Thursday, January 4th, 6:00 PM PST
Rogers Place Arena
TV: Prime, NHL.tv
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Copper and Blue
The Ducks have now won three games in a row for just the second time this season after a dominating 5-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Ducks have won 6 of their past 10 games after a recent uptick in quality of play, largely due to their slew of injuries finally subsiding (hopefully) and outstanding play by their top line. They look to stay undefeated in 2018 as they take on a struggling Oilers team tonight in Edmonton.
The Edmonton Oilers are also coming off a game that ended 5-0. The Oilers were on the losing side of the scoreboard however, as they lost the nail-biter of a game to the Kings. They did keep it close until the 3rd, when they took an early 5-minute major penalty and allowed three goals while down a man. The Oilers continue to look for answers as they sit 26th in the league.
There will be some bad blood in this game, as the Ducks and Oilers face each other for the first time since their incredible second round playoff matchup that saw the Ducks come out victorious in Game 7.
Both teams are still very much in need of the two points. The Ducks now healthy (mostly) are playing much better and currently hold the final wild card spot in the West. The Oilers (as mentioned) are struggling to win games however, lacking depth on both offense and defense, and are nine points out of a playoff spot.
All Eyes On Me
I’m going to start with the Edmonton Oilers and the obvious player to watch on their team. Connor McDavid is electric on the ice and so much fun to watch. If he catches a team sleeping for even a second, more than likely he’ll turn it into a quality scoring chance.
The Anaheim Ducks have Ryan Getzlaf though. And he’s dragging the Ducks into the playoffs kicking and screaming if he has to, as long as he has Rickard Rakell to bang in all his passes. With 12 points in the last 6 games, Getzlaf is producing at the best point production rate in his career, and shows no intent of slowing down.
Keys to the Game
1. Stop McDavid and Draisaitl - Leon Draisaitl actually caused the most damage to the Ducks during the playoffs last year, as McDavid dealt with Kesler’s shutdown line. Both players are deadly though. The Ducks need to limit the opportunities given to both McDavid and Draisaitl, especially when the Oilers inevitably end up on the powerplay and the two play on the same unit.
2. Dominant top-line play - As I already mentioned, Getzlaf has been unstoppable. You can often tell the outcome of a Ducks game by how he’s playing. He has also sparked Rakell into a 6-game goal streak. If they can continue their level of play, the Oilers will have a tough time winning.
3. Goaltending - Whoever has been in net for the Ducks this season has played exceptionally well. With strong goaltending, a win is always within reach. Ryan Miller was in net against Vancouver so I assume it’ll be John Gibson against the Oilers.
Last resort - Score 3 goals in the final three minutes and win in double overtime, which is exactly what the Ducks did to the Oilers in Game 5 of the second round. Probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever watched. Shout out to my buddy that kept me from turning the game off right before it all went down - you know who you are.
Here’s the video if any of you wish to re-live it: Ducks vs. Oilers Game 5