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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ducks Gameday—Optimism, thy name is Schneidermayer

Columbus Blue Jackets (7-3-1, t-3rd in west) at Anaheim Ducks (4-7-2, t-11th in west)

For those of you Duck fans who are not taking the time to read Ducks Wire, I’d highly encourage it. It’s a great way to keep tabs on the latest Duck headlines, sort of a Kukla’s Korner for Anaheim and Portland news (better than waiting for me to become a credible news source). Anyway, if we believe the latest reports from practice, the Ducks are likely to have Rob Niedermayer, Ryan Getzlaf, and finally Mathieu Schneider in the lineup tonight. If so, this really figures to be the most complete lineup the Ducks have dressed all season—really the only missing piece (under non-suspended contract) is the concussion-stricken Bertuzzi.

(By the way, I'm not really sure what I meant to do with that picture on the right. Something about Niedermayer being Schneider's internal voice, a la Obi Wan Kenobi with young Luke, but it's not the most self-evident graphic I've ever made.)

I know my Ducks writing of late has been pretty pessimistic in nature, so I thought today I'd talk about one positive about the Ducks' crummy start to the season: at least it didn't happen last year. To illustrate, here's the 5 Pacific teams and their start thus far, along with how they started last season in the same number of games:

1. San Jose Sharks 12 GP, 6-5-1 (.542), 13 pts. 29 GF, 28 GA. PP 17.5%, PK 88.1%
Start of Last Year 12 GP 8-4-0 (.667), 16 pts. 40 GF, 28 GA. PP 28.0%, PK 85.9%
Key Metrics: Pts down 19%, GF down 28%, GA even, PP down 11%, PK up 2%

2. Dallas Stars 12 GP, 5-5-2 (.500), 12 pts. 33 GF, 33 GA. PP 19.2%, PK 87.0%
Start of Last Year 12 GP, 10-2-0 (.833), 20 pts. 38 GF, 22 GA. PP 15.7%, PK 89.5%
Key Metrics: Pts down 40%, GF up 15%, GA up 50%, PP down 4%, PK up 3%

3. Los Angeles Kings 13 GP, 6-7-0 (.462), 12 pts. 39 GF, 42 GA. PP 21.4%, PK 81.7%
Start of Last Year: 13 GP, 3-8-2 (.308), 8 pts. 25 GF, 36 GA. PP 10.1%, PK 85.3%
Key Metrics: Pts up 50%, GF up 56%, GA up 17%, PP up 11%, PK down 4%

4. Anaheim Ducks 13 GP, 4-7-2 (.385), 10 pts. 27 GF, 33 GA. PP 10.5%, PK 80.9%
Start of Last Year: 13 GP, 9-0-4 (.846), 22 pts. 42 GF, 28 GA. PP 20.6%, PK 87.5%
Key Metrics: Pts down 55%, GF down 36%, GA up 18%, PP down 10%, PK down 7%

5. Phoenix Coyotes, 10 GP, 4-6-0 (.400), 8 pts. 22 GF, 29 GA. PP 8.7%, PK 81.4%
Start of Last Year: 10 GP, 2-8-0 (.200), 4 pts. 19 GF, 44 GA. PP 9.2%, PK 76.5%
Key Metrics: Pts up 100%, GF up 16%, GA down 34%, PP down 1%, PK up 5%

Last year by this time in the season, there were already 18 points separating the top seed in the Pacific from the bottom seed; this year the spread is down to 5 points. And while the Ducks have the worst winning percentage of the bunch, it's better to be trailing the Sharks by 3 points and the Stars by 2 than if those teams had started with last year's start; then the deficit would be 6 points to the Sharks and 10 points to the Stars, and my panic would be much more severe.

At any rate, the Blue Jackets come in after beating out the Kings last night in what seems to be a typical Columbus effort: limiting goals against. In case you're not up to speed with the western standings, you may be surprised to note that Columbus leads the league in goals-allowed-per-game (1.82) and in penalty killing (93.0%). You may also be surprised to note that the Calgary Flames lead the west in goals-scored-per-game (3.50). It wasn't that long ago (2002-03) when the Flames were 14th in the west in team offense and the Blue Jackets were 15th in the west in team defense; talk about changing identity.

Prediction: The Ducks and Blue Jackets met up in Columbus early last month (part of the Ducks' whirlwind post-London fatigue tour) and the game was an Anaheim disaster. Fatigued and jet-lagged, the Ducks took 16 minutes to get a shot on goal, ended up being shorthanded for more than 20 minutes of gameclock, and surrendered 3 PP goals en route to a 4-0 loss. I'm optimistic that those trends won't be repeated. Let's say Ducks 4, Blue Jackets 2. Goals by Moen, Miller, Pahlsson, and the man I call Schneidermayer.

