RECORDS: Hawks 13-6-2 Ducks 9-7-4
PUCK DROP: 3pm Central
TV: CSN, NHL-N for those outside the 606
O.C. OBSERVERS: Anaheim Calling
TEAM CORSI: Hawks – 51.3% (11th) Ducks – 48.2% (20th)
POWER PLAY: Hawks – 17.8% (15th) Ducks – 21.7% (8th)
PENALTY KILL: Hawks – Still not talking about it Ducks – 82.6% (12th)
TRENDS: Perry hasn’t scored since Oct. 26th.. Getzlaf has 8 even-strength goals in a season and a quarter
I suppose this could be the last Black Friday the Hawks spend in Anaheim. I doubt anyone is going to complain about it. But this is how it has always worked, and it will do so again this afternoon. The Hawks will arrive at the “Ponda” Center to see a Ducks team that seems pretty intent on shooting itself in the face, both in the GM’s office and behind the bench. And so far, they’re succeeding at it.
The Ducks sit fourth in the decidedly underwhelming Pacific, having lost their last two at home to the Kings and Islanders (and still bitching about their shootout loss to the Isles, because the Ducks are good at that sort of thing). You may say to yourself, “Say, aren’t these jamokes now coached by Randy Carlyle? And isn’t he some kind of dinosaur that would have the Ducks playing the wrong way?” And you’d be right! While Bruce Boudreau has his faults, he was always able to keep the Ducks above water in possession and playing up-tempo, and then was able to adjust last year when they had horrific luck to a solid defensive team. Carlyle does none of these things, but he does yell a lot and play a lot of dunderheads like Jared Boll and CatButt. As a result, the Ducks are in the bottom half of most sabermetric categories. And they’re getting older.
Having Hampus! Hampus! getting up to game-speed during the season certainly hasn’t helped, and neither has Ryan Getzlaf’s normal “I’m gonna float around the outside and just try and hit Perry’s tape” routine that he’s fallen more and more into and seen him get his clocked cleaned every playoffs. Oh look, baldy has one goal in 20 games! How could that be?
The Ducks are getting a death rattle production from Ryan Kesler, who I’m sure can keep shooting 16% the rest of the season. The second line of Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg has been pretty dynamic considering the speed it has on the wings. Vermette has been good on the third line as far as scoring, but is continuing his downward trend in possession numbers. And wouldn’t you know, the Ducks lead the league in penalty minutes per game. It’s almost like they’re dumb! How could a team with Boll, Perry, Bieksa, Kesler, and a host of others be dumb? I don’t get it either.
The Ducks tried to give the goalie job to John Gibson but he hasn’t grabbed it with both hands yet. Meanwhile, Jonathan Bernier has been pretty excellent in half the time, so this won’t be another situation that Carlyle can totally bone either. No word yet on which will go today, but it’s still likely Gibson.
As for the Hawks, it’s questionable whether Jonathan Toews will come back from whatever ailed him in San Jose, though the safe approach is to hold him out, especially with Kesler aching to cross-check him in whatever might be hurting. The Hawks are on the verge of not having a successful trip, and would need to win both of these to achieve that, but there are bigger battles down the line. OF course, without Toews we see just how thin the Hawks get down the middle and at forward overall. But the kids looked lively in San Jose, so hopefully they do so again.
Crawford will go today and Darling will get the start in downtown L.A. last night. The Hawks have made a habit of kicking the Ducks around on this day, and the plane remains the same. Don’t buy into their bullshit, cash in on the power plays they most certainly will give you, and try and take advantage of your greater speed in the bottom six. Every time the Ducks come out trying to squash the Hawks against the walls, and that will only be worse with Carlyle calling the shots. Duck them, go around them, and score. Pretty simple.