Anaheim Ducks (7-5-1, t-3rd in west) at Los Angeles Kings (3-6-1, 15th in west)
Let's try this again, shall we?
Lots to talk about on the Anaheim end of things, plus I'm sure Rudy's got plenty of Kings stuff to add, so let's get moving. First off is the Six Games of Jekyll / Seven Games of Hyde that's started off the Ducks' year. 1-5-0 in the first six, then 6-0-1 in the last seven, and the primary difference appears to be offense: the Ducks jumped from 2.17 goals scored per game to 4.14, and the power play jumped from a 1-for-24 success ratio to a 10-for-30 over the last seven games. Meanwhile, defense and penalty killing for the Ducks have stayed remarkably consistent (goals-against per game went from 3.33 to 3.29; penalty killing went from 80.6% to 80.5%).
As noted, the primary driver for this improved offense has been the awakening of the three-headed first star of the week: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Teemu Selanne. The table below shows the improvement that each of the three players has shown both in even-strength and power-play situations. Each statistic (goals/60 minutes, assists/60, points/60, plus/60, minus/60, differential/60) is shown twice for each player -- once to show their rates for the first six games and again to show their rates for the last seven games. Pay particular attention to the points/60 and the plus/60 -- the improvement is phenomenal.
Stats are shown: Games 1-6 / Games 7-13
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It's really not all good news for the Ducks, though (what? negativity?). Over the last seven games there have definitely been stretches where opponents have carried the play against the Ducks, though usually those have come after the Ducks have taken an early lead. The Ducks allowed two straight goals to Toronto, three straight to Ottawa, three straight to Montreal, two straight to Columbus, two straight to Detroit, five straight to Vancouver, and two straight to Calgary. There have definitely been offsetting stretches where Anaheim has owned the play (the Ducks have led 2-0 in five of the seven games), but there have definitely been stretches where Anaheim has sat back and held on for dear life.
Still, I can't complain. The primary objective of accumulating standings points has been wildly successful, and for every stretch where an opponent has controlled the game, there has been an equal-or-greater stretch that the Ducks have manufactured. Look at some of these Anaheim goal outbursts: @TOR - 2g in 5:14 in the 1st, @OTT - 3g in 10:01 in the 2nd, @MTL - 3g in 13:59 in the 2nd, @CBJ - 2g in 6:46 in the 3rd, DET - 2g in 8:06 in the 3rd, VAN - 3g in 1:40 in the 2nd, CGY - 2g in 0:45 in the 2nd. It's not a typical "shut the opposition down" streak that the Ducks have been known for in the past couple of years, but I'll certainly take it.
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Mats Sundin is apparently intrigued by the Ducks? Uh, OK Mats. The Ducks can't really offer any money, easy travel schedule, or even a spot on the top power play unit, but if you're purely interested in the comfort of anonymity, Anaheim certainly is not a town to judge people for mid-season unretirements. As an added bonus, Sammy Pahlsson would automatically become your best friend -- he'd probably talk your ear off, finally given an opportunity to speak Swedish again. So Mr. Sundin, if you're truly interested, the only question remains: would you prefer a December Niedermayer return package or are you interested in the February Selanne plan?
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The Ducks return to Staples Center tonight where they lost 6-3 in the third game of each team's season. Kings fans may be worried, as they haven't won in their past four games, but the Ducks have been streak-busters as of late. In chronological order, they have ended L.A.'s 2-game losing streak, San Jose's 4-game win streak, Montreal's 5-game win streak, Detroit's 5-game win streak, and Calgary's 6-game win streak. Anaheim's streak-ending trend may be just what the Kings need.
Prediction: In lately-typical Ducks fashion, Ducks win 4-3 by scoring the first four goals of the game, then sitting back and letting the Kings dominate the second half of the game. Goals by Perry, Moen, Pahlsson, and Kunitz.
p.s. Careful readers will note that I have said absolutely nothing about today's presidential election. To tell the truth, I haven't followed this race very well at all. Basically, my opinion of voting is the same it was two years ago; certainly vote if you feel led.