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Ducks @ Islanders PREVIEW: Breaking the Slump, and Salvaging the Road Trip

Like shooting a nuke down a bug hole, the Ducks will look to pour gasoline on the offence in this barn burner.

NHL: New York Islanders at Anaheim Ducks
“Dont Bieksa this up, Kevin” - Gibson (probably)
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

GAME #36

Barclays Center

Thursday, December 21st, 1600 hrs Pacific Time.

Networks: MSG+, PRIME

Radio: AM 830

The Enemy: Lighthouse Hockey

This is the 5th game in a 6 game road trip (Pittsburgh Penguins up next) and the Ducks come screaming into it hoping to pump the breaks on a downhill slide. After picking up points in 8 straight games, the Ducks have lost the last two outright on their way to a 3-3-4 streak over the past 10 games.

A tale of the Ducks recent woes can be partially attributed to them not managing to score more than 3 goals in 17 straight games. This despite the relative high flying efforts of new-ish Duck Adam Henrique who has 8 points (4g, 4a) in his 10 games with the club. However, don't let Henrique’s individual success distract you from the bug menace, the 300,000 mobile infantry troopers lost on Klendathu, nor that team G/GP has gone down (and GA/GP has gone up) since Henrique was brought into the fold. Brutal.

The Ducks currently sit 29th for goal scoring and if they are to get past the Islanders, a offensive resurgence is very likely to be required.

On the flip side of the coin, the Islanders are also struggling coming off a 2 game losing streak and 3-6-1 over the past 10. Notably they did their finest impression of the Ducks, in their (last played) game against Detroit by giving up the early lead and then surrendering 3 goals in the final term. A 3 goal final frame may not necessarily be the norm for these Isle’s, but giving up a ton of goals certainly is. They currently wallow at the bottom of the league in this metric, giving up 3.5 goals a game... the polar opposite of their 2nd in league 3.5 goals for per game offence.

Speaking of the Islanders offence, there is one man in particular that the Ducks will have to keep an eye on. John Tavares. Sergeant Charles Zim famously once said “There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men (p. 61... if you’re so inclined),” and Tavares is one dangerous man. Sure Mathew Barzal is looking the goods with his 30 points in 34 game season. But John MF’ing Tavares - the wizard - has 2 goals and 9 assists in his last 5 games. Seriously WTF? And it’s not just a one time streak, noted by his 42 points (19g, 23a) in 34 games. It’s disgusting what he’s been doing to the poor net-minders this season, and the league should take action. Make the nets smaller, make the goalies gear bigger. Something. Anything, to keep the goalie position as the easiest position to play in sports. Goalie is the last bastion that the non-athletic nobody can still be included, and Tavares is individually and systematically driving these people away from the sport in droves. School grounds all over the country are being seen with no tenders playing. If the Ducks are (unfairly) left to their own devices and are stumped for answers, I can offer only this....

And maybe also don't have Francois Beauchemin, Kevin Bieksa or Andy Welinski on the ice during the game when Tavares is roaming the Ducks defensive zone.

This match up in theory could be an entertaining one, with both teams on roughly the same standings points, and both teams coming in cold as ice. The Ducks low scoring countered by the Islanders inability to stop beach balls, the Islanders ferocity on offence matched by #gibbytime. However, the Ducks strategy will have to be to slow the game down into a grinding low scoring affair. Should the Islanders unleash their offence, and Tavares pick up points in his 6th straight game, the Ducks will be chasing their tails.

The questions to be answered in this gruelling survival of the fittest include:

  • How will John Gibson’s hot AF goal tending match up the Islanders scorching hot offence?
  • Can the Ducks anaemic offence sneak some past the Islanders back-up level goal tending?
  • Should they matched up on the ice, will super rookie Barzal’s ability to seemingly score at will, be countered by Nick Ritchie’s ability to hit anyone unsuspecting like a freight train run off the tracks?

Remember: Supporting the Ducks guarantee’s frustration. Also maybe citizenship. Tune in for more details.