As of late, the offense has been coming in by the plenty. Before Wednesday's game against Buffalo, the Ducks had scored 5+ goals in each of their 5 consecutive wins. So it was somewhat of a nail biter on Wednesday night when the Ducks outgrinded and outplayed the Buffalo Sabres for a 1-0 win. It definitely wasn't the best performance, but it brought back the defensive style of play that first allowed the Ducks to see sparks of success. 5 of Anaheim's 6 shutouts this season were 1-0 scores, and the Ducks have not lost in regulation (21-0-3) when leading after 2 periods.
The Ducks are back at Honda Center Friday night to welcome rookie-sensation Connor McDavid and much less sensational Edmonton Oilers.
Ducks: Wednesday, February 25 vs Buffalo: "Andersen earns first shutout of the season in 1-0 victory over Buffalo"
Oilers: Wednesday, February 25 vs Los Angeles:
Cue all the memes and idioms and witty sayings, because the Mighty Ducks are back.
Flashback to a couple months ago...the Ducks were sitting 29th out of 30th in the league with the lowest goals for average. Every loss led to increasing speculation on how much time Bruce Boudreau had left in behind Anaheim's bench. Those were indeed very dark times.
But that period has since past and we've come up on the other side. The Ducks rebounded from their 12-15-6 start with a vengeance, posting a 20-4-2 streak since the holiday break. And with the exception of the Carl Hagelin trade, the team roster has remained unchanged. During their quest to default to a shutdown defensive style game, the Ducks were able to find chemistry between lines, and eventually find the offense that they misplaced at last post-season's exit.
So here we are...sitting a couple points behind Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Kings. So where do the Ducks go from here? 2016 Trade Deadline is only a couple days away. We have lots of contracts to consider this offseason. We have some great prospects in the system. And we have two excellent goaltenders. Despite the recent success achieved by the team, GM Bob Murray is well known for making waves in the last minute. There seems to always room for improvement, but at what cost?
Though the Ducks will be welcoming a terrible team on the brink of being dismantled, this is still a team that can at times give the Ducks fits with the pure speed of the young mobile forwards. Really, the Anaheim Ducks have to play like they've been playing the past 6 consecutive wins. Create traffic in front of the opposing goaltenders, involve active blueliners at the point, win the battles behind the net and along the boards...etc. The usual. What I have been impressed with though really is the fact that the Ducks are creating havoc in slot and in front of the crease. Sami Vatanen's lone power-play goal on Wednesday is a perfect example of bodies providing perfect screens in front of Lehner. Anaheim has now scored at least 1 PPG in the past 6 games (9 for 20).
All that needs to happen now is for Nick Ritchie to finally score his first career NHL goal.
What. The. Hell.
If that doesn't give you an accurate depiction of the Edmonton Oilers this season, well, then you clearly haven't been paying attention. Here they are again--bottom of the league, with only the draft to look forward to. Or perhaps the Trade Deadline this coming Monday as well? Rumors have it that Edmonton will be one of the Canadian teams that will make large moves on that day. I mean, at this point, with the exception of Connor McDavid, it seems like anyone on the team can find himself with a new address come Monday, including longtime Oilers Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This is a sorely lacking of defense and the new OIlers GM Peter Chiarelli is not afraid to pull the moves to right this ship of a disaster.
It's not going to get any easier for the Oilers as they bide their time in California while waiting for changes stemming from the Trade Deadline. Currently Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Andrew Ference, Oscar Klefbom, and Eric Gryba are all on IR. Coach Todd McClellan is shaking up the lines with the hope that this will spark some success amidst the team's season high 5 loss streak. And per James Mirtle via Twitter, looks like Teddy Purcell already has his bags packed, perhaps to jetset after the Kings game?
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.