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Anaheim Ducks @ Detroit Red Wings PREVIEW: The Time Is Now

The Ducks hope to keep their playoff aspirations alive to start their four-game road trip.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game #58

Anaheim Ducks @ Detroit Red Wings

Tuesday, February 13th, 4:30PM PST

Little Caesars Arena

TV: Prime

Radio: AM 830

Your Enemy: Winging It In Motown

The Ducks will take on the Red Wings Tuesday night as they start the first of a four-game road trip. This will be the first matchup between both teams this season. The Ducks are coming off a very disappointing 3-2 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks controlled the majority of the game, yet they allowed the Sharks to score the equalizer with only 53.7 seconds left and later losing the chance to obtain a much needed second point. With only 27 games left in their season, the Ducks need to capture every point possible. With the season’s end drawing nearer, Anaheim is currently competing with six teams to obtain four playoff spots. Needless to say, the Ducks need to start a new winning streak immediately.

The Red Wings are recently coming off a 5-4 overtime win against the Washington Capitals. The Red Wings are technically still fighting for a playoff spot, but trailing the second wild card team by eight points with only 28 games remaining, their chances are growing slimmer by the day. Detroit has been pretty average overall this season with a 4-4-2 record in their last 10 games, a 11-11-7 record at home and a 22-23-9 record overall.

All Eyes On Me

Don’t look now, but Ondrej Kase is on a roll. In his last 5 games he has 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points. Since being moved to the third line with Nick Ritchie and Adam Henrique, Kase has begun to breakout as he seems to have built great chemistry with his fellow line-mates. The Ducks will need him to continue to have success on the third line if they hope to make a final push for a playoff spot.

Keys To The Game

The Ducks need to win games plain and simple. Against Western Conference opponents, they need to win in regulation. Every point is critical this late in the season and they cannot allow their opposition to steal any points from them as they did against San Jose. Randy Carlyle needs to coach more aggressively. His team’s goal differentials in the 3rd period compared to his predecessor are staggering. Fellow staff writer, John Broadbent, used the following image in his own article, but I feel it needs to be shown again.

I don’t know about you, but seeing those numbers make my stomach hurt and has me questioning how the Ducks successfully hoisted the cup under Carlyle’s leadership in 2007. Carlyle needs to have his team play as if they’re down one or two goals even if they have a two goal lead. His leadership moving forward will be weighed upon heavily if the Ducks don’t make the playoffs this season.

Among Carlyle needing to adjust his coaching style, the team needs to be disciplined in these final games. I feel like a broken record always mentioning Anaheim’s inability to stay out of the penalty box, but when you lead the league with 259 penalties taken as well as lead the league with 225 minor penalties and have been within the top two in each category since 2015, you have a discipline problem. When you’re fighting for a playoff spot late in the season, you cannot win games by playing shorthanded. If the Ducks continue to take meaningless penalties in this final stretch, they can kiss their season goodbye.

Bottom line, Anaheim needs to dig deep and come out hungry. They need to find that aggressiveness that has helped them achieve 100 point seasons the last few years. They need to find that energy which has propelled them to win the Pacific the last 5 seasons. They need to fight to gain a lead and then fight some more to hold onto it (without becoming shorthanded of course.) They need to find their identity and prove they’re a contender and not a pretender. They need to do it now on this four-game road trip.