Date: Friday, March 29th, 2019
Time: 6:00 PM PT
Location: Scotiabank Saddledome, Vancouver BC
TV: Fox Sports Prime
Your Enemy: Matchsticks & Gasoline
Four games remaining. Just one more week. We’re so close to being done with one of the most difficult seasons in franchise history.
It’s been filled with both positives and negatives. Mostly negatives at first, but several positives at the end. And the Ducks will try to find some positives (depending on which side of Team Tank you’re on) with what little time they have left.
The recent winning stretch has pushed Anaheim (74 points) up from fifth-worst in the standings to seventh-worst, with the Buffalo Sabres (72 points) and New York Rangers (71 points) falling below them. These two teams are also the ones the Ducks can realistically slip back underneath.
That quest can begin tonight when the Ducks visit the Calgary Flames for the final time this season in the first of an Alberta back-to-back set of games. Going 6-3-0 over their last nine games but dropping their most recent two, the Flames will undoubtedly be looking to pull themselves together to avoid limping into the playoffs without any sort of momentum and confidence.
Johnny Gaudreau has become one of the handful of players every season that people blink twice and raise their eyebrows in surprise at how great of a year they’re having because no one has been talking about them. The Boston College alum leads the team with goals (35), assists (58), and points (93), already blowing past his career high.
Conversely, Mark Giordano has been heavily in the Norris Trophy conversation as the regular season winds down. While the Norris has frequently been awarded to the defenseman with the most points and throws, you know, actual defense out the window, Giordano has proven himself worthy on both sides of the puck. Add in the fact that we’re seeing this kind of performance from a 35-year-old, and you have the makings of a historic season.
Keys To The Game
93 points. Slippery. Fast. Extremely dangerous. Don’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to Gaudreau. He’s likely to put up at least one point on any given night, so the more effectively the Ducks can shut him down, the better chance they have.
Make due with what you have
With Jake Dotchin recalled to replace Josh Manson after suffering an upper-body injury against Vancouver on Tuesday, Nick Ritchie not on the trip, and Ryan Getzlaf questionable to play, the Ducks will need to come together and limit the effect of those losses.
Keep the kids together
The Kiefer Sherwood - Sam Steel - Troy Terry line did nothing but dominate on Tuesday in Vancouver. It felt like every shift they were on the verge of scoring; this almost isn’t an exaggeration. Keep those three together to continue building chemistry and to get a preview of a new and hopefully more exciting era of Ducks hockey coming next season.