Last season, the Anaheim Ducks swept the Calgary Flames in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the second round, they dispatched the Edmonton Oilers in seven games. Yesterday, the Ducks got the rare opportunity to put a dagger in the playoff chances of one of those teams while simultaneously mortally wounding the playoff prospects of the other.
And they executed (this piece turned gleefully morbid in a hurry).
Anaheim didn’t technically eliminate Calgary from playoff contention, but they extinguished any realistic possibility of a turnaround on postseason chances that were already hanging by a thread. Now the Flames sit 7 points out of a playoff spot with 7 games remaining.
The Ducks were the model of unsustainable shooting perce-uhhh I mean “efficiency”— in this game winning by a final score of 4-0 with a final SOG tally of 29-16 in favor of the Flames. This game was peak Randy Carlyle, if you want a prime example of his coaching style.
I mean look at this graph. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you to stop laughing.
The Ducks can thank Mike “Literally Playoff Brian Elliott” Smith for allowing 3 goals on 11 shots last night. Despite this, the game wasn’t quite as one-sided as the shot attempts would lead you to believe. Calgary had a slight edge in scoring chances with 53.33% SCF%, while high danger chances were dead even at 8 each. So, despite the Flames generating more shot attempts, the Ducks were able to generate almost as much as the Flames in terms of realistic scoring opportunities. Like I said, efficiency!
At the end of the day, the Ducks proved that they recognize the position they are currently in and are playing like their lives depend on it. With the win, the Ducks leapfrogged the Kings to take sole possession of 3rd place in the Pacific Division while remaining within shouting distance of the San Jose Sharks in 2nd only 3 points back, albeit with one more game played.
Best and Worst
Best - Scoring chances. As mentioned above, scoring chances were, for all intents and purposes, relatively similar at 5 on 5. Check out this unblocked shot heat map from naturalstattrick.com for a great visualization of this phenomenon.
As you can probably tell, while Calgary got off more shot attempts, most of them were from relatively low danger areas, while Anaheim had multiple chances from the slot and right circle. It was ugly, but it worked.
Worst - “Shutdown Line”. I’m going to take the blame for this one. On Tuesday, I published an article on the resurgence of the shutdown line. Last night, The Kesler line had a 47.06 CF%, 37.50 SCF%, and 50% HDCF%. Definitely not the greatest night overall.
Best - Andrew Cogliano. Scored this beautiful short-handed goal after busting his butt on the forecheck to tie the one and only Paul Kariya atop the Ducks franchise leaderboard for most short-handed goals in a career with 16.
Given his elite penalty-killing skill and new 3-year contract extension, he’ll almost certainly take the lead sooner rather than later.
Best - Marcus Pettersson and Hampus Lindholm pairing. I wanted to throw in an extra one today to give this defensive pairing their due praise. Despite never having played together before for an extended period of time, the Swedenheim connection took over with an impressive 68.18 CF% with a 76.92 SCF% and creating 3 high danger chances and allowing none.
If this pairing continues playing like this until Josh Manson returns, Randy Carlyle could be in for some tough lineup decisions. In any case, it seems as though Marcus Pettersson has earned his spot on this roster.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Ryan Getzlaf - Captain Dad had 2 assists to continue his torrid scoring pace. If he hadn’t missed significant time earlier in the year, it’s likely he would be in the Hart Trophy conversation.
2. Andrew Cogliano - He never ceases to amaze on the penalty kill. Tying Paul Kariya on any Ducks franchise leaderboard is an outstanding accomplishment. Plus, we got one of the 3 times per year when Cogliano shows everyone that he doesn’t have rocks for hands.
1. John Gibson - 4th shutout of the year. 16th of his career. And this gem of a stat line:
John Gibson's last 16 games: 12-3-1, 1.79 GAA, .943 SV%, 3 shutouts.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) March 22, 2018
Oh, and did you know he’s only 24 years old? #GibbyForVezina
I’ll just leave you with these tweets to enhance your already undoubtedly great Thursday morning.
For the second consecutive year, the Anaheim Ducks have eliminated the Edmonton Oilers from Stanley Cup contention.— Anaheim Calling (@AnaheimCalling) March 22, 2018