Round 2 Game #3
Sunday, April 30th, 4:00 PM PST
TV: NBCSN, TVAS, SN
Radio: Mighty 1090AM, AnaheimDucks.com
All the momentum and luck is on the side of the Edmonton Oilers as the Anaheim Ducks head into Edmonton. After dropping two home games, the Ducks have their backs against the wall. The Oilers are heading back home to play in front of their home crowd. You can bet that this game will be the toughest the Ducks will have played thus far.
The most unfortunate thing about Game 2 was the fact that the Ducks did in fact play very well. They dominated possession and strung along quite a few chances, but Cam Talbot put up a brick wall. Talbot was the better goaltender Friday night. And he also had the help of the hockey gods and a couple of posts. Beyond unfortunate.
That being said, there are still many areas that the Ducks can improve upon to dig themselves out of this deep hole. I am thoroughly convinced that the Ducks on the whole are a much more balanced and deeper team than the Oilers. That being said, the Ducks are the Ducks’ own worst enemy. It is all dependent on which team and which system of play the Ducks show up with.
Take Game #2 for example—the Ducks took a slightly different approach defensively when it came to addressing Connor McDavid. Unlike Game #1, the Ducks didn’t focus so much on matching up and guarding against McDavid, as evident from a couple near chances from the kid. That being said, the Ducks on the whole took a much more physical, circa 2-years ago, flexing-their-muscles presence on the ice. Randy Carlyle was also forced to change the line-up a bit with Kevin Bieksa being injured, Nick Ritchie having ‘flu-like symptoms’ and Sami Vatanen still unavailable. In an attempt to reproduce the Anaheim Ducks team that rolled through the last month and a half of the regular season, Carlyle reunited Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell on the same line. It definitely made a difference since none of the Oilers (with the exception of Cam Talbot) could stop this line. They were not nearly as fancy with their plays and looked to get more pucks to the net. Although the outcome was not as we hoped, the Ducks were clearly the better team on the ice.
But all of that is void since Anaheim was unable to finish and take the lead of Game #2. It should be interesting to see what kind of take Randy Carlyle will have as the Ducks head into Edmonton. One would hope that he reminds the team of just doing what has worked in the past. The Ducks as a whole play better when they create traffic, buzz around, and crash the net. None of this perimeter passing and shooting nonsense. The success we have seen from this club during the last third of the regular season and post-season predominantly came from either 1) creating traffic in front of the goaltender or; 2) second shot opportunities after crashing the net and cashing in on rebounds. The one and only goal in Game #2 was a result of Patrick Eaves setting a beauty of a screen. Cam Talbot is staying low to the floor and moving laterally well. He is going to absorb all clear perimeter shots easily. The Ducks really need to focus on giving him a hard time in and around the crease. Get in the slot, create traffic, block Talbot’s view, crash the net, look for tips & rebounds.
Here’s to hoping that it’s a “Sunday Funday” for the Ducks in Edmonton. This post-season has clearly shown that home ice is not necessarily always advantageous. There have been many wins for the road teams. The Ducks are going to have to dig deep, use the home crowds’ hostility as motivation and skate their asses off for SIXTY minutes to get back in this series.