After an embarrassment over the weekend, dropping both games of a back-to-back against non-playoff teams, the Ducks showed an impressive performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets, especially on the penalty kill. Much like every game the past few weeks, this was an important one and was a much needed two points for the Ducks as they fight to remain in the final playoff spot. It was even more crucial to make a statement without their Captain, Ryan Getzlaf, in the lineup, who was out with the flu. Over in the east, the Blue Jackets also sat in the final wild card spot prior to the game. With the loss, however, along with the Hurricanes winning, they now sit outside the playoffs.
It felt like all season, the Ducks were a few games ahead of teams so the standings were a bit misleading. With the long break after the trade deadline, the teams Anaheim are competing with are now all sitting around 64-65 games. The Ducks’ future is in their own hands as they have a favorable road to the finish, playing 11 of the remaining 17 games at home - all of them being extended home stands. Nine of those games are against non-playoff teams. Normally this is a good thing—but for the Ducks, who knows? They have a frustrating tendency to play to their competition (i.e. losing to Arizona and Edmonton). Let’s just hope the Ducks are able to figure it out and take advantage of the fortuitous schedule.
“Everybody knows how tight it gets this time of the season. We know that we control our fate if we put our best foot forward and go out and win games. That’s the only way we’re going to make it.” - Josh Manson
The Ducks controlled it tonight as they won the defensive battles. Ever since the Ducks traded Vatanen, the defensive pairings have been a rotating question mark. The poor weekend caused Carlyle to revert back to his juggernaut pairing of Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, along Montour and Fowler who’ve been playing well. Since the turn of the calendar, this has been the strongest top four set up for the Ducks, delivering a 53.03 & 53.87 Corsi for % respectively.
Best and Worst
Penalty Kill - The Ducks dominated while down a man. Along with shutting down all four of the Blue Jackets man advantages, they also had three breakaway chances to show for it, converting on two of them. Andrew Cogliano went 1 for 2 on chances, scoring a short-hander in the second period, bring him to within one of tying of the franchise record (16).
Josh Manson scored a breakaway goal of his own just 1:27 later as he was jumping out of the penalty box. “
“That’s what you dream about when you’re in the penalty box” - Josh Manson
John Gibson - Gibby has been in and out with injuries several times over the season, none being extremely long. One thing that has been a great sign is he hasn’t lost any consistency in his play. He missed the previous 3 games, and also got the extended rest after the trade deadline. There didn’t seem to be any rust build up though as he was lights out, stopping 35 of 36 shots. If he can stay healthy throughout the playoffs, the Ducks will be a difficult team to beat.
Bad penalties - the Ducks may have been excellent on the penalty kill, but the calls they took to get there were ill-timed and avoidable. Chimera getting a retaliation penalty, Beauchemin being slow and getting beat leading to a slash, Manson taking a penalty away from the puck, the Ducks receiving an additional penalty after a scrum. All of these can be avoided with discipline, minus Beauchemin because he’s just slow and is going to get beat. “When you win the special teams battle, you usually have a very good chance of winning the game” Carlyle said. A strong penalty kill is a must if you plan to win games in the playoffs, but don’t take penalties just to take them.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Josh Manson - strong defensively as always, Manson also scored a breakaway goal giving him 5 goals and 27 points on the season.
2. Andrew Cogliano - Cogs was all over the ice tonight, generating multiple scoring chances, logging minutes on the penalty kill, and getting a short-handed breakaway goal.
1. John Gibson - after missing some time with a lower-body injury, Gibby was back in net and didn’t miss a beat. After allowing the first goal on a loose puck in front, he was flawless the rest of the game and the frustration showed for the Blue Jackets.
The Ducks will be back in action Sunday at Honda Center when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at 1pm PST.