Game One: Nashville Predators @ Anaheim Ducks

Posted: 04/13/2011 by bc in Uncategorized

Two grinding but very different hockey teams faceoff tonight at the Honda Center. Each team ices ten skaters who scored in double digits. Outside of those ten with ten or more goals our Ducks next highest scorer is Francois Beauchemin with 5.  Our Ducks got more than half of their 239 goals from Corey Perry (50) Bobby Ryan (34) Teemu Selanne (31) and Ryan Getzlaf (19).

Conversely, Nashville required 6 players to account for half of their 219 GF. Perhaps more significantly, is that following their ten with ten goals or more is Marcel Goc with 9 and Cody Franson, Nick Spaling and Jordin Tootoo with 8. Rookie Blake Geoffrion 6 goals in 20 games is on pace for 25 over an 82 game schedule. Nashville is the “it takes all 23 guys to win” icon.

For all the chatter about Nashville’s lack of star driven offense there was only 20 goals between them and our Ducks in GF. 82 divided by 20 is about one goal every four games. Big whoop, eh.

Playoff series openers generally begin a little slow and tight. They call this feeling each other out. I don’t quite but that piece of conventional wisdom. Having played in leagues with a best of seven playoff format I think it’s tight because players are more conscious of NOT making mistakes and less willing to take risks.

The last thing every player wants is to be the goat in a playoff game.

The Predators 194 GA is exactly half a goal game better than our Ducks 235 GA. That’s 3.5 goals over a 7 game series. Quite enough to win a series.

Systems & Schemes: This could also be called Puck Management v. Defense First. The Predators will take away the skating and passing lanes from our Ducks. That’s a given. Thus the goal of the Preds defense is to take away our Ducks puck management and not allow our guys to dictate where the scrums will take place. This game and perhaps this series will be decided by the initial match-up on each and every play. With no passing or skating lanes our guys are forced to beat the Predators first man in. Nashville forces you to go through them because the lanes around them are clogged.

Our Ducks are L-O-D-I-D with guys, Getzlaf, Ryan, Perry, Koivu, Selanne, Visnovsky and Fowler who can skate and stick handle their way out of a  shower stall. Our guys will be forced to beat a man before they make that first pass, give and go, head man the puck, chip and chase or execute hockey’s version of the Hail Mary, the stretch pass.

Turn it over, Nashville wins. Beat that first man, Ducks win.

Of course there are other factors but if you want to see how this game and series goes, pay close attention to which side wins those initial battles. Do our Ducks advance or turn the puck over?

These one on one’s and scrums are also as key at the finish of the play as at the beginning. Nashville does all those little things you hear color analysts talk about very well. They play the man, not the puck. They tie up sticks. They keep the play in front of them.

In a word, they’re brutal. They smother you and wait for a mistake. When you do make that mistake it doesn’t matter who’s on the ice. Nashville has 15 guys who put the puck in the net.

The keys to the game are no different from the keys to the series covered in the Playoff Preview. The first goal is critical, avoiding turnovers and unnecessary penalties and favorable match-ups. Though goalies are the great equalizer in the cat and mouse match-up strategy.

Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely believe our Ducks can win this game and this series. I just have no illusions and nothing but respect for this opponent. They’re tough as nails.

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Comments
  1. Chris Ross says:

    I think this is going to be possibly the most boring series in the first round because of the way in which both teams play, especially Nashville. I just remember every game I watched with Nashville this year was a snoozefest, trap filled, I understand why Americans don’t like hockey type games.

  2. buick22 says:

    I disagree Chris, I watched several Preds games on center ice, and they are a counterattacking team, with lots of breakaway chances, just cause they don’t score three goals a period doesn’t make for boring hockey, unless they dump and change each shift, that does get old fast. I wouldn’t mind it thought, as our scorers don’t need a million chances, just need to capitalize the ones they get.

  3. czhokej says:

    I think I will enjoy it, because it’s going to be a tactical battle, like a chess match. People will have assigned tasks and specific game plan. There will be line matching, not too much space, a lot of one-on-one battles, some provocation and embellishment, nervous tension, attempts to intimidate and aggravate. I do not expect too many goals or a spectacular scoring, but I believe that the game will be exciting.

  4. czhokej says:

    bc, one more thing – do you think that Getz performed well during the regular season? He was supposed to be our best player, he is our C, and appointed leader.

  5. BackCheck says:

    Good take on what to expect, cz. Tanya Lyon interviewed a few Ducks. The operative word is work, http://bit.ly/gBnNBp I don’t think we’ll see a lot of pretty passing and one timers.

    IMO Getzlaf had for him, a mediocre first half, picked it up a notch after returning from injury and was great down the stretch but over-shadowed by the Perry, Selanne & Visnovsky heroics. The feet are moving every shift. He’s dominating physically. Getzy’s 19 pts in 11 games down the stretch has gone almost unnoticed. He’s done nothing to draw attention to it which says a lot about him. Like Perry, Getz has reduced his stupid and selfish PIMS. He isn’t whining to the Refs out there anymore.

    Jeez, he’s still a turnover machine and it seems we just have to roll eyes and live with it. I do wish, like Lydman, Getz would elect to eat the biscuit more often rather than trying to force a play that more often than not results in a turnover in our zone. I can live with the offensive and neutral zone turnovers. It’s those defensive zone cough ups that make me nuts.

    Overall, I give him more credit than smack. Newly married father is bound to be an understandable and forgivable distraction. I don’t care who you are that first year is a year of broken sleep. If it isn’t I’d question the man’s priorities.

  6. czhokej says:

    I have always said that I expected more from him (RG), given his talent and big frame. He is skating better, he is physical, and some of his passes are spectacular. His points look good because of Perry’s scoring ability. But his unwillingness to go to those prime scoring areas, and shoot, is quite often puzzling, and without that our top line will be shut-down-able (excuse my English).

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