Date: Friday, 30th November
Time: 1630 PST / 1930 EST
Location: PNC Arena
TV: FS-CR, PRIME
The Enemy: Canes Country
The Ducks are coming in hot!
Three games into a road trip in which they could have been expected to not win a game, the Ducks have won the past two. In one they shut down a league leader and offensive juggernaut. In the second they outscored another top 10 scoring team in the Florida Panthers. 2 wins that have them once again co-leading the Pacific Division (although without the tie breaker or games in hand) and a 7-4-3 record through the month of November. A month in which they’ve improved to place 25th in the NHL for shot attempts, and 26th for scoring chances - clear improvements from the month of October.
They ride this hot streak into a game against a team who may be the most fun to watch in the NHL right now.
Unless you’ve been living under rock the past week, you would have seen former Duck GM (and special what ever he was for a while) Brian Burke called out the Hurricanes for their atrocious display of unprofessionalism. Here have a look.
“Absurdly amateurish, pee-wee garbage stuff,” Burke said.
As an old hockey talking head with no finger on the pulse of the modern fan, we know that Burke must be correct here. We also know that the Ducks, a team steeped in the archaic beliefs of the their old boys club. A club once inclusive of Burke, will agree. So they march into this battle - not game, battle - aiming to stamp out the horrific mockery that Hurricanes inflict upon their victims. HOW DARE THEY entertain their fans with fun hockey, and wonderful celebrations?!
How better to lead the charge against fun up-tempo hockey, than to grind it away with a dour bottom 6? A bottom 6 that Travis Yost suggests is amongst the best in the league. He may even be onto something. A bottom group of forwards consisting of Ryan Kesler, Adam Henrique, Nick Ritchie, and Andrew Cogliano, (no I’m not trolling, read his article) is as strong a group of grinders as you can find in the NHL. But even they pale in comparison - despite the resurgence of Thicc Nick - to Carter Rowney. Recently back in the team after a somewhat lengthy rehabilitation process, Rowney has been a platform for the Ducks success. 5-1-1. That's the dominant record that the Ducks possess when last years healthy scratch is in the lineup. It’s these superheros that will fight to maintain the status quo and ensure lifeless trap hockey lives on throughout the NHL.
But what villains they face!
2018-19 NHL Season— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) November 24, 2018
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Look at how they mock the traditionalists! Flaunting their arrogance in the face of perfectly rationale views that fun is bad, and boring is good. Of course it would be a Finn who would lead their arrogant dance, for never would a Swede of the two-way variety do such things! Sebastian Aho, he of 25 points, is the ring leader of this alliance of evil. His number 2, Teuvo Teravainen (another Finn) follows not far behind, with 18 points on the season.
So much fun are they having behind Michael Ferlund’s 11 goals, along with Jordan Martinook and Aho’s 7 apiece, that even the once dreamy Justin Williams has lost his way as the teams Captain, and has seemingly embraced his teams penchant for entertainment. Which gives one pause for thought. As the old sayings go: if you lay down with dogs, you’ll probably get up happier, because dogs are great, and; a rolling stone is worth two in the bush.
But will the Ducks prevail? Will they collect a victory for themselves? Will they prevent the hockey world from being inflicted with the fun that Carolina seek to succumb it to? You’ll just have to watch to find out.
I Spy With My Little Eye
With the Buffalo Sabres, Rasmus Ristolainen, scoring his between the legs goal prior to his dancing flower girl celebration, it’s become apparent that the Finnish are out in force.
Thus, and it is low hanging fruit admittedly, my eyes will be drawn to Aho and Tervainen tonight. Aho in particular has seemingly taken the step from just being a guy, to being a dominant force in the centre of the ice. A truly elite #1 centre iceman. Perhaps somewhat forebodingly for the Ducks, this high end scoring machine has been kept off the board in his past two games (against the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Islanders, no less), and only has 3 shots on net over the past 3 games. It seems unlikely that an offensive force of Aho’s nature will remain scoreless for too long, thus it would behove the Ducks to keep a keen eye upon him. With Hampus Lindholm seemingly ready to go, and with Josh Mahura being called up, who will get the assignment to prevent Aho from celebrating?