Date: Sunday, December 8, 2019
Time: 12:00 PM Pacific
Location: Bell MTS Place
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Arctic Ice Hockey
The Anaheim Ducks are coming off of a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, a game that the Ducks controlled a large majority of but saw slip away after a mistake in the third period cost them the game.
The Winnipeg Jets are in a similar boat, coming off a 3-2 overtime loss at the hands of the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. The Jets dominated the 3rd period in that game, and rallied to turn a 2-0 deficit after 40 minutes into a game that was bound for extra time. Unfortunately for them, the Stars recovered and Joe Pavelski was able to tally a power play goal to give the Stars the extra point.
The Jets find themselves in the first Wild Card spot just a single point behind the Dallas Stars for 3rd in the Central Division, and despite the fact that the playoffs are a long way off in the future, the Jets are no doubt looking at today’s game as a good chance to get themselves two points and move into the top 3 in their division.
The Ducks will need to be aware of where Patrik Laine is on the ice at all times, as is the case any time an opponent matches up against the Winnipeg Jets. The Ducks will also be without Nick Ritchie, who sustained a leg injury in the Ducks’ loss against the Washington Capitals, and that removes a physical presence from Anaheim and a presence that they could use in a game like this. Ritchie sustained a sprained MCL, which is the same injury that Josh Manson sustained. Manson is not expected to be back for today’s game against Winnipeg but he may return for Tuesday’s game, and Ducks fans can expect to see Nick Ritchie back sometime in February.
The Ducks currently sit second-to-last in the Western Conference, ahead of only the Los Angeles Kings, so really, there always is a silver lining. In reality, the Ducks know that if they want to keep themselves alive for any kind of push for a playoff appearance come spring, they need to work hard now to win games and stash some points in the standings, so as to not fall too far behind going into the New Year.
I have stated before and will say again that I firmly believe the Ducks are a team that is poised to make a strong second half run through the 2019-20 regular season and make a push toward a Wild Card spot. I think the team is starting to find some chemistry and rhythm with line combinations, and the special teams units are getting the chances to work out the kinks and find their own grooves.
The skill is there on the roster and the team just seems to be lacking the “finish” to get the points that seemingly continue to slip away in close games like the one against Washington. The Ducks 3-0 loss to these Winnipeg Jets just nine days ago was the first time this season that the Ducks have been shut out in a game. No doubt Anaheim will be looking to make amends for that contest and have a performance similar to their first against the Jets, a game that they won 7-4.
Players to Watch
I will be keeping my eye on Troy Terry in this game, particularly on the power play. The Ducks power play looked significantly better than it had in the past against the Capitals, and the Ducks were able to move the puck with much more efficiency. The power play finished the game 0-for-3, but that did not come without good looks on net and some timely saves from Braden Holtby. Troy Terry is a natural shooter and has an eye for the net, so I expect the Ducks to try to feed him when they have a man advantage.
The Jets have only given up six goals in regulation over their last five games, so the Ducks will need to convert on any opportunities they are presented with. Connor Hellebuyck has been lights out over the last couple weeks and that is who the Ducks will most likely be seeing between the pipes.
Keys to the Game
Stay out of the box - The Winnipeg Jets have a power play that is ranked as only the 27th in the league at 14.9%, but the danger of a lethal power play is not the reason that the Ducks need to stay out of the box. When your offense is struggling and you are going up against a team that has only allowed six goals in regulation in their last five games, you would be wise to not spend more minutes than necessary shorthanded in that game.
Shoot the puck (looking at you Ryan Getzlaf) - The Ducks struggle to score goals. This is news to nobody at this point. The Ducks captain has led the way in points once again this season, with 10 goals and 13 assists so far this season. His 10 goals tie him for the team lead with noted lazy man Jakob Silfverberg. The captain needs to shoot the puck when he is given the opportunity to do so.
Goaltending - The Ducks are not used to have goaltending issues, and while their goaltending has not been subpar by any means, it has not been the superhuman goaltending duo that they have become accustomed to over recent seasons. John Gibson and Ryan Miller are both above average goaltenders, and the Ducks need to find ways to score to give these two a break from the pressure of winning low-scoring games.
Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Patrik Laine
Nikolaj Ehlers - Blake Wheeler - Jack Roslovic
Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Mathieu Perreault
Joona Luoto - Nick Shore - Logan Shaw
Josh Morrissey - Tucker Poolman
Luca Sbisa - Neal Pionk
Anthony Bitetto - Nathan Beaulieu
Devin Shore - Ryan Getzlaf - Troy Terry
Rickard Rakell - Sam Steel - Jakob Silfverberg
Max Comtois - Adam Henrique - Ondrej Kase
Nicolas Deslauriers - Derek Grant - Carter Rowney
Josh Mahura - Hampus Lindholm
Cam Fowler - Erik Gudbranson
Michael Del Zotto - Korbinian Holzer