GAME # 74
Wednesday, March 21st, 7:00 PM PT
TV: SN360, SN-W, FS-W
Radio: AM 830
The Enemy: Matchsticks & Gasoline
The homestretch is upon us, folks. The Anaheim Ducks are down to just nine games left in the regular season before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. The Ducks will see teams like the Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars. All five of those teams are currently battling for the few playoff positions available in the Wild Card and 3rd-place spots in the respective Western Conference divisions.
The Ducks need to find ways to make the team click both offensively and defensively in order to get the points necessary to survive to April 8th. Every single one of those teams is saying the same thing to their teams, and everyone knows what is on the line. Talk of “four-point games” will be at peak level for the next two weeks, so prepare yourself for massive victories and hopefully not as many devastating losses.
The Calgary Flames have been struggling lately and are clinging by their fingertips to stay in the race with the other teams mentioned above. They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 and have dropped their last three consecutively. Those are crucial points that the Flames are leaving on the table, and this game against the Ducks could unravel their season if they cannot find a way to get two points.
It is of the utmost importance that Randy Carlyle understands this and ensures that not only is the team ready to play at the drop of the puck, but that the best available lineup is out on the ice. Now is not the time to be claiming that leadership will help the young guns to grow. Now is the time to understand that your team is factually better when certain players are on the ice and in the lineup.
The Ducks are currently sitting in the 2nd Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 86 points. The Los Angeles Kings currently hold the 3rd place spot in the Pacific Division with 87 points, thanks to their ability to take the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets to overtime on back-to-back nights, collecting a total of three out of the possible four points. Whatever.
Calgary is sitting at 80 points with only eight games left to play, and with the current state of their hockey team, the playoffs look bleak at the moment, to put it bluntly. If I was a betting man, I would assume that the Flames will need at minimum, 12 of the remaining 16 points for a chance at the postseason. The teams in front of them are finding ways to win (or push games to OT), and it’s burying Calgary quickly. Let’s be the final nail in the coffin.
All Eyes On Me
The Ducks are in “must-win” situations now. In must-win situations, I look to the top line, and more specifically, Ryan Getzlaf to be the catalyst. Getzlaf knows how to show up in big-time situations, and this is about as big as times get. Captain Dad has been on fire this season when he has been in the lineup, and he has also been known to play rather well against the Calgary Flames. This would be a hell of a good time for Getzy to have an offensive showing and ensure that the Ducks leave the Saddledome with two points to show for it in the standings and a spot in 3rd place in the Pacific once again.
Keys to the Game
1. Kick Them While They’re Down - The Flames are struggling recently and hope is starting to fade ever so slightly in their eyes. If the Ducks can start quickly and take the building out early, the players will follow, and the Ducks should be able to get the two points.
2. Special Teams - The special teams have been rather inconsistent this season, and if they could find a way to heat up and be flying going into the playoffs, that would be ideal for Anaheim. Calgary would be a good place to start, as they have only the 25th-ranked power play and 12th-ranked penalty kill.
3. The Shutdown Line - Refer to the beautiful piece of writing put together by our very own CJ Woodling here to see that the 2nd line of Cogliano - Kesler - Silfverberg has been slowly making their presence known over the course of the past month. If they can continue to be a positive influence, it will allow the top line and the 3rd line to have more of an impact. 4th line.....you guys, uh.....just keep....doing.....what you do, I guess?