December 08 2010 11:19AM
Game Day Recon #26 - Ducks @ Canucks
The last time the Ducks and Canucks met, the Ducks still hadn't won a game... until they beat the Canucks. Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry were awful to start the year... until they beat the Canucks.
Sounds like a great recipe for revenge, don't you think?
The Western Conference standings are incredibly deceiving. At first you look at see that only 2 points separate 3rd place from 13th. That's insane. You look at the Canucks and the Ducks, who have had very different starts to the season, and see that they are tied in points. That's also insane. But you have to look a little deeper.
First, the Canucks have played the least number of games in the entire league (25) and five less than the Ducks (30). When you compare the Canucks and Ducks offense and defense, there is no matchup at all. The Canucks are +16 in goal differential, while the Ducks are -15. The Canucks have scored 6 more goals than the Ducks, despite playing 5 less games.
The Ducks are pretty terrible defensively, and their offense just can't make it up for it. The Ducks have one of the most impressive top 2 lines in the league. But even the woefully inept Oilers (defensively, anyway) held the Ducks to only 2 goals through 65 minutes, and the Ducks 19-year-old rookie defenseman won it for them in the shootout. All this after the Ducks were shut out for 2 straight games. So the Ducks are having trouble scoring, but they're having more trouble keeping the puck out of their own net, ranked 23rd in GA/game. It's especially bad when they're killing penalties, where they rank 29th in total goals against while 4-on-5, and 25th in total PPGA. So if the Canucks can goat the Ducks into taking penalties, especially early, this game may quickly swing in the Canucks favour. This is pretty important, as the Ducks are 3-11-2 when they give up the first goal. So they play from behind often, and don't usually come back to win. Conversely, the Canucks are 12-1-1 when they score first, good for 2nd in the league.
Finally, keep an eye on Jonas Andersson tonight. The journeyman 4th liner has played well in the AHL with the Moose this season, playing physical, tough hockey while chipping in on the scoresheet. The Canucks called him and sent Joel Perreault back down to Manitoba after Perreault failed to impress in his short time here.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Find your legs early. The Ducks played a long, late game last night in Edmonton. And the Canucks haven't played since Sunday. The Canucks should have a boatload more energy than the Ducks tonight. They need to get skating early. With Raymond back, the 2nd line with Kesler, Raymond and Tambellini could be a huge weapon tonight, if they can get going early.
2. Control the puck, hold the puck. The Ducks are pretty bad in the faceoff circle, ranked only 24th. If the Canucks can exert their strength on faceoffs (ranked first in the league) and control the puck, then they'll have the Ducks chasing all night. If the Ducks are chasing, they'll get tired and take penalties. But they have to take advantage of the puck and keep it. Which means...
3. Limit giveaways, push for takeaways. On the road, the Ducks are -13 on giveaways/takeaways, while the Canucks at home are +37. For a team with plenty of rest playing a tired team that's prone to giveaways, this is hugely important. The Canucks need to limit giveaways, keep the puck when they have, and force turnovers on a tired team. Again, forcing turnovers should lead the Ducks to taking penalties.
Here are your top 5 links for today's game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Ducks @ Canucks (canucks.com)
2. Kesler working hard to redefine himself (The Province)
3. Lupul's return gives Ducks options (OC Register)
5. Raymond in, Samuelsson out for Canucks (CBC Sports)