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Ducks vs Oilers PREVIEW: New Ducks, Who Dis?

The Ducks begin their Stanley Cup march by hosting the Edmonton Oilers

NHL: Dallas Stars at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Game 63

Date: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Time: 7:00 PM PST

Location: Honda Center

TV: Prime Ticket

Radio: AM 830

Your Enemy: Copper n Blue

Well, the trade deadline is behind us. The dust has settled and there are some new faces on the Ducks roster, along with some familiar faces missing. You can check out all of the moves that the Ducks made at the deadline here, so let’s dig in and get ready for some new beginnings for the Anaheim Ducks through the final 20 games of this 2019-20 regular season.

The Ducks will try out their slightly altered roster against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, who made a few changes of their own. Most notably, the Oilers came away with Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators and Andreas Athanasiou from the Detroit Red Wings. Pairing Athanasiou alongside McDavid should be labeled as a crime by the National Hockey League, and hopefully we can get the Anaheim Police Department involved should they try it.

The Oilers are currently in 2nd in the Pacific Division behind the surging Vegas Golden Knights, and despite only being three points behind, they will have their work cut out for them if they are going to have a chance at a Pacific Division title this season. The Oilers do have two games in hand, making this game against Anaheim a critical one for their late season push.

The Ducks are more focused on improvement and fine tuning the details in the system they are learning to play, so winning this game is not the main focus. If they can generate two or three goals off a rush from the defensive zone, then they may call this a success, despite what the final score shows. Additional moves will be made in the offseason to continue getting the roster into the rebuild it requires, but for now, the Ducks need to find themselves and their identity with what they’ve got.

Players to Watch

The obvious choices here are any of the newly acquired Ducks players that make the lineup for tomorrow night’s game. A new player’s debut sparks hope anew for the future of the franchise, and while the concern of the Ducks lacking elite-level talent remains for now, perhaps temporary relief can be found through the likes of Danton Heinen, Sonny Milano, or even a surprise story like Andrew Agozzino, who was claimed off waivers by the Ducks from the Pittsburgh Penguins. I am curious to see how Dallas Eakins chooses to utilize his new options, particularly on special teams.

Keys to the Game

Connor McDavid - Don’t really feel like this one needs too much explanation. Hard to win against Edmonton if Connor McDavid isn’t accounted for and contained. He can and will score five goals in the game if you give him the opportunities. Nick Ritchie isn’t around anymore to give the Oilers needless power play opportunities, so hopefully McDavid doesn’t get too many looks on the man advantage.

Chemistry - Working new pieces into a lineup is rarely a smooth transition. If the newly acquired Ducks are going to become mainstays in the lineup and not short-term rentals that get sold off in the offseason or at next year’s deadline, it is imperative that they find a spark of chemistry with their linemates in Anaheim.

Goaltending - This will be the ultimate key to this game, and the only one in which Anaheim holds a real advantage. Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen are not world-beaters, and despite the Ducks’ struggles on offense, they are coming off a five-goal performance against the Vegas Golden Knights and have the opportunity to keep that ball rolling against a team known for conceding goals.