Colorado Avalanche (30-25-5, t-10th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (33-23-7, t-3rd in west)
The Ducks have gone 6-1 in the sevengames since Teemu's return, and have outscored opponents 23-11. Just for fun, let's take a look at the players' even-strength results over those seven games (pay attention, there's a surprise at the end):
Whoa, I'm just as stunned as anybody. Selanne, last year's scoring leader, has the worst offensive numbers for anyone not named Sutherby, Parros, or Pahlsson, whereas Sammy, last year's Selke guy, has the worst defensive numbers of anyone?! Both Teemu and Sammy, of course, are coming off significant time off (plus both were dinged for the empty-netter against vs. Dallas), so expect these numbers to improve. But it did catch me off-guard; they have inspired better play than they've exhibited themselves. What the table doesn't tell you is that Teemu has the best power play rate on the team over those seven games, and that Pahlsson has the worst penalty kill rate on the team (he tends to get dinged for being the lone forward on 3-on-5s, though).
Who's benefitted the most from Selanne's return? I guess you have to say Ryan Carter. I don't know if Selanne's giving Carter some free pointers in practice, but after not scoring a goal in his first 27 games this season, Carter suddenly has 4 goals in the last 5 games.
Two things I'm in favor of: (1) Bertuzzi with Getzlaf and Perry, leaving Kunitz with Selanne. Bertuzzi's biggest problem is his refusal to shoot the puck, and it drives me nuts what chances he's been passing up in Selanne-created space. Kunitz has no such qualms about using open space, and should get better results regardless of centerman. (2) Brian Sutherby, especially on the penalty kill. I like to make fun of Sutherby (Finny's new boy), because it took him 25 games to get an assist, but it hasn't mattered too much. He's got good energy for that fourth line, and is used sparingly enough to be rested for shorthanded situations. I never thought anyone was going to cut into the Pahlsson-Rob-Moen-Marchant forward PK minutes this year, but both Sutherby and Carter have made a good case for themselves.
Anyways, as I noted before, I'll be in the Row B seats tonight, wearing my lucky green shirt and drinking with the locals. Feel free to stop by and say hi, or maybe it'd be easier to find me outside at intermission (non-Katella side).
Prediction: In both meetings thus far, the Ducks have come away with 2-1 victories, but I'm thinking tonight will be a wild one. Ducks 3, Avs 2. Goals by Schneider, Pahlsson, and the scoring machine Ryan Carter.