Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Down 2-0?

The downside to being the solo blog voice for the Ducks is that sometimes you have nothing to offer. Case in point, I have just returned to my house for the first time since Friday morning, and the Mighty Ducks are trailing the Oilers 2-0 going back to Edmonton. I haven't seen a lick of G2 and only have a drunken perspective on G1, so I'll just take someone's word on what's going on rather than check the tapes. (I'll warn you ahead of time also that I won't be catching all of G4.)

The situation we are in is critical, no doubt, and could be even more dire after game 3. In the opponent's building, down-and-out, with nobody giving us a chance.

Actually, it sounds kind of familiar, like a movie I once saw. The Mighty Ducks.

If this truly is to be the send-off performance for the franchise name, let's try to end it with the same fight-back spirit that the film embodied. Let's be that downtrodden team that pulls its shit together in the lion's mouth in the zero-hour. The cast-offs. The ridiculed.

Common sense says you're beaten, Ducks. The first half of the script is written.

How is this movie going to end, boys?


Doogie2K said...

When you're drawing on a Disney hockey movie for inspiration, it's offically all over.

mike w said...

Earl, I have to ask: are you born/raised Californian hockey fan or are you from Canada?

Just curious.

I'm thinking Teemu will play alot better in Game 3.

Earl Sleek said...

Earl, I have to ask: are you born/raised Californian hockey fan or are you from Canada?

I'm from California, and have never played hockey in my life.

I love Canada, though. In '03 two buddies of mine took a trip to Vancouver and caught two games there. Great fun.

mike w said...

>I'm from California

Rock on. It's refreshing to see southern hockey bloggers not from Canada. Nice site, along with a tip of the foam finger to Mr. Mirtle.

Now if only OLN was readily available to US viewers, we'd be cooking with gas!

Earl Sleek said...

Now if only OLN was readily available to US viewers, we'd be cooking with gas!

I am starting to think that OLN is almost a blessing to the NHL's PR staff. It can blame low ratings on limited availability and ignore the fact that the Ducks and Oil have pretty much thrown two stinkers out there to start the WCF.

Had these games been on ESPN, I don't think ratings would be improved, and then the NHL would have to re-visit what exciting hockey is and how to properly encourage that type of play.

Thank goodness I have some stake in these games, else I might call it crappy hockey. Thank goodness not many other people are watching, either, I guess. They might be less generous.

Anonymous said...

I'll agree that the situation is looking dire at this point, but after watching Edmonton win and win again, I think I've finally figured this out, and hopefully Carlyle has as well.

First, when I was watching the Sharks series, it seemed that they had their best success by dumping the puck in and bringing a ferocious forecheck in an attempt to get the Oilers to turn the puck over. As the series wore on, they seemed to get more frustrated in their inability to score more and then got away from that style and started taking more chances that created more opportunities for the Oilers which they always seemed to convert.

Which was true. To a point. The Ducks have been taking a similar approach to the Sharks in the first two games, but instead of winning 2-1, they've ended up on the short end of the stick. While the one goal they did score last night was exactly because of a good forecheck that cause a turnover, I've come to the conclusion that this strategy also has its limits. For one, I think Edmonton is more than content to play most of the game in their own zone. It's almost like they've taken the neutral zone trap idea and moved it to the goal slot. Rope-a-dope hockey. Let the other team just try and work the puck inside for a good chance and let them get frustrated while every pass and shot gets blocked and when it doesn't, Roloson makes a save. Let them punch themselves out. In other words, I think they WANT teams to try and forecheck them into submission. At some point the frustration makes teams take dumb risks that create more opportunities and then it's all over.

So I think an adjustment needs to be made. The Ducks have to get out of playing most of the game in Edmonton's zone. That's the game the Oilers want to play. The game needs to start moving up and down the rink, possibly creating some odd-man chances. Instead of forechecking hard, they should start using a similar counter-punching strategy that Edmonton is. The Ducks need to be able to create opportunities in transition and not let Edmonton get three defenders firmly camped out in front of Roloson.

Just a thought.

-Bandwagon Ducks Fan

Earl Sleek said...

The Ducks have to get out of playing most of the game in Edmonton's zone.

I will be reviewing some G1 and G2 DVR footage tonight, but honestly, I'm not sure if this is right.

I get what you're saying in that it hasn't worked, but I don't feel like we were very far away from being a 1-1 or 2-0 series.

I was at G1, and generally the thing that stuck out at me was the Ducks were playing positionally well, but just not catching passes that needed to be caught. Not lazy, but not sharp either.

I guess what I'm saying is I think we can overcome Edmonton's game by executing the gameplan better, not by necessarily taking a new approach. Again, I need to see more of the play though.

Anonymous said...

I don't know for sure, but I thought the same thing while watching the Sharks bang their heads against the wall trying to crack Edmonton's defense and it's all starting to look very similar. The Oilers will let you grind in the corners and move the puck around the perimeter all you want, but within the actual scoring zone, there's just no real space to operate once they get set up in their own zone. You can't pass into or across the slot because it will get deflected, blocked or picked off and shots from the perimeter often have the same fate. The shots that do get through just aren't great chances (unless you're Kunitz).

I agree that the Ducks have seemed to be outplaying the Oilers and you think that eventually this pressure is going to crack the Oilers' defense, but it never does, and like I said it looks eerily similar to what happened to the Sharks. Red Wings, too. Teams punch themselves out trying to score in the offensive zone, and then the Oilers catch a guy leaning the wrong way and they get a 3-2 rush and after ten minutes in the Oilers zone, they come down and score in 15 seconds.

Compare these two comments:
"It was a better effort than we had the other night, and we have to find a way to change the momentum," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We maintained a fairly good puck possession for periods of time, but we didn't find a way to get the puck inside often enough."
-Randy Carlyle after last night

"We didn't drive to the net at all. We played on the perimeter. We'll bounce back. We've been a resilient team all along."
-Ron Wilson after Game 3, Oilers-Sharks

After 2.5 rounds of watching both teams, I honestly think that Edmonton WANTS to play most of the game in their own zone as a sort of rope-a-dope strategy. And while it seems like the Duck could have won either game, they didn't. When you review the games, watch how they work the puck around the perimeter and once the Oilers get set up they have the slot pretty clogged up and how difficult it is to get a good shot off that gets through to the net. To use a basketball analogy, they've got great halfcourt defense and I just haven't seen any teams get great scoring chances against the Oilers playing a halfcourt game, even on the powerplay. Maybe they don't need to completely change their strategy, but some kind of adjustment is definitely in order. I do think the Ducks can still pull this out, and I do like that they haven't seem to let their frustration get the better of them yet. But obviously, they've gotta figure out a way to break through by tomorrow or it's going to be all over but the crying.

-Bandwagon Ducks Fan