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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ducks Gameday—Kunitz breaks hand; Mayor of Anaheim asks, “Who’s Kunitz?”

Round Three, Game Three: (1) Detroit Red Wings at (2) Anaheim Ducks
(Series tied 1-1, JavaGeek ‘odds’: even-steven)

Anaheim top-line winger Chris Kunitz broke a bone in his hand late in G1 after scoring the Ducks’ only goal. He had surgery on it yesterday and will be out for the duration of the playoffs. It turns out he was hurt deflecting a Pronger shot, but here's how I had pictured the injury:

So what does this injury mean to the Ducks? Well, on the surface it sucks—the Ducks are not very deep at forward, and fourth-line goon left-winger Shawn Thornton was injured in G2 and may not be available either [EDIT: Apparently Thornton is available tonight.].

In a perverse sort of way, though, injuries to left-wingers are OK for the Ducks, as it is certainly their most versatile position. Randy Carlyle is fond of his pairs—McDonald and Selanne, Getzlaf and Perry—and has moved left wingers to move up and down throughout the year. Coach Carlyle certainly has his options for a top-line fill-in, whether there be a need for speed (Marchant, Shannon) or grit (Penner, May), and I think Teemu and McDonald can operate with most anybody crashing the net. Honestly, I don’t know if the top line will be ‘set’ anytime soon—there are some benefits to the rotation method as well.

Besides, we keep calling it the ‘top line’ to fool Detroit’s best checkers. Playoff scoring to date:
C. Kunitz - A. McDonald - T. Selanne: 9 g, 10 a, 19 points
D. Penner - R. Getzlaf - C. Perry: 7 g, 14 a, 21 points
T. Moen - S. Pahlsson - R. Niedermayer: 7 g, 13 a, 20 points

Anaheim's real top line?
C. Pronger - S. Niedermayer - F. Beauchemin: 8 g, 15 a, 23 points

But let’s not understate Kunitz’s role—2nd on the team in hits, a good skater, and a guy willing-and-able to occupy the front of the net. The players picking up the extra minutes are definitely going to need to step up and make up for that missing element, enough to at least distract Detroit’s checking line from the real scorers.

The Ducks come back to Anaheim from a pretty successful trip, not only because they got a road win, but because they effectively were able to neutralize a lot of Detroit’s home-ice-advantage. Before the series, the Red Wings had played 47 home games (regular season and playoffs) and been outshot only 5 times. On average, Detroit outshot visitors by more than 12 shots per game.

The Ducks not only outshot the Wings in both G1 and G2, but manufactured two tie games with 5 minutes left in regulation—essentially they were able to turn both games into coin flips. Considering Detroit’s home record (now 35-5-9), that’s quite an accomplishment.

Analysts are quick to point out that the Ducks have scored 5 even-strength goals and zero special-teams goals, while the Wings have scored zero even-strength goals and 5 special-teams goals. Personally, I think that’s a bit of a fluke, but if it remains the case the Wings could be in trouble going into Anaheim. To date the Ducks have scored 56 pp goals in Anaheim and 42 on the road, while the Red Wings have scored 47 pp goals in Detroit and 35 on the road.

For a good read, check out one of my new favorites: Interchangeable Parts. Though Schnookie and Pookie are (GRRRRR!) Devils fans, these two teddy-bear sisters have been keeping diligent journals of both the conference finals. They don’t profess to be well-versed in the western conference teams, but their commentary is irresistible. Here’s their WCF G1 and G2 journals for your enjoyment.

Prediction: Ducks 4, Red Wings 2. Goals by Perry, Getzlaf, Pahlsson, and Beauchemin.

p.s. I'll be at this game. I didn’t get the Row B seats, unfortunately, but I’ll still be in the lower bowl, behind Giguere for the 1st and 3rd periods—Sec. 201, Row N. I’ll be the guy in the green t-shirt acting entirely too drunk for 6 in the afternoon. You can come by say hi, but I reserve the right to reflexively defend myself. Oh, and just to keep the tab running, the Ducks are 8-0-1 when I've been in attendance this year, outscoring opponents 38-15.

Go Ducks.


Anonymous said...

Kunitz was a good skater and great forechecker, just ask Matias Ohlund from lastround when he steamroled him. The point production can be picked up from any of the other forwards Carlyle throws out, but who wants to throw his body around like Kunitz? Brad May? Ugh.

Earl Sleek said...

I tell you, there is something very mysterious about Brad May and the way he started openly contributing to this team right on May 1st. We got two weeks left of "quality Brad May" before the June starts; hopefully he can keep it up!

Ted said...

I am not a Ducks fan, but the half dozen Ducks games I watched in the playoffs, Kunitz was drilling people all over the place. And cleanly too, it's hard to not become a fan of guys like him and Pahlsson.

Brad May, OTOH, is a disgrace. I hope someone slashes his head off!

Earl Sleek said...

Well, likeable or not, I think Brad May is the key to this injury, as well as Todd Marchant.

Either May will be thrown up to the top line, will be replacing Penner on the kid line, or will be anchoring a 4th line without Marchant's help. Any one of these scenarios, he needs to play a simple and driven game.

He can be decapitated this summer, but at this point, the Ducks need some big games out of Mr. May.

Anonymous said...

Here's to hoping you'll see as little action at your end of the rink as possible. Except for during the 2nd period and any odd-numbered OT periods.

Oh, and would you mind doing a favor for a Ducks fan stuck in Boston? I was wondering if the goal judges are still sitting behind the net. I read somewhere (this blog?) that in some arenas, they've been moved to a different location. Thanks!

Earl Sleek said...

I'll take a look, Grace, and give you a report.

But seriously, between that and the 6 pm start time (which I am blaming on you just for living on the east coast), that's two favors now.

Good thing liquor makes me feel extra generous. :)

Laura Lee said...

The goal judges at the Honda Ponda ascended high up to the corner rafters prior to the 2nd to last regular season game. Cracks me up to see them leaning over the rails clutching their goal buttons straining for a view. Replaced by high dollar paying glass-seats fans, of course.

By the way Earl, your seats tonight are THE best in the house as you will see! (besides mine in 314, that is)

Earl Sleek said...

Oh, they're good seats all right, but I am one of the most spoiled hockey fans in the league. I pout when I can't reach the glass. :)

Click on the "Row B" link in the post to see where I usually sit (well, 5 times a season).

Beerme said...

Watch out, Ducks fans. Pronger meltdown alert!

PJ Swenson said...

Look at the guy up against the glass behind Hasek in the second. He taped an eye chart on the glass for the referees. Lol.

Pronger meltdown? Have not seen one of those since St Louis but to be honest this is a team meltdown.

Detroit does not have to do anything but play a tight defensive game. Anaheim is going to make mistakes, and the Red Wings are going to capitalize. This being the Ducks, at least they took someone out in the process.

Nick said...

This being the Ducks, at least they took someone out in the process

You're an ass.

Anonymous said...

Earl, it looks like you may have needed every drop of alcohol you could get down your throat.

Worst. Game. Ever.

JavaGeek said...

Why on earth did Beauchemin get 30 minutes?

Dirk Hoag said...

Actually PJ, they didn't even take Holmstrom out (try as they might). Unlike those Sharks who go down for the game then mysteriously recover (j/k)!