Penguins and our Ducks are each 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.

Ducks make their 5th attempt this season to win 2 games in a row. Our Ducks have won consecutive periods three times this season though. The 2nd & 3rd of the Vancouver game, 2nd & 3rd against Dallas. Most importantly, after beating San Jose 2-0 in the 3rd period of the 5-2 loss, our Ducks showed some carryover by edging Tampa Bay 1-0 in the 1st period last night.

After a disastrous 0-3 start our Ducks season has been marred by speed bumps. Our guys have won one lost one 3 consecutive times. Followed by a won one lost two prior to last nights win.

The Penguins have been either hot cold. Four of their six wins came in a consecutive game win streak while they’ve lost two straight twice. The Pens are currently 1-4 in their last 5 games.The Pens and Ducks are subtly different hockey from the rosters that clashed twice last November. Each has since tried to replace their #1 D-man with mixed results.

The once feared Penguin PP is currently ranked 26th in NHL. Once QB’ed by the great Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh relies more on a QB by committee consisting of Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski and Paul Martin. With Crosby and Malkin it’s probably only a matter of time before the Pens work the kinks out and explode.

The D is healthy again with return of Zbynek Michalek. Dan Bylsma will decide whether to go with the bash & crash of Deryk Engelland or the puck moving Ben Lovejoy.

“It could be a game by thing, ” Bylsma said, “There are considerations given what type of opponent and what kind of game we think we’re going to have.”

Dynamics @ Play:

Pens 1-4 in their past 5 are desperate. This is a team that went to the SCF in consecutive seasons, winning once before bowing out the surprising Montreal Canadians in the second round last season. Ducks are facing a wounded bear with a lot of pride.

Our ah shucks Ducks are team in search of consistency. This game could be a bridge across troubled water. Did our Ducks truly learned their lesson after back2back lackluster performances against the Devils and Sharks? Can our guys put energetic, spirited performances on the ice in consecutive games?

In the post game interviews all of our guys talked about the importance of starting strong. We may get our answers in the first 5 minutes of the game.

Keys to the Game:

Hockey games are usually decided by a couple-3 players stepping up in critical situations. When teams employing very similar systems clash it comes down to the game within the game and who steps up and wins the one on one battles.

In the Pens Zone, those battles will feature Brooks Orpik on Cory Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.  Zbynek Michalek against Teemu Selanne.

Marc-Andre Fluery has been looking to jump-start a slow start. Tonight he has a healthy blue line in front of him.

The coaches chess game will feature Randy Carlyle moving Bobby Ryan around for favorable matchups and Dan Bylsma shuffling and quick shifting Orpik & Michalek.

On our Ducks side, countering the Crosby line with Visnovsky & Lydman is a no brainer. Malkin moves back to center on the 2nd line following the injury to Staal. And herein lies the coaches dilemma. Do you shield the rookie Cam Fowler and use him on the 3rd pairing ES?Or do yo toss the rookie defender out there against recent Hart Trophy MVP winners Sidney Crosby or Evgeny Malkin?

This game is about who takes it. There’s plenty of talent on either side of the puck to do exactly that. Look for Hiller & Fleury to play huge roles. Who makes that key game changing hi-lite reel save?

  1. czhokej says:

    bc, I spent the whole evening last night watching Kings’ game, just to study Boucher’s 1-3-1 system and his aggressive swarming defense. I know this is off the topic, but it was interesting to learn how it works. It’s not an universal solution for any team (you need speed for that). I do not want to bore you with more details (or my opinions), I just wish we had a coach who was an analyst, scholar, motivator, and a deep thinker.

  2. BackCheck says:

    No more, GM Yosemite Sam and Coach Elmer Fudd? Like George Harrison wrote, ‘All Things Must Pass.”

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