The game started just like the last against the Blue Jackets. After a turnover at the defensive blue line, Anaheim’s forwards were trapped away from the crease. Gibson made a great save, but no one was able to clear the puck away from Boone Jenner. The first goal came only a minute and twenty-three seconds into the period.
Things did not get any better. Brandon Saad scored on a one timer in the middle of the slot. Every Anaheim skater collapsed to the goal crease for some reason (possible Carlyle system?) which left Saad wide open open. There was no way to fault Gibson for either of the first two goals against.
It took an entire six minutes for the Ducks to get their first shot on net. The top line was the only group of forwards capable of any zone time early on.
Also, it’s great to see Lindholm and Rakell on the same PP unit. Both players inject some creativity to the power play. But if Bieksa and Vermette are going to be on the ice at the same time then it’s going to negate any advantage the Ducks have.
The Blue Jackets received an early power play after another slashing call against Garbutt. Carlyle must not have been happy with the wingers play, which led to Garbutt only seeing 3:39 minutes of ice time all game. Luckily there weren’t many dangerous scoring chances against Gibson.
Later in the period Stoner may have had his best offensive shift ever as a Duck. The veteran defensemen made a few good decisions and had some amazing sauce to Vatanen along the blue line. It was about a two-foot pass that sat directly on his defense partner’s stick tape.
It’s clear that Ducks’ power play runs through Ryan Getzlaf and rightfully so. He has a knack for patrolling the half-wall and knowing exactly where the weak spot is on the ice. Even though the power play did not crack through tonight, the first unit had multiple chances.
What would the offense be without Rakell? The Swedish forward scored Anaheim’s first goal of the game off of a great tip on a Cam Fowler shot. In a Carlyle system that seems to hope for garbage goals around the net, Rakell provides a breathe of fresh air. He is one of the few forwards that can create offense with creativity.
The new Ritchie-Vermette-Cramarossa line looks like a keeper. In their first shift, Bobrovsky coughed up a puck behind the goal leading to a gift tally. The best part of this line is that Cramarossa has been given the opportunity to be the main puck handler of the trio. Then Ritchie can go behind the goal and Vermette can do what he does best, which is float in the offensive zone and wait for a pass. If Carlyle can keep these top three lines together, the Ducks and the bottom six could finally start to build some chemistry. AND Rakell would get more ice time. That’s the best thing possible for this team.
It was surprising to see both Tortorella and Carlyle teams playing with such speed. The period was wide open and was by far the most exciting action of the night. On a side note, Zach Werenski is going to be an amazing defenseman in the National Hockey League (I sadly wrote this before overtime). The 19-year-old kid has all the tools to be a top pairing defenseman.
The Ducks looked better than usual in the overtime period but it wasn’t enough. I’m not sure what Gibson was thinking when he failed to pickup Werenski’s shot. By the time he knew where the puck was he wasn’t in position to stop the puck.
The Blue Jackets have now won both games against the Ducks this season. The Ducks will look to rebound tomorrow night in Carolina at 4pm Pacific against the Hurricanes.