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Ducks @ Oilers PREVIEW: One Last Road Game

Ducks conclude their final road trip of the season in Edmonton.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Game 80

Date: Saturday March 30th, 2019

Time: 6:00 PM PT

Location: Rogers Place Arena, Edmonton Alberta


Radio: AM830

It’s pretty wild to think that just two seasons ago these two teams were pitted against each other in a grueling 2nd round matchup of the Stanley Cup playoffs. One team relying on experience of past failures (aka a bunch of veterans) to get them through. The other team gleaming with potential, filled with youth, led by the best player in the world, tasting playoffs for the first time in a long time and expecting to be in this position for years to come. They’ll now be facing off for the final time this season, both well outside of playoff contention.

The Anaheim Ducks completely eliminated from playoff hopes, but hopeful with their retooling potential. It has been a difficult season to say the least. But most Ducks fans have come to terms with where the team is at and are buying into to a hopefully quick retool. Some of the veterans, whom couldn’t quite get things going to start the season, are not showing their abilities to lead by example. The young stars are showing great potential to become full time players next season which makes everyone happy. They have the opportunity to make some great picks/moves at the deadline and in the offseason. All in all, the year is ending much better than it began.

The Ducks have made it a habit this month of trading off wins and losses. We’ve seen moments the team shows how good they can be, and we’ve seen games where it becomes clearly exactly why they are where they are in the standings. But they’ve tempered it all enough to keep us slightly hopeful while staying low in the standings and secure a high draft pick.

The Edmonton Oilers are a completely different story in my opinion. They in fact still have the slightest glimmer of possibility to make playoffs, but falling short seems inevitable. They’ve gone 4-4-2 over their past 10 games and will a miracle to sneak in. When they do miss playoffs they’ll be left with gaping question marks about their future, other than McDavid and Draisaitl. I mean when was the last time a team had two players hit 100 points and still miss playoffs? Okay I looked it up and it took one Google search. It was the 1989-90 Penguins (Lemieux & Coffey). Ironically the Oilers won the cup that year.

Their CEO Bob Nicholson is not a well-liked man by the fans, especially after he seemingly tried to blame their non-playoff position on one player playing bottom-six minutes. They don’t have a general manager lined up and it must be maddening trying to find the right guy considering the last one crippled your franchise. It’s unlikely Ken Hitchcock returns as head coach with them not improving at all under his command. Finally, outside of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, this team is made up of scraps and terrible contracts.

Side note: I really feel bad for Oilers fans and Connor McDavid. They don’t deserve this. But I also enjoy bashing them and pointing out their flaws more than I should. This franchise is just comical.

Keys to the Game

Fend off McDavid and Draisaitl.

As stated, both of these guys have over 100 points and they play with virtually no help. That says something about how good these two are (mostly McDavid). If you shut down this line, I would almost guarantee you’ll get the win. Match them up with lines that’s only role is to play defense. Then let the “Kids” line flash more of their potential while John Gibson or Ryan Miller make more saves than they should need to.

Get any remaining (minor) injuries out of the way.

The Ducks have been cursed with injuries the last few seasons and it’s getting to be a little ridiculous. Yes some of them have some to players getting up there in age, but also a lot of the young guys have been taken out for extended periods of time (Gibson, Kase, Comtois, Rakell, etc.). Can we please begin next year with a full team? And can we just avoid the injury bug all together? Please take the victims you need now so they can be recover during the offseason. But stay away from the ducklings. They’re our precious future. That is all I ask.