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Ducks @ Coyotes PREVIEW: Howl at the Moon

The Coyotes present an interesting challenge for a Ducks team with renewed confidence.

Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 26

Date: Wednesday November 27th, 2019

Time: 6:30 PM Pacific

Location: Gila River Arena

TV: Prime Ticket

Radio: AM 830

The Anaheim Ducks will embark on a brief out-and-back road trip tonight to take on the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale before returning home for the annual Black Friday Honda Center matchup.

The Coyotes skaters have not played well at all over their last ten games and as such, much like the Ducks, are having a lot of trouble finding the back of the net with regularity. However, they have gone 5-4-1 in their last 10 games primarily due to outstanding goaltending performances by both Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper with a combined save percentage of .933.

The biggest part of Arizona’s offense so far this season has been center Nick Schmaltz, who is proving to general manager John Chayka that last year’s trade that brought him to the desert in exchange for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini that sometimes computer boys are right. It certainly helps that his two wingers are Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel, with those two tied for second in points on the team.

While this team has just as many scoring issues as the Ducks, they are still a very fast team that can be dangerous off the rush if given enough space and time. Anaheim might do well to play a little more conservatively on the back-end so as to not let John Gibson face breakaway chances.

Speaking of Gibson, the number one netminder for the Ducks should be back in net tonight after a statement performance against the New York Islanders, shutting out one of the NHL’s hottest teams after a string of less-than-great turns.

This game is a winnable one, much like the one against the Islanders. Their last several games have been a black-hole of shot generation and offense, with their record being primarily carried by hot goaltending. This was the exact same scenario Anaheim faced against the boys from Long Island, so expect them to be competitive at the very least.

Keys To The Game

Limit odd-man rushes: This is a young and speedy team. While this isn’t the lumbering Ducks of old, they are still not exactly the fastest team in the league, and their defense still has plenty of question marks. The blue liners playing it safe and limiting activation for scoring chances should be used sparingly and in the right places in order to avoid succumbing to stretch breakout passes. Gibson’s most significant weakness as a goaltender is one-on-one situations, so it would help a lot if the Ducks didn’t allow the Coyotes any of those kinds of chances.

Quick breakouts: One of the things the Ducks did well earlier in the season but have since slipped on is fast breakouts. There has been much more playing catch in the defensive zone and skating it behind the net to regroup than there has been opening breakout lanes to put the defense on their heels. This is an area that both Dallas Eakins and Bob Murray identified as issues they wanted to improve upon last year. And while they did just that at the beginning of the year, those moments have been more sparse as of late.

It’s no doubt that not having Josh Manson is part of the issue here, but having Hampus Lindholm back in the lineup could help Anaheim begin to execute those breakouts quicker moving forward.

Grip it and rip it: Anyone with eyes can tell that the Coyotes are winning games because of their goaltending right now. They are giving up the most shot attempts in the league this season (just ahead of the Ducks), so their defense isn’t exactly stingy, especially with their best shutdown blueliner, Niklas Hjalmarsson out with a cracked fibula. Shot quality is important (and Arizona is giving up the third most scoring chances in the league), but as evidenced by Ryan Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase on Monday, just getting the puck on net can pay off.

Keep it simple and if you have a shooting lane, grip it and rip it. Make the goalie work.