Tuesday, January 30th, 4:00PM PST
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
TV: Prime, NHL.TV ( Free Game )
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Stanley Cup of Chowder
The All-Star weekend has come and gone, and it’s time to begin the final third of the regular season. With only 32 games left, the Ducks find themselves in a 4-way tie in the West for the final wild card spot, with a record of 24-17-9 (59 points). The Ducks wrapped up a 5-game home stand by going 4-1 with their recent victory coming against the Winnipeg Jets in a 4-3 shootout. The Ducks played a great game against the Jets and completely dominated the overtime period which is surprising considering this season’s overtime woes. Anaheim is starting to get production from multiple lines as Corey Perry has resembled his vintage self since being demoted to the fourth-line, while Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell have been a formidable force on the top-line. John Gibson, who left last game due to a lower-body injury, will be a game-time decision but was said to be listed as 100% per Randy Carlyle. Either way the Ducks will be solid in net whether it’s Gibson or Ryan Miller between the pipes.
The Ducks needed to be successful at home as they won’t see much of the Honda Center in the month of February. In Anaheim’s next 14 games, only 4 will be played at home. Their first stop will be against the Boston Bruins Tuesday night. Having to face the Bruins fresh off the All-Star break will test the Ducks to see how well they fare against a playoff-caliber team. The Bruins currently have an 18-game point streak which is tied for second longest in their franchise. In that span they have a record of 14-0-4 with their last regulation loss occurring on December 14th. Boston’s success has come in part of their goaltender Tuukka Rask who has an 18 start point-streak himself, with a 16-0-2 record. Fortunately for the Ducks, they will face goalie Anton Khudobin instead per Bruins’ coach Bruce Cassidy. Also absent from Boston’s lineup will be Brad Marchand who will be serving the second of his five game suspension for and elbow against New Jersey Devils’ Marcus Johansson last Tuesday.
All Eyes On Me
Rickard Rakell had himself quite the NHL All-Star Game debut. In the final against the Atlantic, Rakell scored two goals in typical Rakell fashion, helping the Pacific claim a 5-2 victory.
Although Rakell leads the Ducks with 18 goals and 36 points, the success in the All-Star game could help further boost his confidence which could translate into a solid second half for the young forward. Rakell has 4-points ( 3 goals, 1 assist ) in his last 5 games. If he continues to elevate his game, I expect Ryan Getzlaf to elevate his as well which could create a very dangerous top-line. It’s not like Getzlaf has been a slouch this season when healthy. In his last 5 games he has 6-points ( 2 goals, 4 assists ). I figure Rakell to come out fired up against Boston and carry some momentum from the All-Star game.
Keys To The Game
For the Ducks to snap Boston’s point-streak, they will need to ensure they avoid a slow start. Typically after having some time off teams can find themselves in a lull. However, Anaheim needs to control the pace of play by establishing physicality early and maintaining high-tempo/energy for a full 60-minutes. When the Ducks are the more aggressive team, they play their best hockey. But while being aggressive, Anaheim will need to be smart as well. They can not afford to play shorthanded against a Boston team who ranks 7th on the Power Play. The Ducks will also need to find success at even strength, as Boston ranks an even better 3rd on the Penalty Kill. The Ducks need to take advantage of playing against a lesser Khudobin and create traffic upfront consistently. I feel if they can control the physical play and disrupt Khudobin, they can come away victorious. Even if Boston extends their point-streak to 19 games, let’s hope it’s in an overtime/shootout loss.