Anaheim Ducks @ Las Vegas Golden Knights
Tuesday, December 5th, 7:00 PM PST
Radio: AM 830, AnaheimDucks.com
Your Enemy: Knights on Ice
The Anaheim Ducks will be entering new enemy territory for the first time Tuesday night when they play at T-Mobile Arena against the newly minted Vegas Golden Knights.
I recently moved out to Vegas to join the high rollers. Just kidding. But really, I did just move out here and was a (un)fortunate 3rd party observer when the Golden Knights welcomed the San Jose Sharks to Sin City. And let me tell you—I have been to quite a few arenas and games in my mid-sized life and I have NEVER seen such a spectacle before at a hockey game. No, I take back “hockey game” and what I really meant was “Las Vegas entertainment show,” because that is exactly what it was. From the ice crew dressed up as pages and “sexy-ish” knights to the Blue Man Group intermission show to the techno/EDM music pounding, it really was a Vegas show. I literally couldn’t stop giggling because of all the glitz and the glamour of Vegas. But hey—if that’s how this new hockey team is going to be drawing in new fans and crowds, power to them, because they are doing exactly what they are expected to do. And while the Knights fans don’t know too much about the game of hockey yet and don’t notice small things like the fact that the in-house announcer doesn’t even call out when a play is under review, they are a rowdy, raucous crew that make the environment fun and wild.
But I digress. Enough about the fanfare and let’s get down to business.
The REAL heroes of this Vegas Tale
The Ducks may have come up short in a 2-3 loss against the Nashville Preds, but most will argue that this was arguably one of the most complete games played by the Anaheim club. This is good news for a team that has been treading to stay above .500 with its depleted roster. The Ducks are slowly uprighting a ship that seemed to has been sinking with the return of injured players (minus C Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf), the new additions of Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi), and the rise of young ducklings. While the Ducks are coming off a loss, there seems to be hope and cheer in holiday air for Anaheim.
The Vegas Golden Knights are, safe to say, a friggin anomaly. We all knew that the way the expansion draft was set up, the team wouldn’t be terrible for long, but who the hell thought they’d be in second in the Pacific a third into the season?! Yeah, neither did I. And considering the ridiculous questions in net, they have somehow managed to win. Many of us have questioned their real standing and have speculated that they would eventually come back down to earth as the NHL season is a long one. And that may somewhat be the case if you look at Vegas past 4 games, which were 3 losses and narrow 3-2 OT victory against the Arizona Coyotes. But all that being said, Anaheim will be entering T-Mobile arena, where the Knights currently hold a 10-2-0 record at home.
Like I said before, the team is an anomaly. The team manages to make up for weak goaltending with outstanding fire power and puck possession. Watch out for former Duck, Wild Bill, also known as William Karlsson as he has been the primary source of goals (14g on the season). The kid is all over the place and all over the net. The Ducks will need to also shut down Jonathan Marchessault. He has earned himself the “Corsi God” moniker among the Vegas fans due to his impressive Corsi percentage of 55.1. He has been a strong leader in possession and has only helped his linemates Reilly Smith and William Karlsson in that category. Hence the reason why these three are points leaders in every category for the team.
Keys to the Game
- Keep your cool - The Ducks needs to CHILL OUT. “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out”— that shit doesn’t really fly anymore. WAY too many times this season have we seen the Ducks shoot themselves in the foot by taking way too many penalties. The Ducks are really their own worst enemy.
- Shut the Smith-Karlsson-Marchessault line down. This is by far the most active and dynamic line of the team. And they’re dangerous. We wouldn’t have been so worried last year with the Cogs-Kes-Silf line, but the Ducks are going to have to do a little more work this year to maintain that line.
- Set the pace. What the Knights do best is just attack, attack and attack. Vegas knos they are better at playing offense than defense so they do their best to establish dominance over the puck early on and continue to crush their opponents in waves. But that’s the thing—while they are very good at offense, they are not so great at defense When the Knights get stuck in their defensive zone, they have trouble winning along the boards and clearing the puck. Then there’s the ultra problem of goaltending. The Ducks have to play the Knights at their own game. Push them into their zone and force them to make mistakes.