None of what comes in this post is going to be much of a surprise to you. After reading us breaking down the entire Ducks team, you probably know where we think this is headed. But thanks to the NHL and their infinitely genius scheduling, we’ve still got time to kill. So let’s look into the crystal ball.
(Although I guess I understand the series didn’t start tonight, as with Kanye playing the Honda Center tomorrow it probably takes all of today to stuff his aura into the arena).
It’s probably folly to look at regular season games to determine playoff outcomes. There are a lot of factors during the six month slog that don’t apply here, and the Ducks haven’t seen this Hawks team with Vermette and Teuvo actually playing. But there’s some instructive stuff.
In the Ducks’ shutout win here in October, Jonathan Toews’s line against Lindholm and Beauchemin put up a +19 in Corsi. That’s 85% if you prefer percentages. And this wasn’t that score influenced, as Smith-Pelley’s shorty came in the 3rd period. That also game against Getzlaf for the most part, who was out attempted 15-5 by Toews. This was still when Q had Kane skating with Andrew Shaw, though it was pretty quickly after this that he scrapped that idea. Even with that, Kane was able to draw even against Fowler and Kesler at center.
We move to Black Friday, an authoritative Hawks win. Bruce Boudreau, as is his wont, didn’t really bother matching lines with the Hawks. Brad Richards went 11-1 on attempts against Hampus! Hampus! and Vatanen, as Beauchemin was hurt. Andrew Shaw was a +7 on this day.
We move to January. Once again the Hawks racked up a 57% Corsi percentage as a team, and that’s with basically taking off the 3rd period as they had this one sewn up. It was 66% in the first two periods. Boudreau somewhat half heartedly tried to get Beauchemin and Hampus! Hampus! out against Toews, and he skulled them again. Richards and Kane ran riot against Fowler, with Sharp tallying four assists on that line.
So what exactly what’s changed? There are too many threats for this Ducks’ line to cover. I found it pretty hilarious that Josh Cooper on Puck Daddy today asserted that any of the Ducks’ pairings could be top pairings on other teams? What tubes? Where are these tubes? It’s certainly not any of the teams left playing. They don’t have a Victor Hedman. Is it any of the teams just eliminated? Not Minnesota, as Suter and Brodin is better than anything the Ducks have to offer. Caps? John Carlson is probably better than anything wearing that awful “D”. Not better than Giordano and Brodie for sure. There’s no PK Subban here either. There are a couple Andrei Markov’s, and that’s not a good thing.
Even if, for argument’s sake, Beauchemin and Hampus! Hampus! keep Toews’s line quiet in Anaheim, and that’s if Boudreau chases that and those are big ifs, and matches Kesler with Toews, where’s it go from there. Richards’s line had serious possession problems against Minnesota, and if Boudreau could put down the fork long enough to see that and exploits that with Getzlaf, that’s where things could get jumpy. But Q would still have some combo of Keith, Seabrook, Oduya, and Hammer to support. And is Clayton Stoner really keeping Patrick Sharp quiet? That’s Patrick Sharp of the career 14 goals and 29 points in 30 games against the Ducks…
That doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong. You’ll recall that last year when the Hawks ate it to a SoCal team, the Kings’ power play was a real issue. But the Kings could also stick with the Hawks at evens, and combine the two and that’s why you get their decisive wins in Games 2-4. Does anyone in their right mind think the Ducks are sticking with the Hawks at evens? There’s simply nothing to suggest that.
I suppose Frederik Andersen could morph into an Infinity Stone wielding beast. But there’s nothing to suggest that either. He’s got a 30-save shutout of the Flames, and he gave up four goals to the Jets in Game when facing 35. Those are the only two times he’s seen more than 30 shots in these playoffs. He had a decent series against Dallas last year before getting pulled than hurt against the Kings. Again, there’s nothing to suggest he’s capable of stealing a series, though there isn’t much to indicate he’ll lose it on his own either.
Show me an area other than the power play where the Ducks have a serious advantage. Top end scoring? ‘fraid not. Forward depth? The Hawks’ bottom six carries more aside from Andrew Cogliano. Defense? You’ll pull a muscle laughing. Goaltending? Nope.
The Hawks aren’t going to lose a series because of a power play.
It could take an hour. Maybe a day. Actually, it takes 5 games.