Date: Wednesday, November 28th
Time: 4:00 PT/7:00 ET
Location: BB&T Center
The Enemy: Litter Box Cats
The Anaheim Ducks head south down the Florida peninsula on the tail-end of a back to back slate. The Ducks are coming off a surprising 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, considered to be one of the best teams in the league.
Despite struggling to get shot attempts off at a clip of only 42%, Anaheim was able to make the most of their high danger attempts, mostly brought about by making the Bolts pay for mistakes in the defensive zone.
The result is undoubtedly a morale boost to a hockey team that has struggled to find any semblance of consistency throughout the season. Beating one of the best teams in the league can only bode well for the attitude of the players headed into tonight’s game against the Panthers.
John Gibson will likely get the start for Anaheim after a terrific 34 save performance from Ryan Miller last night against the Lightning.
Unfortunately for the Cats, their season has not gone according to plan. They currently sit at the bottom of the Atlantic Division with just 22 points. However, they are only 5 points out of a Wild Card spot, which means a winning streak or two could put them back into the playoff conversation.
The Panthers are coming into this game with some renewed confidence, having snapped a three game losing streak with a 4-3 OT win against the New Jersey Devils on Monday.
With injured starting goaltender Roberto Luongo out until at least this weekend, backup James Reimer will likely get the start for Florida. Reimer currently sports a .892 SV% on the season, but a .946 career mark against Anaheim.
All Eyes On Me
Ryan Getzlaf leads all Ducks in career points with 11 points (4G, 7A) against the Panthers. Look for the captain to continue leading the team in creating offensive chances. Additionally, the depth scoring played a significant role in the win against Tampa Bay last night, with Carter Rowney, Nick Ritchie, and Pontus Aberg leading the way. Look to them to try and build upon their success against a weaker team.
Mike Hoffman clearly has settled in to his new team after being traded from the Ottawa Senators (with a brief stop in San Jose during the offseason). He leads the team in goals with 12 and points with 23. Outside of him, the usual suspects of Evgenii Dadonov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Alexsander Barkov follow on the leaderboard.
Keys To The Game
Get ahead early: Back to back games usually affect the energy of a hockey team later in the game, making them susceptible to increased pressure from the more rested team. Jumping out to a lead early could give Anaheim a much-needed cushion, as this team has enough issues with scoring and blowing leads as it is.
Pepper Reimer: Reimer, despite his historical success against the Ducks, has struggled to put up respectable numbers this season. It might seem like a lot to ask of a Randy Carlyle-led team, but put shots on net early, and one or two might sneak through.
Establish some consistency: After an ugly performance in Nashville on Sunday, Anaheim responded nicely with the win in Tampa Bay. They are currently tied with the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights in points, but sit just outside of a playoff spot due to losing the tiebreakers. Stringing together series of wins here and there will go a long way in a weak Pacific Division.