Date: Thursday November 21st, 2019
Time: 4:00 PM Pacific
Location: BB&T Center
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Litter Box Cats
The Ducks head into the second half of their four-game road trip having split the first two matches, winning against the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues but falling to the league leading Washington Capitals.
The Florida Panthers entered the season with a new goaltender and a new head coach, spending primo cash on former Vezina-winner Sergei Bobvrovsky (7 years, $10 million AAV, per CapFriendly) and landing arguably the best available head coach on the market in former Blackhawks skipper Joel Queneville. Led by a lethal top line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexsander Barkov, and Evgenii Dadonov, the Panthers have won four of their last five games and currently sit in second place in the Atlantic division.
The Panthers don’t figure to be a much easier opponent than the Capitals. Ranking second in the NHL in goals per game (only 0.1 behind Washington) and rank fourth on the power play. It doesn’t matter who starts tonight between John Gibson and Ryan Miller, they will likely be called upon to steal this game in net.
The Ducks, meanwhile, have been on the opposite road. Dropping four of their last five and with only one win over the past two weeks, Anaheim seems to have no answers on the defensive side of the puck. It’s not like this is the most surprising revelation in the world given the absence of Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson. Until one or both return to the lineup, being outshot and outchanced will unfortunately be the norm for the time being.
The good news is that the top line of Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique, and Jakob Silfverberg continues to produce while Max Jones seems to be getting better looks and more chances, especially after being paired with Ryan Getzlaf.
Keys to the Game
Focus on the first line – The majority of the Panthers offense comes from their top line. There is a fairly significant drop off in scoring after these stars, so if the Ducks can limit their chances, they should at least have a chance to win. Obviously this is easier said than done, but with the right game plan, it’s not impossible.
Don’t take penalties for once in your life – This is probably way too much to ask, but it would be great if the Ducks could stay out of the box. Florida has the fourth ranked power play in the league, mostly due to their top line and the quarterbacking skills of Keith Yandle. They’re a good, but not great team at 5-on-5. Even with the Ducks issues on defense, even strength is much more manageable.
Steal the game in net – It’s pretty clear this season that the Ducks overall success is going to be tied to goaltending. They don’t have enough scoring power to win games on goals alone, and the defense’s issues have been written into the ground. Luckily, Anaheim has two goaltenders who can almost single-handedly win them games on a night to night basis. Though they haven’t been doing that as much as we’re used to lately, the capability is still there.