Tuesday, February 6th, 4PM PST
Keybank Center Buffalo, NY
TV: PRIME, NHL.tv
Radio: AM 830
Your enemy: Die By The Blade
The Ducks were on the wrong side of a scoring fest with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That makes three straight losses after three straight wins. They don’t have much time for remorse however, since they take on the Buffalo Sabres in a back-to-back.
The Sabres are a depressing team. They were suppose to join several rebuild teams in a turnaround. Yet they sit lower in the standings this year than they did last year, 30th to be exact. They have some key pieces - I hear that Jack Eichel kid is pretty good - but they are still a ways away from being a playoff team.
The Ducks should be heavy favorites to win this game. They also were favorites to win against Ottawa and Montreal. They can’t afford to go on losing streaks while sitting as a bubble team for the playoffs. It’s not for lack of trying though as the Ducks have registered over 40 shots in each of their past two games. If they can keep the offensive opportunities up, and get some decent goaltending, I don’t see Robin Lehner and the Sabres being too much of a problem.
All Eyes on Me
With how the game in Toronto went, a lot of people will be looking to see if the newly reunited RPG line - Rakell, Perry, Getzlaf - can repeat their performance. The Ducks’ four lines are looking how I’d like them though. The real concern for the team, with them playing a team that should result in two points, is who’s in net.
John Gibson is recovering from injury and was on the ice practicing before the Toronto game. It’s unclear if he’s ready to play or not, and with Carlyle being Carlyle, we’re unlikely to find out until game time. If he is the netminder tomorrow, it’ll be interesting to see if any rust built up or if he can get back into his groove before his injury.
On the flip side, if Reto Berra backstops the Ducks then it’ll be pretty much a coin flip on who wins. Berra can put together a good game, but he can just as easily let in every other shot thrown his way. Bottom line is the Ducks’ goaltending situation is delicate right now, especially after Miller had another poor outing.
Keys to the Game
Goaltending - I’ll keep it light since I “All Eyes” is on goaltending. The Sabres are the lowest scoring team in the league, which fairs well for the Ducks. With the goaltending currently in question for Anaheim though, goaltending is still the biggest factor in who wins the game.
Desperation - The game is a must-win. The Ducks have now gotten one point in the last three games. Most of us thought they’d get at least four with relative ease. The season is only getting shorter and if the Ducks want to make playoffs, the games they should win (Buffalo) need to be won.