Go Ducks.


spade-in-victorhell said...

i say we lose...i agree were gonna look real nice today...but columbus is rolling...3-1 blue caca's over the rusty duckos

p.s. hnidy finally goes where that ass belongs on the 3rd pairing...even more optomisim..if scotty comes back then he grabs pine...how awesome would that be!!!

Earl Sleek said...

Infidel! Heh, it could be a loss, but you'll never see it in any of my game predictions.

You might as well tell me that Pahlsson won't score a goal today. Even more likely to come true, but that's not what my gameday predictions are about.

spade-in-victorhell said...

id rather assume we lose and be pleasantly surprised..

its like thinking your not getting shit for christmas and u open your present and its a xbox 360

instead of expecting a xbox 360 and getting sox...

change your mind at all?

p.s. cut mowers now!!

Earl Sleek said...

change your mind at all?

I get where you're coming from, and don't let me get in your way, but at this point I agree more with your assessment of Hnidy than anything.

You are dead-on there. Probably 80% of my Schneider-excitement stems from my depression at watching Hnidy tackle serious minutes.

As for Mowers, I don't think he needs to be cut--when put on the 4th line I think he'll be valuable and responsible. My main complaint on Mowers is to stop pretending he's a top-line and PP contributor. Looks as if we finally have a lineup where we can stop the Mowers-shenanigans, so I'm fine keeping him for the minutes that God intended him to play.

RudyKelly said...

I think you Ducks fans will realize just how badly you miss Scott Niedermayer the moment Mathieu Schneider finishes his first shift.

Earl Sleek said...

Possibly. But I'm focusing less on the jump from Niedermayer-to-Schneider and instead focusing on the jump from Hnidy-to-Schneider.

I don't see how that can go worse.

spade-in-victorhell said...

thats like jumping the grand canyon

Bryce said...

hell, if schnieds can put it in on the shootout Scotty can keep his ball at home.

I gotta say, 5-7-2 looks much better than 4-8-2.

Anyway, while schnieder DID have a good game, especially with the winner, he took a few risky pinches that, if he'd missed, would've shoved a rake right into the ass of the duck's hopes of a win.

But it worked out, so awww yea.

RudyKelly said...

Tomorrow, I am NOT going to win a million dollars.

(Let's see if this works.)

Julian said...

Wow I like Huskins. Not in a Sleek-Pahlsson kind of way. I'm just saying.

Earl Sleek said...

For the record:

1. This makes the Ducks 8-19 in all-time shootouts, only New Jersey has been in more. They have the most shootout losses, and are 26th in shootout win pct. Only CGY, PHI, OTT, and SJS are worse. Sharks are 3-10.

2. Schneidermayer is now the only Duck to score in the shootout in eight shooters this year (the EDM shootout was decided in two, but the third shooter was going to be Mowers).

3. I was listening to the shootout in the car driving home. Kudos to Steve Carroll for yelling out an appropriate "Hallelujah!" when they won one.

Daniel said...

Wow I like Huskins. Not in a Sleek-Pahlsson kind of way. I'm just saying.

He has certainly stepped up his offensive play hasn't he? From the couple of games I have watched, he is by far the biggest change from last years team. I am sure Carlyle said to go ahead and be aggressive with Niedermayer gone. You saw it a couple times in the playoffs last year, he had a nice flash to him. But you also know that they told him don't do anything stupid kid, or we will sit your ass.

A nice surprise if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Huskins looks good. What are the chances he winds up being this year's Shane O'Brien and gets traded? He's not as young as Shane though.

Earl Sleek said...

Unfortunately, my ego is going to take way too much credit for Huskins' play this year.

I got the penalty box seats for a preseason game this year, and while Huskins was in there I gave him a good drunk-talking-to about his role this year. I don't recall it all, but it definitely involved telling him that "you need to carry the puck more this year. We need more Niedermayer out of you."

He didn't say anything back that I could hear, but there was a look of general understanding. Later that night, I regretted it a bit (is it really good advice to tell young d-men to play like Niedermayer?), but since it's looked pretty darn good.

And of course, I like to think I played my part. Well, at least me teaming up with Jack Daniels :)

Julian said...

You and Jack will have to have a chat with the forwards about finding the net. The offense is positively anemic.

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, no kidding. But when duty calls, Sleek eventually does his part!

I'll be in the same seats a week from today for the Sharks game--I'll try to get the message across then.

Jack, looks like we have a mission.