The Ducks are coming off one of their worst games of the season Wednesday night against Dallas, but still have a chance to become the number one seed in the Western Conference playoffs in a number of ways, which we'll get into in just a little bit. The Coyotes, on the other hand, have lost five of their last six games and have nothing to play for but jobs and pride as they are locked into the 29th overall position in the league standings and a 13.5% chance at winning the draft lottery.
After having sat out the last two games, to rest "bumps and bruises" according to Coach Bruce Boudreau (via Lance Pugmire, LA Tiimes) Ryan Getzlaf will be back in the lineup for Anaheim. With nine days off between games, and even getting a break from practice as recently as Thursday, Getzlaf should be well rested. Then again, that didn't work out all that well for the rest of the team against the Stars. I fully expected him to play against Dallas, but this time both Getzlaf and Boudreau have stated that he'll be back so it's a safer bet.
The lines from yesterday's practice, before the team boarded their flight to Arizona, looked a little something like this:
Ducks morning lines: Sekac-Getzlaf-Perry, Beleskey-Kesler-Silfverberg, Cogliano-Rakell-Palmieri, Jackman-Thompson-Maroon.— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) April 10, 2015
No word on the goaltending yet, but don't be surprised to see John Gibson get one last start before the playoffs. If so, don't take it as a criticism of Frederik Andersen's game on Wednesday, since Boudreau lauded his performance after the game, saying "It could have been worse if Freddie wasn't so good" per Eric Stephens of the OC Register.
As for the Coyotes, Shane Doan is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury that kept him out of their last game, a 5-0 loss Thursday night in Vancouver. Also Lauri Korpikoski is day-to-day and hasn't played since taking a high stick to the mouth on March 24.
What we can learn from this game:
Finally in game 82, we WILL find out where the Ducks will finish in the standings and who they'll play in the first round. After the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets clinched their spots on Thursday, at the expense of the Kings (yay!), Ducks' radio color commentator Dan Wood phrased the scenarios most succinctly on twitter:
To finish first in the West, #NHLDucks at AZ Saturday night must match or better whatever STL does earlier in the day against visiting MIN.— Dan Wood (@Duckscolorman) April 10, 2015
That's true, but let's get a little more detailed. First of all, if the Ducks win in regulation or overtime they clinch the first seed and a date with Winnipeg in Round 1, regardless of any other results.
They could also clinch first in the West outright before even stepping on the ice in Arizona if the Minnesota Wild beat St. Louis in regulation (noon PT, NBC proper in some markets, NBC Sports Live Extra online, where available). Also if both the Ducks and Blues earn a single point in their respective games, the Ducks would finish first on Regulation/Overtime Wins (42 to 41).
The Ducks would finish second and face the Wild with a loss of any kind and a St Louis win of any kind, OR a Ducks shootout win coupled with a Blues regulation/overtime win. In the latter case St. Louis would win out on goal differential (currently +45 for the Blues and +9 for the Ducks).
In the Times article linked above, Getzlaf says the right thing in terms of their first round opponent. "No matter who we play, it's a big, hard test ... physical games," he said. "We've just got to be ready to play." HOWEVER, in reality there is a clear worst case scenario.
If the Ducks lose in regulation, AND Minnesota beats St. Louis in overtime or a shootout, AND Chicago loses to Colorado in regulation (6pm PT, WGN in Chicago, Altitude in Denver, TVA2 in Canada), the Ducks would finish second and play the Blackhawks as the first wild card. And all that celebrating over avoiding the Kings would be for naught.
None. I'm scared shitless about that last scenario, even though it's Arizona.