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Ducks @ Golden Knights PREVIEW: Noon Game Before Midnight Celebration

Anaheim ends the 2019 calendar year with a trip to Vegas and a noon matchup against the Golden Knights.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Game 40

Date: Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Time: 12:00 PM PT

Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas NV

TV: AT&T SportsNet, NHLTV

Radio: AM 830

It’s December 31st, and everyone is gearing up to get together with family and friends to celebrate the turn of yet another year. Some will look back on the year they’ve had, some will talk about the year they’re about to have, most people just use the day as an excuse to get drunk.

The Anaheim Ducks will be flipping the page of a trying year. They missed playoffs and finished their lowest in the standings since the 2011/12 season. Reaching the half way point, things haven’t got much better as the Ducks sit 13th in the Western Conference and 27th in the league.

However, there are brighter times on the horizon. They had a great draft in the offseason and their young talent is showing glimpses of what’s to come for the team. They aren’t looking to make a playoff run, but instead focused on improving internally and acquiring even more tools in the next draft when they get another high pick. It’s not always easy to watch games as Ducks fans, but we can be hopeful the young talent takes strides in becoming more NHL-proven and more young talent is on the way.

This is why the Ducks perfectly executed a trip to Las Vegas on New Years Eve. So they could maybe win a game against the Knights who they beat just a few days ago, but more importantly, celebrate their future and get blackout drunk in Sin City.

The Golden Knights sit atop the Pacific Division and do have a need to win games. They have the Canucks and the Coyotes at their heels in the standings. They also have aspirations of making another deep playoff run. They certainly have the firepower to do it with the likes of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Jonathan Marchessault. They fell just short of the Ducks last meeting, while still outshooting them. They’ll stand a good chance of getting even on their home ice tonight.

Keys to the Game

Strong first period too control the tempo. With Vegas getting home ice and having more talent, it’s going to be up to the Ducks to get control of the tempo and not let Vegas run away with the shot attempts in the first period. If Anaheim gets hemmed inside their zone a bunch to start the game, the Knights could simply run away with the game. Sure the Ducks had a strong second period in their last meeting with the Ducks, but I don’t see an opportunistic double minor, followed by 3 goals in 90 seconds happening again.

Stop the second line. Pacioretty and Stone lead the Knights with 40 and 39 points, respectively. They’re also one and two in goals for the team. Oh, and they happen to be playing on the same line. You can see where I’m going with this. They dominate play and stopping that line would take a ton of pressure off the Ducks netminder.

Players to Watch

Mark Stone may be the best player on the Knights, but Max Pacioretty has been tremendous for the Knights this year. After putting up just 40 points for the Knights last season, he’s already matched that output before the halfway mark and is on pace for the highest point output of his career.

For the Ducks, it’s obviously Trevor Zegras. So what if he’s not currently on the team. Go turn on the World Juniors and watch this kid dominate. He’s leading the tournament with 9 assists (all primary). And his latest assist was INSANE!

Wait, what was I talking about.. oh yeah. Go Ducks.