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Three Things We Learned From Ducks vs. Flyers

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Things are going surprisingly well for an injury-riddled Anaheim Ducks team.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Anaheim Ducks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Flyers 3, Ducks 2 (OT)

  1. The Ducks have collected three out of a possible four points in their first two games with a patchwork roster. We all knew that injuries to Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, and Ryan Kesler would hurt in the early going. Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Ritchie, and Patrick Eaves being added to the list, however, nearly seemed like a death blow. Anaheim hasn’t been known for its offensive depth under Randy Carlyle Part Deux, but the magnitude of their injuries would give even the deepest of teams trouble. How have they done it? Rickard Rakell’s shift back to center has played a major role, as he’s given Carlyle a bonafide offensive threat to work with on the first line. He’s held his own defensively, which was certainly one of the fears when putting him back at center. Corey Perry looking like the Corey Perry of old doesn’t hurt either. He potted two goals in the home opener against Arizona, and although he didn’t find the back of the net against Philly, he was involved offensively all night long.
  2. Korbinian Holzer and Kevin Bieksa might have had their best game ever as a pairing against the Flyers. Rub your eyes, blink a few times...because there’s no typo there. Through two games, they’ve posted a sterling 60 percent Corsi For at even strength, as well as a 77.36 expected goals for percentage. You’d be hard pressed to find first pairings putting up those kind of numbers, let alone a third pairing. Based on track record alone, it’s fair to be skeptical that this will continue, but what gives? The two spent their bulk of their even strength ice time skating with the Shaw-Rasmussen-Wagner line, while facing the Konecny-Patrick-Weise line. It’s not like Carlyle is throwing them to the wolves, but he’s not giving them soft matchups either. It’ll be fascinating to see if this trend continues.

3. Lastly: Ondrej Kase’s buzzsaw-like style was on full display Saturday night. He just never seems to run out of gas. It was obvious from the beginning of training camp that this could be a big year for Kase. He made some guys look really bad in the black-white scrimmage, while showing off a nice playmaking touch. Make of that what you will, but we’d already seen flashes of potential last year as well. It all came together for him on Antoine Vermette’s goal, as he beat out two Flyers’ to the puck along the wall, and then wired a perfect pass across the slot for Vermette to put away. Every player has their “signature play” — the one that describes them in a nutshell — and that assist may have been it for Kase. That relentless approach sure seems to translate on a statistical level, as he’s also been one of Anaheim’s best possession players through two games. Thanks to all the injuries, Carlyle slotted him alongside Jakob Silfverberg, a decision which seems to be brewing some nice complementary chemistry. Silfverberg is obviously more gifted offensively, but they both have that “puck hound” mentality, while having the skill to make good on it. It’s unlikely Kase remains in the top-six once everyone returns to full health, but he sure won’t make that decision an easy one for the coaching staff.