruce has got to allow these guys some time to figure our their teammates and lines.
Leave it to Dallas resident ass-hole Ryan Garbuttcrack to try to pull of some unfounded and dirty play for the third or fourth time this season. He's been caught slewfooting and kneeing. Maybe spearing this time? Can Francois Beauchemin or Ryan Getzlaf just flatten him through the boards?