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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ducks Gameday—Prongerless Teams Collide

Anaheim Ducks (30-10-8, 1st in west) at Edmonton Oilers (22-20-4, 10th in west)

For the first time in a while, I had to check to make sure the Ducks were still in first place, and at least for another day, it holds true. But the team is a mess, and you gotta think that the team is toast until any one of Giguere / Pronger / Beauchemin returns.

If it can hold together that long. The thing is, Coach Carlyle seems to have acquired an unhealthy appetite for Scott-ch.

That is, Scott-ch Niedermayer. In the eight games since Pronger’s foot crumbled, the captain has played 34+ minutes three times. To put that in perspective, the franchise record for minutes in a game used to be 33, set earlier this year by Chris Pronger, before SNieds THRICE shattered it.

Carlyle’s like a kid trying to break his sturdiest toy: in those 8 games, Scott has played 42% of the even-strength minutes, 63% of the shorthanded minutes, and 82% of the power play minutes, in all averaging to more than 30 minutes a game.

The only two games in the stretch where SN did not play at least 48% of game time were at Dallas and vs. St. Louis, the two “blowouts”. In the other six games, he's got an average of more than 32 ½ minutes per game!

Now don’t get me wrong, I'm happy with his increased production (2-8-10 in those 8 games, now leads the league in d-man scoring), and I’m not exactly thrilled to see an opposing forward cross the blueline and see the likes of Kent Huskins or Ric Jackman defending, but there’s a limit to how much Scott Niedermayer should be used on a first-place team in early January (hint: conservatively!).

I’m reminded of the stretch before Christmas where the Ducks played 6 games in 6 cities in 11 days (including two back-to-backs), and much to my surprise, Giguere started all of them. A week later, predictably enough, he was injured, and the team has been in a tailspin ever since. Seemed like a lot of overkill then, and seems like a lot of overkill now.

Here’s hoping that Carlyle lays off the Scott-ch a little more this week, especially in the even more meaningless all-star game.

Prediction: Ducks 4, Oilers 2. (C’mon, they still might be playing like Sucks, but I’m not about to predict a loss!) Goals by Teemu, Pahlsson, Getzlaf, and Marchant.

[EDIT: Some of the usual Oil sources chime in: Battle of Alberta, Lowetide, Real Deal Hockey.]


Limey said...

Nieds against St. Louis:
0-0-0 -5

Outside the box score, he was out of position alot more that I'm accustomed to seeing him. He might be wearing down already. Or it just might have been a bad game.

Beyond Niedermayer the team defense has gone to pot which puts even more pressure on the already shaky D situation.

Better in January than June, I guess.

VeryProudofYa said...

Also, some of the bounces haven't been going their way.

Like tonight, unfortunate shot off the crossbar for getzzy, penner missing the open net. Both ended up not even being counted as shots on net. Then, later in the game they had one go against them. Though it wasn't really a bounce, the pass that lead to the fourth goal wouldn't have been completed 99 times out of 100.

Not to take anything away from the oilers, though. They played a pretty good game and Rolly was solid the whole night.

But, really, as the carousel of bounces turns, one can only hope it swings around to the sunny side for the ducks during the playoffs. Until then, I'll cry into my pillow.