Thanks to a stellar performance by American Hero-Ducks Goaltender John Gibson, the Ducks were able to pull of a win, snap a losing streak, and thereby retake the lead of the Western Conference as well as the lead for the President's Trophy. However Sunday's games, including a Nashville win over LA, have dropped the Ducks back into fourth place overall in the league.
The Ducks were finally able to snap the losing mini losing slump Friday night against the Minnesota Wild. Matt Beleskey finally made it back on the ice after sitting out injured since February 15th. It looks like we are on the verge of finally having our full line-up back in action. It is reported that Tim Jackman is hoping to resume skating next week, while leading defenseman Sami Vatanen is said to be close to returning.
In my opinion, it's been the second and third lines that have been looking pretty snazzy. Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler in particular have been finding real chemistry on the forecheck. The line that is somewhat of a concern is that first line of Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf-Kyle Palmieri. Sure, Getz scored two goals in the game in which we eventually collapsed against the Calgary Flames. But on the whole, sure-shooters like Corey Perry and Kyle Palmieri have been relatively quiet on the forefront. You know what this means don't you? Expect the ol' Bruce Boudreau Carousel-of-Rotating-First-Line-Left-Wingers. Beleskey got a run out on Friday, who's next? Maroon? Sekac? If Palmieri doesn't starting producing soon, who knows who Bruce will slot into that left wing.
Expect to see Mr. Andersen back in action in net since he has been pretty successful against the Predators all season long.
On the other side, with the exception of Eric Nystrom (out until early April, lower body) and most recently James Neal (day-to-day, upper body), the Nashville Predators are healthy and itching for a win. Like the Ducks, they have rotating in and out of mini slumps recentsy. This California roadie is proving to be an important indicator of the status of their play as they face off against the Pacific Division foes that could very well meet in the post-season. They snapped their losing skid with a must-have win in Arizona, only to be shut-out 2-0 by the San Jose Sharks Thursday night. But now they will be coming off a Saturday night nailbiting victory against the Los Angeles Kings.
The goaltender who all earlier projected to be a Vezina finalist at the start of the season, has hit a couple bumps and slumps recently. Pekka Rinne has been struggling a bit, but he seemed to stick with it Saturday night as he clinched his 200th win against the Los Angeles Kings. As we all well know, the Nashville Predators are no joke. They boast a solid offense led by Mike Ribeiro, and young-gun Filip Forsberg; while they are backed up with a enviable defensecorps made up of Roman Josi and Seth Jones,and of course, Shea Weber.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
It is mid-March and the race to the playoffs is only tightening up. Per the usual, we see teams like the Los Angeles Kings heating up. And then we see teams that had been leading the league all season long start to flounder and hit mini slumps. The latter is a pattern the Anaheim Ducks have seen all too often in the past couple seasons. Rather than resorting to lazy plays of the dump-and-chase variation, the Ducks should be working on tightening up and practicing a more disciplined game.
I'm beginning to see a common theme around the AC community regarding the Ducks' dump-and-chase system. I personally find is incredibly annoying and am of the opinion that the Ducks are far better off as a team skating the puck in. The Western Conference is full of teams that are too defensively sound to resort to the dump-and-chase game. This all being said, I'd like the Ducks to play the puck better entering the offensive zone. A game against post-season caliber team like Nashville should be just what the Ducks need as they come back home and head into the last month of the regular season.