Tuesday, December 19th, 4:00PM PST
Madison Square Garden
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Blueshirt Banter
The Anaheim Ducks will be facing the New York Rangers for the latter of a back-to-back set. The Ducks are coming off a disappointing 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils in which the team squandered leads of 2-0 and 3-1. With the loss, the Ducks snapped their seven game point streak and also handed Ryan Miller his first loss in regulation. Adam Henrique was yet again a huge bright spot for the Ducks as he scored a goal and had an assist in his return to New Jersey since being traded. The Ducks were also able to get goals from Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg, but the defense and Miller would not be able to hold the lead in the third period allowing the Devils to celebrate a comeback victory.
The New York Rangers will be well rested having last played on Saturday when they beat the Boston Bruins in OT 3-2. Since the month of December, the Rangers are 5-2-1. Even more impressive, the Rangers are 9-3-1 in their last 13 games. In the game against Boston, Michael Grabner scored his team leading 16th goal and Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves to give him 16 wins on the season. The Rangers are hoping to welcome back defenseman Mika Zibanejad, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion on November 26th.
Keys To The Game
For the Ducks to come out on top against the Rangers, they will need a complete effort from both the offensive and defensive fronts. John Gibson should return to net for Anaheim and will be expected to continue his stellar play. For how great he has performed this season, he hasn’t had the same success on the road as he has at home. Gibson is posting a 4-3-2 record with a 3.05 goals-against average and a 0.911 save percentage away from the Honda Center. This means the defense will need to perform much better than it has in it’s last two games. Against the Capitals and Devils, the Ducks have given up a combined 8 goals, 5 of those have come in the third period alone. The defense needs to play a full 60-minute game and Randy Carlyle needs to be more aggressive in the third period when protecting a lead. Far too often this season the Ducks have played cautiously late in the game resulting in a disappointing loss either in regulation or the dreaded overtime frame.
On the offensive side, someone other than Adam Henrique needs to contribute regularly. Speaking of Henrique, he has been such an outstanding addition to a Ducks team desperate for production. In 9 games with Anaheim this season, Henrique has 4 goals and 4 assists. Being without Corey Perry, Nick Ritchie and Ryan Kesler does put a dent in the offense, but the Ducks have had to deal with injuries all season so they should be used to the adversity by now. For a team that ranks 27th in the NHL with 2.62 goals a game, someone needs to step up and help generate some offense.
Special teams could play a crucial part in this game. The Ducks remain 2nd in the league in penalty minutes per game and will need to focus on being disciplined as they certainly will be coming into this game with tired legs. If the Ducks do find themselves headed to the box, their penalty-kill unit will need to remain solid. The PK unit has done an admirable job thus far with a 83.2% kill rate which is good for 6th in the league. However, that PK unit will be matched against a Rangers power play that currently sits 6th in the league with a 21.29% success rate. For a team that has been finding trouble getting pucks in the net, the Ducks will need to do their best to remain out of the penalty box.
To sum it up, the Ducks will need to remain focused and disciplined for a full 60-minutes. Gibson will need to continue his great season in net and the offense will need a compliment to Henrique to generate more production. Defensively the mistakes will need to be limited and if the Ducks obtain a lead, Carlyle needs to remain aggressive and have his team apply consistent pressure. If all these things can come to fruition then the result should add another two points for the Ducks.