Wednesday, February 21st, 7:00PM PST
TV: Prime, FS-SW
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Defending Big D
The Anaheim Ducks will host the Dallas Stars after returning home from what turned out to be a successful 4-game road trip. After starting the road trip on the wrong foot with a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in regulation, they turned around and won the next three games. Most notably wins against Minnesota, a team they were chasing at the time, and the Vegas Golden Knights, the league’s top team.
The Ducks have yet to win four straight this season, but this would be about as good a time as any for that trend to be bucked. The Stars are coming off a 5-2 defeat against the San Jose Sharks that got out of hand rather early, seeing them down 5-0 early in the 2nd period. If the Ducks can get off to a similar start that the Sharks did, they should have little issue holding the lead and securing the vital two points.
The Ducks 2-0 shutout victory over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena was one of their most impressive wins of the season, despite the fact that John Gibson left the game after the 2nd period due to a lower-body injury. Gibson did not skate on Tuesday and it will most likely be Ryan Miller getting the nod in the Ducks crease Wednesday night against the Stars.
The Stars currently sit in 3rd place in the Central Division with 72 points while the Ducks hold on to the 3rd spot in the Pacific Division (as of the writing of this preview, the Kings and Jets are tied 2-2 after 2 periods). With the Wild Card race up for grabs, it is crucial for the Ducks to continue to find ways to secure points in games down the stretch in the event that they get leapfrogged and pushed out of the top three spots in the Pacific Division.
All Eyes On Me
When I look back to the game against Vegas, where Anaheim controlled large stretches of play, I think of the root cause of these stretches. It leads to the captain, Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf created scoring opportunities left and right in the game against the Golden Knights. Despite the fact that he had a goal called back, he ended up getting it right back for Anaheim with a shot that deflected off the foot of Josh Manson and behind Marc-Andre Fleury. I’ll be looking to Getzlaf to create the same kind of impact against the Stars and keep the top line of the Stars in check.
Keys to the Game
1. Good Start - After the horrific start against the San Jose Sharks, the Dallas Stars were never able to fully recover, despite the fact that they found two late goals to make the game seem a little less one-sided. If the Ducks can take them out of the game early with a goal or two, I like their chances. Even with Randy Carlyle in charge of protecting the lead.
2. Generate Shots - The Dallas Stars do a really good job of keeping pucks to the outside and limiting chances in front of their goaltenders. The Ducks will need to find ways to break through their defense and put pressure on Ben Bishop if they want to get on the scoreboard often.
3. Win - Just do it. Win.