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PREVIEW: Ducks vs Blues (1/8/16) - Out Of Place Again

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Anaheim's hill becomes larger, as all six of remaining home stand opponents are in thick of playoff picture.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Game #40 - Home Game #21

Anaheim Ducks
vs St. Louis Blues

Friday, January 8, 2015 7:00 PM PST

Honda Center

TV: Prime Ticket, FS-San Diego
Radio: AM 830, AnaheimDucks.com

Your Enemy: St. Louis Game Time

Complete Coverage >


Wednesday's game left the Anaheim Ducks one to sing the blues, but with St. Louis in town it'd better be a short song. The Ducks remain two points out of the final Pacific playoff spot, with two games in hand on current third table occupant Vancouver. They welcome a St. Louis team that's been struggling of late, but is still one of five teams remaining on the home stand that currently occupy a playoff spot.

Last Games:

Ducks: Wednesday, January 6 vs Toronto (0-4 L) "Ducks Blanked 4-0 By Bernier, Toronto To Snap Point Streak"

Blues: Wednesday, January 6 vs Colorado (3-4 OL) "Blues vs Avs - The Definition Of Insanity..."

Notes:

Ducks

Stop if you've heard this one before, but the Ducks are looking to find ways to put the puck in the net after being shut out for the eighth time this season. The ballad of the lowest scoring offense in the league continues, as after posting a four goal outing for only the third time since November 31 in the Sunday win over Winnipeg, the Ducks were held to a goal or less for the 19th time this season. 14 of those games were in the 27 games against teams with better than .500 records (15 in 28 if you include Toronto, who were an even .500 when the teams played), where the Ducks have averaged .17 fewer goals per game than their league-low of 1.87 per overall.

Speaking of Anaheim's performance against teams with above .500 records, the Ducks have managed a 10-13-4 record despite their scoring troubles. Still, the biggest issue is the defense has not been as air-tight as their inability to consistently put the puck in the net have forced them to be against those teams. Against teams with better than .500 records, Anaheim is averaging 2.59 goals against per game versus just 1.83 allowed in the 12 games against the clubs with .500 or below marks. A lot of this is rather obvious; a squad with a struggling offense is going to struggle even more so against better teams, but to see the gulf of .76 goals allowed per game, while the team is averaging .22 scores fewer than against sub-.500 sides rather brutally spells out the need for more offense. The Ducks are still waiting for someone to start converting regularly on their solid possession and chance analytic metrics.

Blues

Despite sitting third place in the Central with 52 points from 43 games, not all is well in St. Louis with Minnesota just two points back with three games in hand, and the Blues just one point clear of final wild card Nashville. They haven't won a game in regulation since December 22, with just two extra session wins in their last seven games and having dropped their last two in OT. After having suffered four straight losses in which they lead going in to the third, their most recent game against Colorado was particularly rough, coughing up a 3-1 lead they held early in the second. Per the St. Louis Game Time recap, the Blues have been outscored 7-0 during the third period of those last four games.

Still, this is a St. Louis side with All Star scoring threat Vladimir Tarasenko with his team leading 24 goals, and Paul Stastny riding a five-game assist streak. Kevin Shattenkirk has been both a power play scoring threat from the point, and a solid offensive facilitator as well with points in three of his last five games, and point streaks of eight and six games this season. In goal Jake Allen is a perfect 3-0-0 in his career against the Ducks with a .973 save percentage and a shutout, and before taking the loss in Colorado he'd posted better than .900 save percentages in his previous five starts. Another angle to keep in mind, while it may not quite be the dominance like against Calgary, St. Louis has lost their last nine trips to Honda Center, winless in the building since October of 2009.

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Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.