Friday, April 6th, 7:00PM PST
Radio: AM 830
The Enemy: Defending Big D
The Anaheim Ducks will be competing in the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. This much we know. What still needs to be determined, however, is what the Ducks’ path to the Cup would look like, starting with their first round opponent.
For the full breakdown of all the scenarios, click here to read a great post from our very own Jake Rudolph that highlights all of the potential outcomes that could see the Ducks playing any of the following opponents in the first round: Nashville Predators, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, or Los Angeles Kings.
Most fans have an idea of who they would prefer to see the Ducks play in the first round, but I like to hold the mentality that if you want to be the best, you need to beat the best. If the Ducks want to believe that they can go out and win a Cup this year, they should be content with any of the potential opponents, as it shouldn’t matter whether they’re the best or not.
Others would punch me in the face (also our very own Jake Rudolph) and tell me I’m an idiot for having a part of me really want the Ducks to get Nashville in the first round. The only downside to that in my mind at this point is that it would mean that the Ducks slipped in the final two games of the season and ended up in the 2nd Wild Card spot.
The Ducks have an opportunity to not only move up and avoid having to play a division winner and Presidents’ Trophy winner, but even to claim home ice for the first round, were they to win out and claim 2nd in the Pacific Division (also assuming San Jose chokes—but c’mon, it’s what they do best).
Their first test of the back-to-back situation to end the regular season comes against the Dallas Stars. The Stars have been an interesting team this season. Interesting, in this case, meaning, “How the hell did this team miss the playoffs and look so mediocre?” Dallas is eliminated from playoff contention, but that should not mean that the Ducks should take this team lightly. They still have 90 points, having won their last two, and having a roster that would scare a majority of the teams in the NHL.
The Ducks have also been finding ways to win at the most important time of the season, having won their last three, including their most recent 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild that clinched their postseason berth. I will be interested to see how the Ducks look coming out, knowing that they will be headed to the playoffs for their sixth consecutive season.
Will they look flat and careless about who their first round opponent is going to be or will they be flying looking to build momentum for the playoffs and potentially seal up a match up that they find to be more favorable?
All Eyes on Me
Troy Terry. Free the man. Even if he’s in the press box, my eyes are on him. Because, why is he in the press box?
Keys to the Game
1. Goaltending - John Gibson is out due to a lower-body injury and it appears that Ryan Miller will be getting the net for this game against Dallas. I will be keeping an eye on how he performs and the volume of work that he faces, as Randy Carlyle may decide to use him on back-to-back nights when the Ducks travel to Arizona tomorrow night to wrap up their regular season campaign against the Coyotes.
2. Special Teams - This is almost always a key to the game for me, as it usually has a decisive factor in the outcome of the game. In this case, it’s more about building momentum and finding schemes and systems that work as they gear up for the postseason.
3. Use Max Potion on Cam Fowler - If anybody happens to have any healing ointments or magical powers, I would appreciate if you could direct them to #4 so we can turn 2-6 weeks into 2-6 hours. Thanks.