Date: Friday, January 31st, 2020
Time: 7:00 PM PST
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim
TV: Prime Ticket, NHL.tv
Radio: AM 830
Can you believe we’re done with 50 games this season? It hasn’t been the easiest season to watch, and yes the Ducks are still one of the bottom teams of the league, but they did show a bit of life in their matchup against the Coyotes. It was a game that had a little bit of everything: flashy passing to set up goals, even flashier saves by John Gibson, and even Nick Ritchie taking bad penalties.
It was a positive game nonetheless for the Ducks who were desperate to find some scoring and a bit more consistency on defense. Ondrej Kase continues to show the talent he possesses and Adam Henrique was able to find the back of the night twice, both welcoming sites for Ducks fans. There were opportunities generated throughout the lineup. The Ducks even scored a short-handed goal, which makes back-to-back games with a shorty. Even better than all of that, John Gibson was playing out of his mind (minus a minor hiccup on the second goal). He committed a crime by robbing Derek Stepan on a breakaway and looked excellent turning aside 25 shots put on by the Coyotes.
Let’s just say it was the most entertained I’ve been watching a Ducks game in some time. However, they’ll need to find that same type of play again as they get ready to face one of the hotter teams in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After starting the year at an abysmal pace, the Lightning finally found their spark and have been tearing up the league as they’ve climbed from out of the playoffs all the way into second place in the Atlantic division. Over their last fifteen games they’ve gone 12-2-1, scoring at least four goals in eight of those games. They’re beginning to look like the Lightning team from last year. You know, the one that was historically unstoppable in the regular season and then got swept in the playoffs.
Keys to the Game
Stop the top line, if you can: You don’t need much explanation when you hear the names Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. They are offensive juggernauts and they play on the same line (and powerplay). Throw Brayden Point, a rising talent, in the middle of them and you have an absolute force. Kind of like being caught in a lightning storm.
They’re going to get chances. The goal would be to limit those chances as much as possible. I would be putting Hampus Lindholm on the ice whenever that line is out and making sure the Ducks don’t get caught playing too many men up. Any sort of rush for this line is going to cause issues.
Win the special teams: Anaheim has to play composed and avoid the bad penalties, something they aren’t fantastic at. The Lightning are second in the league on the man advantage (26.5%) so it’s not going to take many mistakes/penalties for Tampa to convert.
The Ducks need to stay composed (looking at you Ritchie) and win the special teams battle. The Lightning are sixth in the league on the penalty kill (83%, not promising) but are still going to be most susceptible while down a man.
If all else fails I guess just hope the Ducks can pull another short-handed goal out of thin air.
All Eyes on Me
Let’s ride the hot train. Ondrej Kase had a filthy assist against the Coyotes and he’s going to do everything he can to set up some more chances for the Ducks. He has a more favorable matchup on the second line so I imagine he’ll get some opportunites.
Once again, take your pick of Kucherov or Stamkos. Leave either uncovered and you’ll most likely see the puck in the back of the net. They are just dynamite, with 58 and 53 points respectively. I suspect both of them will get on the scoresheet at least once.