What do the Anaheim Ducks have in common with a normal garden variety square?
They both have 4 solid lin..... oh. Getzlaf is out? Eaves? Fowler? Bieksa? Kesler? Right, it is starting to look like a band name. Lets just call them R.S.C. Perry and the Gulls. It’s catchy and has been working so far. So long as Kase keeps shooting in the 25-30% range, the Ducks as a whole keep shooting above the league average, and Gibson remains the bee’s knees, they’ll probably be okay. For sure they're not going to get by on volume shooting, or by relying on their broken stars.
Luckily, they're up against the Predators, and they're playing at home. It may be hard to imagine, but someone has allowed Pekka Rinne to masquerade as their goal tender. I know, I know, its 2017 you're saying. No one could be that foolish. Yet it appears that the Predators are indeed - as they apparently say in the south - crazier than an outhouse rat. What could could be a better test for Anaheim’s, thus far, phenomenally lucky bottom 6 than a beneficial match up with noted sieve Rinne? There’s no reason Ondrej Kase and Derek Grant can't keep lighting the lamp in this one. As an added bonus, since the Predators have scoring issues themselves, it’s even plausible that John Gibson can make up some ground towards the top echelon of netminders this season and solidify his claim to the Vezina that he rightfully deserves.
Both teams are currently out of the playoff picture, and both teams are coming off losses sustained 2 nights ago. The Ducks were shown up on the way to Patrick Marleau’s 100th career game winning goal, a record only 8 players have ever achieved in history. Small consolation as that is to the Ducks. The Predators were beaten, bloodied, and battered, in an utterly comprehensive manner by the Sharks. For some reason deciding that they would let Jumbo Joe Thornton score his 1400th career point. I suppose it’s one way for a team no one cares about to get on the TV, so who am I to judge? With a night of rest since the previous game, both teams should come out firing.
Other than those minor points, there isn't much interesting to say about Nashville as a team. This year or in the past. So for now, maybe watch the crowning moment of their franchise. The peak of their existence. Their Opus, if you will.
All Eyes On Me
Filip Forsberg: I’m cheating. I know it. But noted hatchet man James Neal isn't there anymore.
On a team that scores less than the Ducks, Forsberg is the premier offensive talent. 8 goals, 5 assists and 31 shots in his 11 games this season. He’s been utterly devastating with the man advantage, with 5 of his goals and 7 of his points coming in that situation. The Ducks certainly do play better, and winning, hockey when they’re taking a bunch of penalties. However it would perhaps not be the wisest idea to allow Forsberg to tee off from the slot as has been the Ducks current trend. He will make an already lucky penalty kill unit pay the price if this happens.
Keys to the Game
Pekka Rinne is their goal tender. Really, I'm not kidding. If Randy wants the keys to unlocking the secret that is this game, he only needs to ensure the Ducks shoot the puck. Thus far the Ducks bold strategy of not shooting the puck (22nd in the league for Corsi attempts), has done them well. 6-5-1, with the hospital ward overflowing, is better than anyone could have hoped for. However, winning in this manner is likely to be somewhat difficult against the Predators, given they're top 10 for fewest corsi attempts against, scoring chances against and high danger scoring chances against. More attempts will be better, if they're already going to be somewhat limited. If the Ducks try replicate their previous game and generate offence as they did against Toronto (chart below - it’s gross i know. I’m sorry you have to see it), they will not be troubling the score keepers overly much. However, given Rinne is the opposition net minder, they should only need minimal attempts to sneak a couple through. As the Preds are also having trouble scoring, a couple ought to be more than enough. Pepper the net, then put away some of the rebounds. Do that, and an offensive explosion could be on the cards
Do I think that Ducks will make that leap, score a bag, and take victory in this trap game? Well I’ll answer what any man with two penises would answer, when his tailor asks if he dresses to the left or the right. Yes.