Date: Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
Time: 4:00 PST / 7:00 EST
Location: Bell MTS Place
TV: SN360, SNW, FS-W
Your Enemy: Arctic Ice Hockey
The Anaheim Ducks are returning from their nine day break, and it seems to have come at a fantastic time for the team. Coming back from the break with a well-rested team and potentially some new faces that we have not seen yet this season (#PerryIsStillGood), this next week or two will determine the Ducks’ path for the remainder of the season.
As absolutely horrendous as the Ducks have been in the last month and a half, and losers of 14 out of their last 16 games, they still find themselves only one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for a Wild Card spot. We could go down the debate road of whether or not it’s better for the Ducks to pull a Wild Card spot this year, keep the postseason streak alive, and roll the dice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where anything can happen. Or if they should pack it in for the season and try to land one of those top two draft picks, but we’ll save that conversation for another time.
The end of the break will not give the Ducks an easy entrance back into the schedule, as they are in Manitoba to take on the Winnipeg Jets, the leaders of the Central Division and second place overall in the Western Conference.
Coming off a performance in which the Ducks only mustered 13 shots on goal in a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, it will be very interesting to see how a well-rested squad will handle a high-powered offense like the Winnipeg Jets.
Player to Watch
The player I will be keeping an eye on (or out for) in this game is Corey Perry. Perry has yet to play in a game this year, but his removal from IR yesterday signals to me that this game should be his season debut with the Ducks. If he is able to come in and, at the very least, drive the team into the offensive zone to generate chances, I will call it a massive success. Randy Carlyle has been shuffling line combinations to try to find anything that will get some shots directed toward the opposing goal, but so far, only the KES line (Kids’ Elite Scoring) line with Derek Grant, Troy Terry, and Max Jones has been getting any kind of offensive output. If Corey Perry can show that there is still some life in his legs and some production to be had as a goal scorer, the Ducks can breathe a huge sigh of relief looking to next season.
Keys to the Game
Shoot the Puck - 13 shots on goal against the Blues obviously was not going get the job done. Let’s try to get at least 25 shots on goal this time around. Baby steps.
John Gibson - Gibson has been the only reason the Ducks have won more than ten games this season, and he’ll of course be a main factor moving through the final two months of the season.
Patrik Laine - Try not to let Patrik Laine have any open looks, because, you know, it’s Patrik Laine.