Date: Sunday, November 25th
Time: 5:00 PT / 8:00 ET
Location: Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-W, NHLN-US
The Enemy: On The Forecheck
The Anaheim Ducks have been finding ways to win games recently, despite the fact that they may not have looked like they deserved to win. The Ducks are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and are coming off an improbable (or maybe probable at this point) comeback win against the Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks tied the game with only 17 seconds left in regulation, courtesy of Nick Ritchie, and Rickard Rakell followed it up by winning the game for Anaheim just 14 seconds into the overtime period.
The Nashville Predators continue to pace the Goliath Central Division, and are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. They currently sit at 16-6-1 overall for this 2018-19 season and and trail only the Buffalo Sabres (!!!) for the lead in the NHL in points. The Predators are coming off a 6-2 defeat against the St. Louis Blues and will look to rebound against a Ducks team that has struggled to find consistency with offense.
As always when the Ducks and Preds play each other, the question arises: Is Pekka Rinne really THAT good? Sure, he has moments where he looks like a Vezina candidate, but then he’ll have games where he gives up a soft goal here and there. I’m not saying he’s a terrible goaltender, I’m just saying that he’s....average.
Player to Watch
The player I will be watching in this game is Rickard Rakell. Rakell has been struggling to find the same scoring touch he has shown over the last couple years, but I’m hopeful that his OT winner against the Edmonton Oilers shook the money off his back. The Ducks will need him to continue to stay productive if they are going to continue finding ways to steal points and stay in the running for a playoff spot as we approach the turn of the calendar year.
Keys to the Game
Discipline - Just don’t give the Predators power play opportunities. With the blue line that they have and the skilled forwards like Filip Forsberg and Kevin Fiala, the Ducks would be smart to avoid taking penalties wherever they can, despite the heated rivalry that will no doubt have sparks.
Kesler vs Johansen - Not so much a key to the game for this matchup to be one-sided for Kesler, but man do I love watching him bother Ryan and I hope that he continues to remain in the thoughts of Johansen for the next 15-20 years.
Goaltending - The Ducks have relied on goaltending all season long to be elite, and with a guy like John Gibson between the pipes, it’s easy to begin to expect excellence. The Ducks will also need to make sure they are getting in front of Pekka Rinne and blocking his vision as well as they can if they want to expose his averageness in front of an NHL Network audience.