Date: Thursday, October 3rd, 2019
Time: 7:00 PM PT
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
TV: Prime Ticket
Your Enemy: Five For Howling
Before we get into previewing the very first regular season game of the 2019-20 campaign for the Anaheim Ducks, let’s take a moment to congratulate ourselves. We made it. One of the longest offseasons in recent Anaheim Ducks history, as their previous six seasons saw them in the postseason, sometimes playing as far in as late May in the Western Conference Final. Living without hockey can feel empty, but no longer. Shake off the rust and dust off your pregame rituals; gameday is here.
The Anaheim Ducks will open their season at home, playing host to the Arizona Coyotes. As most of you are well aware at this point, the Ducks will look nothing like the team that began the season last year. Gone are the days of Randy Carlyle, and with him gone are a lot of the veterans that made up the core of last year’s Ducks team. Corey Perry now plays for the Dallas Stars, Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves are both on long-term IR and will not play at all this season, and Anaheim Ducks’ legend Luke Schenn was placed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning and claimed by nobody.
The Coyotes made a few changes themselves, most notably adding Stanley Cup Champion and Hot Dog Champion Phil Kessel. The former Pittsburgh Penguin fills a massive need for the Coyotes, in someone that can be consistent at finishing offensively and putting pucks in the net. The Ducks will need to be sure that they keep an eye on him at all times, as he could prove to be a force, or at the very least a distraction that causes the Ducks to lose focus on Clayton Keller.
Keys to the Game
Special Teams - The Coyotes and Ducks both struggled on special teams last year and Dallas Eakins has sworn to address the discipline issues that have plagued the Ducks in recent seasons. With the offensively-minded kids (Max Comtois, Troy Terry, Max Jones, Isac Lundestrom) on the ice with an offensive-minded coach, I’ll be looking for the Ducks to capitalize early on power play opportunities and get the ball rolling with the man advantage. Recovering pucks after shot attempts will be the main factor that determines how successful they are here.
Physicality - The Ducks have downsized quite a bit since last season, literally. They have opted to try to catch up with the rest of the league by choosing speed and skill over size and strength. The mere thought must make Randy Carlyle squirm. The Coyotes are one of the smaller teams in the league and generally struggle when physicality is increased, so expect Max Jones and Josh Manson to be playing the body and forcing turnovers when the opportunities present themselves.
Goaltending - It wouldn’t really be an Anaheim Ducks preview if we didn’t talk about John Gibson. He’ll be the best player on the ice in a Ducks sweater this season, and I don’t think there are many who would disagree. His abilities keep the Ducks in games and sometimes even steal points that may not have been deserved. Dallas Eakins plays a high-event system, so expect Gibson to see a full workload against Arizona. I expect him to be up to the task, but he’ll need to be if the Ducks are going to open the season with two points.
Which Ducks player are you most excited to watch this season?
This poll is closed
Other (comment below)