Date: Wednesday, November 21st
Time: 7:00 PT / 10:00 ET
Location: Honda Center
The Enemy: Nucks Misconduct
The Anaheim Ducks are entering Game 3 of their 4-game home stand. They’ve even been fortunate enough to play 7 of their 9 games this month at home. However, they’ve only been able to win three of those games, none of which have come on this current homestand, as well as losing 12 of the last 15 games. This is not the type of pace you want if your hopes are to make the playoffs.
There is some hope here, however. The Ducks happen to play in the Pacific Division, which is downright awful this year. They also play the Vancouver Canucks tonight, who they sit a mere one point behind in the standings. If the Ducks can capture a much needed two points, they’ll replace the Canucks in the third Pacific Division spot.
The Canucks are one of the bigger surprises of the league this year. Many expected them to sit near the bottom of the Pacific, but Bo Horvat continues to improve as their top center, and rookie Elias Pettersson is bascially the next Great One (according to all the posts and videos I’ve seen on Twitter).
Keys to the Game
Big game from the top line: Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell, despite the losses, have been playing well offensively. They just haven’t been on the lucky side of the puck. If (and when) some of their attempts start ending up in the net, the team should instantly improve.
Don’t be injured: The Ducks are already reaching pretty deep into the reserve bag with all their injuries. They *literally* can’t afford having any more players get injured (I’m looking at you defensemen).
Bully the goalie: Jacob Markstrom has a sub .890 save percentage so far this season. The Canucks are also the most penalized team in the league and have a bottom 10 penalty kill. The Ducks are all about capitalizing on key opportunities, but the strategy is simple to figure out: get traffic in front of Markstrom and don’t waste time looking for one more pass on the powerplay.
Players to Watch For
For the Canucks, as previously mentioned, their rookie superstar is fun to watch regardless of who you root for. Pettersson co-leads the team in points and will no doubt be a threat again tonight.
For the Ducks, Pontus Aberg is a good choice, but I’m betting on Rickard Rakell having a big game. He has been nipping at the bit with chances recently, and it seems only a matter of time before the puck starts falling his way. I think the Canucks are the team it happens to, and it’ll start a nice scoring tear for him.