Pregame: Anaheim @ Chicago

Posted: 02/11/2013 by bc in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

All eyes will be focused on Chicago as the Western Conference’s top two teams meet up Tuesday night. This game, more than any other will establish the buzz around our Ducks maybe through to the trade deadline.

Win, and our Ducks are written up as a Stanley Cup contender. Lose well and our Ducks maintain their “tough to play against” status. Lose badly and the “I told you so’s” come out from under their rocks.

Such it is in the media and blog worlds in which so many are driven to conflate meaning from a less than ideal set of facts. This is after all one game. It represents about 2% of the season.

A couple of things about the 10-0-2 Blackhawks are striking. First is their consistency. Chicago is 5-0-2 in one goal games. Losing only shootout points to Minnesota and Vancouver. Second, a 92.8% PK efficiency means this is a team  that can afford to take a penalty.

The Blackhawks are surprisingly tied with our Ducks for second least penalized team in the NHL. Ducks PK efficiency of just 67.5% is improving but ‘staying out of the box’ is all too frequently a key to the game for Anaheim.

Look for the Blackhawks to exploit this difference by targeting Corey Perry for extracurricular activity just as Dallas did. If Pears can stay cool to it Chicago could well die by that sword against an NHL 6th best PP.

With their ability to execute at a high tempo, Chicago will challenge our guys to remain disciplined. At the same time we have to pound on them physically in the first period to slow them down as the game wears on. To beat these Blackhawks you have to make them pay a physical price for wanting the puck.

On offense the Blackhawks like to generate shots from the third man high position. This allows them to set a screen low,  a play we saw St. Louis execute well on the Steen and Backes goals. If you’re having trouble visualizing this you can see it here.

The Blackhawks are winning as their best players succesful every game. By contrast our guys are winning with a different guy or line stepping up every night. so far, our best player (Corey Player) is not our most successful player right now. The Blackhawks roll while our guys are manufacutirng points.

We know Chicago is a playoff if not a Stanley Cup contender. The only teams to have beaten these Blackhawks took them to a Shootout. They remain undefeated in regulation time after a dozen games. Right now, they’re as near to perfect as perfect gets.

It’s safe to expect every Duck will be especially challenged tomorrow night. Every weakness will be tested. It’s already no secret around the NHL that Viktor Fasth exposes a lot of net to the high stick side. St. Louis showed that he’s suspect 5-hole.

This game sets the NHL’s 2nd best offense (Chicago) against the 19th best defense by GF/GA. From our side of it, the 3rd best offense goes up against hockey’s 5th best defense. Obviously the team stats favor Chicago.

Our Ducks have intangibles. Ain’t it amazing what having 3 big guys out on the ice with you can do for your confidence?

Note: Ducks recalled Nate Guenin from Norfolk today.

  1. czhokej says:

    Is there any reasonable logical explanation why our top line is not producing? I was analyzing their set plays, their positioning, skating, forechecking, backchecking and shooting, but I did not come up with a good comprehensive answer.

    • bc says:

      Two things cz and this is all I can add. First, Getz now has a blue line that he can go to. He had that during Lubo’s big year as well though. So make of this idea what you will.
      Secondly, Perry isn’t producing. His timing is way off and now he’s pressing. Last game he looked like he was trying to do it all by himself. My current overused is metaphor is that if Perry were a finely tuned car he looks like a mechanic named Frank Clank gave him his last tuneup. He’s rattling and being rattled rather than rumbling along.
      That’s what it’s like when your timing is off. You look the same to others but vision, hands and feet are just out of sync.
      Once as a teenager I was having a particularly rough stretch. It showed up mostly in my passing. A teacher told me to get my eyes checked because I was having difficulty seeing the board. Sure enough the Doc diagnosed astigmatism. Got glasses and wham problem solved.
      The point here is that when your timing is off it could physical, mental and it could be as Pears suggested recently, lack of quality practice due to the lockout. It’s a matter of being behind the curve in his conditioning.
      I suspect of the possibilities it’s the latter. That’s why the other day I suggested that Perry should come out of it in the next 5 or so games.
      Interesting to note that Perry following up his 50 goal season with a 35 goal season was reported as a significant drop-off in his production. What wasn’t reported is that he was still the leading scorer in the Western Conference. Did the drop off have more to do with improved defensive coverage in the West?

      Check out these line combo’s BB used at practice yesterday:

      Ryan – Koivu – Selanne
      Palmieri – Getzlaf – Winnik
      Cogliano – Bonino – Perry
      Beleskey – Etem – Rakell – Staubitz

      Think Coach is sending a message? Would placing Pears down the roster help him get it going against lesser competition?
      Credit the play of Nick Bonino for making the above possible. It would also indicate that Rickard Rakell plays his 5th and maybe final Ducks game of this season tonight.

  2. czhokej says:

    I guess, anybody would benefit playing with Koivu. I think Winnik and Ryan are good examples. Ryan is not as good as a playmaker as he thought. Maybe it will come in the future. Getzlaf is not that marvelous himself, even though he improved some parts of his game. Originally I wanted to blame Getz for Perry’s lack of productions. But it did not seem to be correct. I think your explanation bc is much more reasonable. But splitting them now? Is it too soon?
    Well, let us trust BB.

    • bbdux93 says:

      Off topic. The big news about Christopher Dorner hold up in a cabin in Seven Oaks was a shocker for me. I spent many summers as a kid in my family’s cabin about 1/2 a mile from where that cabin is located. After dinner and just before dark we would often walk down to that group of cabins. On our way back my grandmother would delight in scaring the beejezus out of us with her tall tales of bears and other wild creatures.
      Even in good places – bad things sometimes happen.

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