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Ducks @ Stars PREVIEW: Give Them The Unexpected

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Game 11

Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Time: 5:30 PT / 8:30 ET

Location: American Airlines Center

TV: Fox Sports Prime

Radio: AM830

Your Enemy: Defending Big D

The last time the Anaheim Ducks faced the Dallas Stars, they pretty much got their a**es lit. As a reminder, the Stars scored FOUR straight goals in 6:32 during the second to beat the Ducks 5-3. Ok, so if you missed that fun game, you probably missed how it went down. You can read the recap here for a refresher. Basically, it was not pretty.

Well folks, it’s a new day and a new game. But when when Dallas Stars Head Coach Jim Montgomery was asked about his game plan this time around, he said the following:

Ouch. So perhaps they’ve got the Ducks all figured out. But then again, Coach Montgomery is right—we do have John Gibson.

The Dallas HC makes a very crucial point by expecting the same type of game from the Ducks. This is where the Ducks need to step back and take a look at the small adjustments that could at the very least help relieve the pressure that Gibson has to face night after night. Let’s start with two generic areas for improvement:

  1. Control the puck through the neutral zone. While the Ducks have definitely struggle with keeping sustained pressure in the neutral zone, a large portion of that very problem can be sourced back to the lack of puck control in the neutral zone. While we love and wish for speedy, quick transitions, this young roster needs to first learn to take the necessary time to regroup and reset the transition into the o-zone. Right now, they are relying on the few spare chances off the rush to get legitimate scoring opportunities. They need to work on controlling possession in the neutral zone and entering the o-zone altogether. That will inherently help them maintain that possession offensively.
  2. It’s a total cliche, but play the man, not the puck. I think this is key as it comes to clearing the space in front of Gibson/Miller. Part of the reason for the Ducks’ lack of offensive zone pressure is due to the abundance of pressure within the defensive zone. (Duh.) It is definitely not for the lack of trying, but this is something that the young guys will need to learn at the NHL level. They are focusing too much on swatting the puck, but not enough on actually clearing the men in the area. And with the Stars buckling down and looking to get in the “greasy” areas of the ice, the Ducks will have to expect to get the run around by the Stars in front of the net.

I told you, its simple things that they need to start nailing down to see sustained results.

The Ducks know that this Dallas team is top-heavy. While that first Benn-Seguin-Radulov line packs a punch, secondary scoring has been extremely inconsistent thus far this season. That being said, they are high coming off a 4-2 victory of the Los Angeles Kings after seeing a goal and assist from both John Klingberg and Jason Spezza. You can bet that they will try to recreate the distribution of points against the Ducks.

Welp, if the Ducks can avoid only getting 4 SOG in a period, we can see that as somewhat of an improvement.