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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ducks Gameday—Refocusing on the playoffs

Anaheim Ducks (42-26-8, 3rd in west) at Phoenix Coyotes (36-33-6, 11th in west)

Well, like Rudy below, with last night's result against the Sharks, I'm not sure I'm overly concerned with Duck game outcomes from here on out; they don't all need to be wins. It certainly seems that upward mobility in the standings is out of the question, as is dropping out of the playoff picture completely; now it's just about getting enough points to not slide very far. I've always been less concerned with playoff seeding than I probably ought to be; the more crucial thing has always been playing well when the playoffs arrive. Let's put it this way: there's no comfortable seeds in the west. It's a deep conference, and any team is capable of a first-round win. Last year the Ducks won the cup as a 2nd seed, but they've had fantastic runs from the 6 and 7 spots.

So to me, the bigger question isn't: can the Ducks hold off Dallas & friends for the fourth seed and home ice? Rather, it is: can the Ducks start the playoffs with the best roster available?

Last night Giguere pulled up lame with back spasms before the game, and was a surprise non-starter, throwing rookie Jonas Hiller to the bloodthirsty Sharks. This is pretty significant as each of the last two playoff years, Giguere has similarly been a surprise no-show for the postseason opener. Fortunately, the Ducks had a crazy Russian in reserve both those years (one whom they'll be visiting tonight) that was capable of dominating a series. It will probably be Giguere's decision when he returns, but hopefully he can sense that there's not a terrible rush for regular season wins. What's really critical is that he is game-ready for the first game of the postseason, wherever it is.

This principle can somewhat apply to any of Anaheim's major players--Niedermayer, Pahlsson, Selanne, or Getzlaf--there's no need now to be overextending those players in a quest for a higher fourth seed. Pronger, I guess fortunately, is having his jaw rested through league enforcement. Now perhaps Giguere can keep him company a few games before they return saved up for the postseason.

Political aside: I'm never one for presidential politics. I'm cynical and lazy about the voting process, and don't much care for anyone who passes for a legitimate candidate. Still, I am willing to reconsider, if only they'd address my issues:

Independent-voting Ducks fans in swing states, order yours today!

Prediction: Hiller was really encouraging with his surprise-start 41 saves last night; he was shaky in his first minute, but after that surrendered only a 5-on-3 goal in a game where'd you'd think "only one?". Should Giguere pull his usual G1 crap in a few weeks, I'm already feeling better about that potential Bryzgalovless scenario. As for offense, generating zero shots in the 3rd period looks worse on paper than it did on the ice, but I think that'll help spark the Ducks' forwards tonight. Ducks 4, Coyotes 2. Goals by Kunitz, Huskins, Pahlsson, and Bertuzzi.

Go Ducks.


RudyKelly said...

Where was the Ducks forecheck last night? I like watching them play the Sharks or the Red Wings because it really puts their puck protection to the test, but the Sharks had no problem holding onto the puck last night.

Earl Sleek said...

I dunno, Rudy. Sometimes the Ducks kill so many penalties in a row that they are pretty much in "hold on" mode for a while, and that probably happened some last night. That and giving up the first goal early.

It's tough to say what that third period was about, except the Sharks trapping well. I think I'd expect better tonight, but I won't be able to see tonight's game, and the last two I missed featured zero Anaheim goals. Fair warning, I guess.

andy grabia said...

Fortunately, the Ducks had a crazy Russian in reserve both those years (one whom they'll be visiting tonight) that was capable of dominating a series.


Morbo said...

When they spend too much time killing penalties, the forwards get lazy and don't skate. Add in the fact that Randy Carlisle has an excessive woody for line matching on the road = no forecheck.

Hiller steals 2 pts from the coyotes tonight again. Is anyone on the Ducks capable of skating away from the puck except the square jawed one? Yuck.

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, I didn't see any of it tonight, but I figured I would have seen more than 15 shots on goal the night after producing none in the 3rd.

Was it a case of going up early and thinking Hiller was going to win 1-0?

Oh well. That win coupled with Dallas' loss means I'm probably even less concerned with game outcomes for the near future.

Niekon said...

I unfortunately (or fortunately) was not able to catch most of the game on tv last night but was listening to it on the radio (or tried to depending upon the reception available through the Tejon Pass). I was getting pissed listening to the game because I'd catch bits and pieces and the pieces I caught were when Anaheim seemed to give Phoenix a power play.

In the end Anaheim got a win, which made me happy... but also made me wonder, do I really have to go skydiving every time that the Ducks play in order to maybe get a win? Really?

Morbo said...

Was it a case of going up early and thinking Hiller was going to win 1-0?

Not necessarily, looked more like they had dead legs by the 3rd period. They had some chances in the 1st and 2nd period. The 3rd period was basically:
D-man passes to stationary winger at red line. Winger sees no one skating through the lanes to pass to. Dumps it in, Giant Forehead calls for change, Phoenix gets puck and rushes up ice with speed. Rinse and repeat. Even the powerplay looked pretty bad. The only reason they scored the game winner was because Nieds was sneaky and pinned a forechecking phoenix penalty killer down behind the net so the ducks got a 4 on 3 rush.

spade-in-victorhell said...

morbo you made my monday morning...great analyisis

for anyone who didnt watch the game...read morbo take couldnt agree more