If our Ducks look in the mirror and see Blue Jackets it would be understandable. The BJ’s began the year with a horrid start, finally hitting rock bottom in the NHL standings on February 25 with 5-12-2 record. Since, NHL turnaround specialist John Davidson has installed a winning attitude that has permeated the team from top to bottom. The result is a 15-4-2 run to playoff contention.
Our Ducks are very familiar with teams like Columbus. We are one. The difference being where each is in their respective turnarounds. The Blue Jackets has just begun. Our Ducks run began a year ago.
When a team that sees itself as Stanley Cup contender faces a team on the rise, it is a statement game. Win and our Ducks show the Blue Jackets that they aren’t quite there yet. Lose and the reality that our Ducks aren’t quite there yet is suddenly a valid question.
These are the games that genuine Stanley Cup contenders win.
To prevail our Ducks have to beat arguably the best and certainly the hottest goaltender on the planet. Sergei Bobrovsky has injected himself into the running for the Vezina and Hart trophies. Only 3 goalies have accomplished the feat. Dominick Hasek did it twice, Jacques Plante and Jose Theodore in his outstanding rookie year. Bobrovsky has put himself among the best goalies of the last half century.
Tonight Bobrovsky faces a team in a scoring drought. Our Ducks have scored just 25 times in their last 13 games. A betting man might peel off a few Ben Franklins on Columbus and the under. That would be a trap though. While our Ducks have struggled since those two games against the Red Wings, the guys have been able to put on a solid performance in the big games. Ducks beat the Blackhawks, scored 10 goals while taking 2 of 3 from Dallas and beat the Kings 4-3 in a shoot out. Kings just edged us out 2-1 last Saturday.
More importantly Ducks have a recent burr in their britches stemming from a 2-1 OT loss to these same Blue Jackets just two weeks ago. It was a game most observers felt our Ducks should have won.
Most often when teams are in scoring slumps they’re told to go hard to the net , shoot often and good things will come of it. Bruce Boudreau has had four days to work on timing and shooting drills designed to ignite a struggling offense. It might also be more interesting than coincidental that our Ducks have stopped posting Practice Reports on the official site.
Expect to see some new tactics in the Ducks attack tonight.
Viktor Fasth draws the start.
Ducks have an opportunity to put the swagger back. My bet is that they do.
Injuries: Columbus will be without Artem Anisimov. D-men Adrian Aucoin and Tim Erixon are listed as questionable. Cam Fowler is expected to sit out his second consecutive game with an upper body injury.
Notes: Ducks announced the signing of Yale Bulldogs Antoine Laganiere to two-year entry level contract yesterday. Many scouts say the 6’5″ 214# center is NHL ready and could step in on Anaheim’s 3rd line right now. While Laganiere may get a game or two in, he doesn’t qualify for the playoffs. The plan is to allow him to return to Yale for his final exams.