So much hype! So much newness! With all the excitement built around the new look Ducks, it was easy to see why we have all been excited for this season to begin. Let’s recap the first win of this season and first win for Dallas Eakins as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.
The first period of the first game with a new coach and new system went about how you would expect. Choppy game flow, turnovers, a lot of “just a bit late” passes and poorly executed breakout attempts. All things considered, the framework for the new system was there, but the execution/chemistry will need time to be created. As a result, first period shot attempts (14 to 6) and high danger chances (4 to 2) were in favor of the Coyotes.
Some Ducks fans may have been thinking “Oh no. Here we go again” as this period mimicked a lot of last season’s Ducks under Randy Carlyle, but, if you looked closely, you could see the foundations of Dallas Eakins’ system and the high event/high chance hockey it can bring to the table.
All of that said, it does help having John Gibson in net. While the Coyotes generated plenty of opportunities, Gibson was locked in and the Ducks did an ok job keeping their chances to the lower danger variety. This kept the game at 0-0 and with 5:28 left in the first, Elite 1C Derek Grant got the Ducks on the board by banging in a rebound off of a Devin Shore drive to the net.
The play was generated by a nice kick save by Gibby. The puck was then carried out of the defensive zone by Derek Grant. Grant could have easily and justifiably dumped the puck into Arizona’s zone and gone for a change, but instead, he fed a beautiful cross ice pass to Shore who was streaking up the left side of the ice. Shore blew past the defender, went forehand/backhand and was denied by Darcy Kuemper (tip of the hat on a good save). The rebound sat in front of the crease as if to say “Elite 1C Derek Grant: You earned this one.”
To me, this play was a small example of Randy Carlyle hockey vs Dallas Eakins hockey. Grant created something as opposed to being safe and it turned into the lead.
The Ducks went into the first intermission up 1-0 all while trailing play for most of the period.
The second period was almost the exact opposite of the first. This period, the Ducks controlled play and had the Coyotes on their heels for long stretches. Better in-zone passing and breakouts lead to a 14 to 8 shot attempt advantage in favor of the Ducks, though the high danger chances were split 3 to 3. If the first period showed us anything, it is that hockey is funny because a team can control most of a period only to have the other team be rewarded with a goal.
Such was the case at the 10:57 mark in the period when the Coyotes caught the Ducks going for a line change. The puck was fed up the right side to Clayton Keller who drove to the top of the face off circle. He sent a nice little backhand sauce pass over to Phil Kessel who was driving down the slot. He kicked it over to Derek Stepan who finished it top shelf. There was not a whole lot Gibson could have done with that one.
Anaheim Ducks 1 - Arizona Coyotes 1.
The second period was about to come to a close, but with 35 seconds left, Cam Fowler decided to go for a skate, break some ankles and snipe home his first goal of the season in the process. This was an absolute highlight reel play and was a full display of some fantastic edge work/body positioning by Cam. No need to describe it further. See the videos below.
Ducks lead 2 to 1 heading into the second intermission.
The third period was uneventful from a goal scoring perspective. It was also a bit tame on the action front. The Coyotes rebounded from a poor second period by outshooting the Ducks 11 to 9. The teams ended up splitting the high danger chances at 1 to 1.
Perhaps the most significant lesson we learned from the third period, however, was the Ducks’ lack of “third period turtle”. The Coyotes turned it on since they were playing from behind and in past seasons, this would have lead to the Ducks sitting back and not losing the game versus playing to win it. This third period approach was a breathe of fresh air as the Ducks seemingly stuck to the same game plan they had all night.
This only changed in the final two minutes when the Coyotes pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. The Ducks seemed to change the lines up a bit so that more trusted guys were on the ice. We saw more of Ryan Getzlaf, Adam Henrique, and Jakob Silfverberg in the final moments of the game.
Though the Coyotes made their push, the Ducks did not cave and ended up getting their first victory of the 2019-20 as well as their first victory for head coach Dallas Eakins.
SOME NERD NUMBERS
Shots on Goal – ANA: 29 ARI: 33
5v5 CF% – ANA: 48.41% ARI: 51.59%
High Danger Chances For – ANA: 6 ARI: 8
Heat Map and Skate Score Card below
**All stats courtesy of naturalstattrick.com
**Score card courtesy of hockeystatcards.com
1A) Dallas Eakins - First win as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.
1B) John Gibson - First win of the season. Looked rock solid making 32 saves. Also played the puck a little more often and with a little more confidence.
2) Cam Fowler - Scored the beauty goal that ended up being the game winner. Posted an outstanding 67.44% 5v5 Corsi For.
3) Derek Grant - 4th line goals are huge, was second in total ice time behind Rickard Rakell and is still Elite.
The Ducks will play the San Jose Sharks at 7PM PST at Honda Center.