Date: Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
Time: 7:00 PM PST
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim
TV: Prime Ticket, FS-A, NHL.tv
Radio: AM 830
The Anaheim Ducks have finally returned to Honda Center for their first home game since January 9th. Although the All-Star break took a week off playing, and I’m sure most of the Ducks players were in Southern California, it’s still must feel pretty good to be able to play on home ice.
Unfortunately, we enter back into the realm of disappointing hockey, as the Ducks illustrated in the other night against the San Jose Sharks, allowing two goals in the first five minutes and showing just a complete lapse of defensive ability for most of the game. A reminder that this was against a team that is third-to-last in the western conference. The Ducks face an even tougher opponent tonight in the Arizona Coyotes.
The Coyotes, currently holding the first wild card spot in the West, are in a deadlock battle with three other Pacific teams. The Oilers, Flames, Coyotes, and Golden Knights all have 57 points on the season, only being separated by games played. Each game played is drastically going to affect where the teams place in the standings, altering from second place in the Pacific to the second wild card spot.
Arizona started the year struggling to find consistent scoring, but was carried heavily by their stellar goaltending (top five in the league for GA/G). In the last few weeks they’ve seemed to flip/flop a bit. They are finding ways to score three-plus goals in seven of their past ten games. However, their goaltending has been less than spectacular. Over the same ten games, the Coyotes have surrendered at least two goals in all but two games, and allowed three-plus goals in four out of the past six.
Keys to the Game
Get some scoring on the board: Even if the Ducks end up losing the game, this is a chance for them to take advantage of a shaky window of goaltending and get some guys on the team scoring goals. It would be great for players like Adam Henrique or Sam Steel to get a little fire going and use this game to rip off a string of offensive games. Or allow Troy Terry and Nick Ritchie to get more into the groove of things after injury and pick up the offense. Anaheim sits 30th in goals for per game (2.45), so really any offense would help.
Maybe don’t give pucks away in your zone and in front of the net: With the aforementioned scoring the Coyotes are getting, the Ducks turning the puck over in their own zone like they were doing against the Sharks will become a quick strike for Arizona. They aren’t going to keep Arizona off the scoresheet (unless Gibson does his thing), but just avoiding the stupid plays in their defensive zone will make a big difference. Especially since it means Gibson doesn’t have to lose his mind wondering how to get traded to a team that will defend for him.
(I know, crazy idea right.. get some offense and play some defense and you might win.)
All Eyes on Me
Ondrej Kase continues to quietly amaze hockey fans. Ducks fans are much more aware of his talents, but he’s got to be one of the better players that hasn’t even put up 40 points in a season yet. He scored a beautiful short-handed goal against the Sharks, and hopefully can put a few more points on the board against the Coyotes.
Antti Raanta has been really good this year, but he’s taken a step back after struggling the last few games. He’s obviously looking to bounce back and get into a groove coming out of the All-Star break. His play will have a huge outcome on how the Ducks contend tonight.