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Ducks vs Golden Knights PREVIEW: Twas the Night Before the Deadline

The Ducks hosts Vegas before selling off everyone and everything for future assets

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game 62

Date: Sunday, February 23, 2020

Time: 7:00 PM PST

Location: Honda Center

TV: Prime Ticket

Radio: AM 830

Your Enemy: Knights on Ice

The Anaheim Ducks are set to play game three of a six-game homestand that has gone poorly to say the least thus far. After being blown out 4-1 by the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night, they were shut out in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche Friday night. Scoring just one goal in the first two games isn’t exactly ideal if you’re trying to prove to GM Bob Murray that you want to be a part of the Ducks future with the deadline looming tomorrow.

The Ducks will host the Vegas Golden Knights tonight, a team on a five-game win streak and a team that is 7-2-1 in their last 10. The Ducks have now lost three in a row and will try to salvage any value they can before Bob Murray inevitably moves at least a couple pieces out of Anaheim tomorrow in exchange for picks and prospects.

The Golden Knights have now moved into first place in the Pacific Division and are two points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks, so the Ducks can expect a team that is very hungry for a win and more points to separate them at the top of the division.

Players to Watch

The only players I’m keeping my eyes on tonight are the ones that can potentially increase their trade value the night before the big day. Guys like Michael Del Zotto and Derek Grant are all but guaranteed to be moved in exchange for whatever return they can yield from other GMs, but maybe someone like Josh Manson, Adam Henrique, Rickard Rakell, Nick Ritchie, or even Jakob Silfverberg can have one last hurrah with the Anaheim Ducks before being moved in a larger-scale trade. All in all, I do not expect the Ducks to win tonight given that they are a team struggling to get going offensively and are playing a red-hot team that can’t lose at the moment. However, I would love to see the Ducks play well and just focus on doing the little things right. One last look for each scout at potential acquisitions tomorrow could go a long way in a good performance against one of the league’s top teams.

Keys to the Game

Power Play - The Ducks power play looked downright abysmal against the Colorado Avalanche, along with the rest of the offense. Troy Terry and Max Jones were the only two Ducks skaters that I thought looked like they had a real chance to be a threat, and I would like to see them capitalize on a power play tonight at least once. And please, for the love of everything holy, stop dumping the puck in at the blue line on the power play. It doesn’t work.

Goaltending - It’s no surprise that John Gibson is a phenomenal goaltender and one of, if not, the best in the NHL. He had one of his best games of the season on Friday night against the Avs, and I think seeing another game like that from him can give all Ducks fans a chance to breathe a sigh of relief and know that the John Gibson of last year is still present and can still make the big saves when necessary.

Defensive Zone Structure - The defensive zone structure was also a point of emphasis in the game against Colorado, as the Ducks struggled to exit the zone cleanly on numerous occasions and relied on John Gibson to bail them out. The lone goal of the game came on a horrendous turnover by Hampus Lindholm in the defensive zone, and little details like that have to be cleaned up as soon as possible.