Phoenix Coyotes (2-5-0, t-14th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (4-6-1, t-9th in west)
(includes games where a player was unavailable to finish the game)
Well, it hasn't been the best start to the season for the champion Ducks, who between travel and injury have been reduced for the most part to a rather mediocre squad. I'm still unsure how a fully-iced Ducks squad figures to perform this year, and from the sounds of things, I don't think I'll be finding out anytime soon.
Since Bertuzzi went down early in the Minnesota game, though, it's been especially thin for the Anaheim power play. Coach Carlyle in the face of a limited roster has been loading up talent on the first power play unit, but then filling the second unit with his penalty killing personnel. The table below shows five players who, despite not playing hardly any power play time last season, have put in some serious PP minutes the last six games.
The New Power Players
Games Played Last Year
Total PP TOI Last Year
Avg PP TOI Last Year
Games Played Last 6 gms
Total PP TOI Last 6 gms
Avg PP TOI Last 6 gms
Pct Increase from LY Avg
Season High PP TOI
Pct Increase from LY Avg
Thus far the five have combined for one power play assist (Sammy, of course), but I'm not going to knock their efforts; it's really not their gig. Anaheim's checking forwards are a special bunch, for sure, but their contributions aren't really on the ANA portion of the scoreboard. The fact that these checkers are getting such decent power play time really begs the question, though: why isn't Bobby Ryan cracking the lineup right now, even for an emergency special-teams-only engagement? Those are minutes where an offensive player could make an impact and prevent Anaheim's penalty-killers from being exhausted from unproductive power play time.
The checking line just aren't suited to be power play personnel, no matter how much ice time Carlyle insists on giving them. He may as well glue nail clippings to his lip and wait until it becomes a moustache.
Anyways, Phoenix is in town tonight for the first of eight on the season, and I'm not quite sure if that's a good thing. Since the lockout, the Ducks have used the Desert Dogs as a steady source of standings points; in sixteen games the Ducks are a whopping 13-2-1. A huge factor here is that in those 16 games, the Ducks' power play has produced 23 goals while the Coyotes' power play has produced only 8. The two points seem attainable enough, but with Anaheim's decidedly mediocre power play and overall sketchy lineup, it's not nearly as in the bag as it could be. (For the 'Yote angle, check out PB's take at One Fan's Perspective.)
Still, I've managed to come up with a saying that's annoyingly helpful in putting it all in perspective. As discouraging as the first eleven games of the 07-08 season have been, it's still the best twelve game stretch in team history (counting the last game last year, of course). Complacency will be the death of me, I guess.
Prediction: Phoenix donates two points to Anaheim's playoff drive yet again; Ducks 5, Coyotes 2. Goals by King, Wirtanen, Perry, Hnidy, and an ill-advised PPG by Pahlsson.