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Ducks Take on Giordano-Less Flames

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The Ducks are in Calgary tonight for the second game in the Ducks' "do we really want to win this" road trip.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Any way you slice it, the Trade Deadline was an interesting day for the Ducks.  Bob Murray did what he could to improve the team, while giving up as little as possible, not to mention shedding a ton of dead weight.  He was lauded as one of the "winners" of the deadline, and rightfully so despite the fact that teams who make a big shakeup at deadline time more often end up like the 2013 Penguins than the 2012 Kings.

But while most Ducks fans were acting like they were in the Lego Movie, singing "Everything is Awesome" (try and get that out of your head for the rest of the day) there was also some bad news for the Ducks' future as the Calgary Flames announced that Mark Giordano would be out for the season due to a torn biceps tendon.  While losing their best player is obviously more detrimental to the Flames, the fact that their already slim playoff chances were dashed also sucks for Anaheim because if/when the Kings make it, the Ducks' playoff road gets a lot more difficult.

In reality, Calgary holding off Los Angeles for one of the few remaining playoff spots up for grabs was a long shot, but that long shot was riding heavily on the Norris Trophy caliber season of Giordano, with respect to T.J. Brodie, Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau.  At the time of his injury, Giordano lead the team in 5v5 possession, total time on ice per game and points.  Essentially he was their best defenseman and their best offensive player.  To put it in Ducks terms, imagine losing Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler in one fell swoop, while trying to stay ahead of the team that won the Stanley Cup in two of the last three years.

Of course this could all be irrelevant.  There was never a guarantee of the Ducks playing Calgary over LA in the playoffs. But the fact is that the odds got much better that the Ducks have the potential to face the two time Cup winners, who eliminated them last year, than a team that hasn't won in Anaheim for a decade.

Game Notes:

Currently the Flames are tied in the standings with the Kings for third in the Pacific, but hold the tiebreaker of two additional Regulation/Overtime Wins.  There is zero margin for error. To their credit though, in the two weeks since Giordano's last game, Calgary has hung in there, going 3-1-1, but good luck keeping that up for another month.

One big reason for Calgary's success post-Giordano is that both Hudler and Gaudreau are riding four game scoring streaks (4-4-8 and 1-3-4, respectively).  Because of that, both of them have also leapfrogged Giordano in the Flames' scoring chart.  Hudler now has 56 points and Johnny Hockey is actually tied with Giordano at 48, but has five more goals.

As for the Ducks, they're still waiting to see when Sami Vatanen and/or Matt Beleskey will be able to return to the lineup.  But in the meantime, James Wisniewski was pretty good in his 2015 debut for the Ducks Monday in Vancouver.  In fact Wiz was the Ducks' leading skater in 5v5 Shot Attempt (Corsi) Differential with a +17.  It wasn't his fault that Clayton Stoner completely deserted his post for the game winner.

In goal, the Flames' website preview says that Kari Ramo will start, making him the third different goalie the Ducks have seen versus Calgary this season.  For the Ducks, Frederik Andersen hasn't been spectacular since coming back from injury, saving only 89.4% of the shots he's faced in three games back, mostly due to two disgustingly terrible goals against Pittsburgh.  Of course Bruce Boudreau hasn't announced anything, and wont, but I would stick with Freddy and let him play himself back into form at this point of the season.

What can we learn from this game:

As I wrote about in Monday's preview, this is one of the Ducks' last chances to impact the playoff race (outside of their own seeding) and this one is probably for the most contentious spot, third in the Pacific.  Again, it would probably benefit the Ducks to actually not win this game, but we'll try not to think like that.  Mostly it's another chance to see what the new guys are bringing to the team and how they'll fit in come playoff time.  I, for one, am still  holding out hope that Stoner will continue to be Stoner (like he did on Monday, not to belabor the point) and Simon Despres will continue to improve enough that Sami can replace Stoner when the Vat-man get's healthy.

Fearless Prediction:

David Schlemko will NOT score another postage stamp worthy goal, shootout or otherwise.