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Games 3 and 4 Observations

Thoughts on goaltending, Getzlaf, Fowler, the PK, and more.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

1. Freddy Steps Up

After Game 1 I advocated for sticking with John Gibson. Silly old me. Frederik Andersen has been almost perfect in his two games, stopping 57 of 58 Nashville shots. He's earned the right to be the man that either wins or loses this series. Per Eric Stephens, the man is 19-1-3 since Christmas. Wow.

2. Lindholm and Getzlaf Dominate

We've heard it a million times: Your best players have to be your best players to win in the playoffs. Everyone knows Ryan Getzlaf is the Ducks' best forward, and by now it's also pretty clear that Hampus Lindholm is their best defenseman.

After a lackluster opening pair of games, the Captain owned the puck in Games 3 and 4. As is almost always true when he's on, he could have picked up multiple assists each game had his linemates been able to finish just a little better.

Lindholm, on the other hand, has been awesome all series long. If you're not already, start watching this guy specifically for the decisions he makes with the puck. See if you can guess where he's going with it.

3. The Thomspon-Rakell-Perry Line

This new combination has been fascinating, to say the least. Rickard Rakell has gotten better with each game, but he still doesn't look 100%. Nate Thompson, I think it's fair to say, has exceeded expectations. And Corey Perry is cold. We know goal scorers are streaky, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating to see him not score.

And yet, this line created a goal in both away games. We should all be very, very excited for what happens when Rakell feels better and Perry gets hot again, even if Thompson cools off. Remember, half the reason Thompson is on this line is so that Jamie McGinn can bring more scoring to the fourth line. (Which has been great, by the way. Never scratch Shawn Horcoff again.)

4. Cam Fowler

He's not exactly killing it out there, is he? In Game 4, his on-ice shot attempt differential (corsi) was a team-worst minus-11. I've gone to bat for him on this blog before, but there's a reason he's one of the most controversial players in the AC community. His decision-making isn't on the same level as his skating ability, which is usually fine because he knows enough to play to that big strength of his. But in the last couple games, sometimes it looks like he's trying pass his way out of trouble more often than skate his way out of it, and it's cost him (and the team).

I still believe Fowler is a good defenseman who provides excellent value for his cap hit. But Lindholm's been skating figurative circles around him lately, and for the sake of the next few games (and hopefully more than that), he needs to sharpen up.

5. Going Shorthanded

Every game in the history of hockey at any level has featured missed calls, and most NHL games feature phantom calls. These things happen, and unless they occur in a one-sided avalanche against one team, it's not entirely fair to blame the refs. Game 2, you could argue, verged on one-sided avalanche territory, if only slightly. But in Games 3 and 4, the Ducks have only themselves to blame for their penalty trouble. David Perron was the big offender, but he was far from the only one.

So thank goodness (or Bob Murray) we have Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan KeslerAndrew Cogliano, and Getzlaf out there to kill penalties. All four have been tremendous. Silfverberg has been, according to these eyes, the Ducks' best winger all series long. Aside from the captain, he's probably been the best forward.

6. Pat Foley, A Hero of Our Time

If you haven't heard, Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley went off about late start times during last night's Hawks-Blues game. Everyone's favorite analyst Mike Milbury then denounced Foley's opinion later that night, and now the likewise adored Gary Bettman has given his thoughts on the issue.

What these folks really disagree about is to which type of fan game times should cater.

Foley thinks game times should be convenient for the fans of the two involved teams, regardless of overlap with other games

Milbury and Bettman think game times should be convenient for fans who want to be able to watch as many games and teams as possible. Their argument is that it's never been easier for a hockey nut to sit at home and see every single playoff game, and they are 100% right about that.

But they are wrong to prioritize those hockey nuts, who were always going to find a way to watch anyway, over the 17-20 thousand fans who buy tickets to attend the games in person, and the many, many more who want to watch their team on TV and then want to get to bed at a decent hour. Well, morally wrong. Not financially wrong, of course. Because those fans are still gonna fill the arena and tune in to NBCSN. It'll happen again tomorrow, when 17,174 Ducks fans rearrange their Saturdays so that somebody else can watch the Ducks and Preds after they watch Rags-Pens but before they watch Blues-Hawks games.