Date: Sunday, January 6th
Time: 5:00 PT / 8:00 ET
Location: Honda Center
TV: SN, Prime
For the second time this season, the Anaheim Ducks are on a seven-game losing streak. Injuries have indeed played a factor, but it falls large-in-part to the Ducks’ inability to score goals, especially in big situations. During the losing skid, the Ducks have managed to score more than two goals in just one game. It’s not for a lack of trying; they just haven’t been able to keep up a consistent effort. Whether it be creating a rush into the offensive zone, or gaining some momentum after a penalty kill, the Ducks are struggling to find that continued pressure needed to grind out goals.
The losing comes as a bit of shock to me and, I imagine, to the rest of Ducks fans as well. Prior to the seven-game skid, the Ducks had won nine of their previous ten games and averaged 3.7 goals per game. They were sitting comfortably in second place of the Pacific division. Now they’re hanging on to the final wild card spot and seem desperate for players like Rickard Rakell and Cam Fowler to return in hopes of it sparking some kind of turnaround for the team.
Fortunate for the Ducks, they play an Edmonton Oilers team that’s scrambling to find solutions. So badly, in fact, they’re trading young assets for third pairing defensemen in search of a turnaround as well, after going 3-6-1 in their previous 10 games. The Ducks will still need to play this game with intensity and find that consistency in their game, as the Oilers have one component that’s unmatched and can steal wins almost as well as John Gibson. You know who I’m talking about: Connor McDavid.
Keys to the Game
Be a Bully like all Big Brothers. Every since the comeback on Katella happened, the Oilers have seemed like a little brother the Ducks can pick on (much like Calgary used to be). I would hate the Ducks too if I was an Oilers fan watching that playoff series, and would want to stick it to the Ducks every time I played them afterwards. But the moment you get past the first line of McDavid and Draisaitl, the Ducks have more talent. They should be able to win every puck battle and generate the majority of shots. They just need to come out aggressive and literally bully the Oilers on the ice.
Stop the McDavid Line. As mentioned, Connor McDavid is the best in the game. He can (and has) been stealing games for the Oilers since he joined the team. He’s fourth in the league in points with 61. He and Draisaitl are the key offense for the Oilers. If the Ducks can pinch down on that line and keep them from getting opportunities, the win should be a no-brainer for the Ducks.
Player to Watch For
Ryan Getzlaf stated after the Ducks loss to Vegas “I’m not playing up to the point I want to play to help push this group,” and he’s not wrong. He’s registered just one point for the Ducks over the past seven games. I expect a big game out of him to help push this team back into a winning mentality by the time their remaining top talent returns from injury.