GAMETIME: 7:30pm Central
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio
Wabbit Season!: Anaheim Calling
Oh my god, he mentioned objective data analysis and run prevention and......sorry, still a bit abuzz about the Theo presser. The Cubs are run be a real live adult!
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Obviously, there's a whole Daffy Duck theme to today's header, but as some of you know Daffy is one of my heroes, and others will attest that I have him tattooed on my torso. Anyway, that again has nothing to do with anything, and I probably should get to talking about something that has to do with something. Right.
The Hawks are facing a team tonight that's coming off two ugly losses at home, and is beginning a seven-game road trip tonight. The Ducks had a pretty good 4-1 start to the season, and that included two victories over their Golden State rivals San Jose. Jonas Hiller looked pretty good, and the Ducks were chugging right along. This past weekend though, the Ducks hit a pothole and now the suspension is off. Hiller saw eight goals from the Stars and Coyotes -- not exactly Seal Squad 6 -- fly by him. And now they sit at 4-3.
But there are more problems than Hiller's brief struggles. This Ducks team is scoring at the rate of the AV Dept. kids in high school (maybe that metaphor doesn't work any more, as dorks are "in". I have no idea who the kids like to bone these days. And I probably don't want to). They have 15 in seven games, and some of that can be attributed to their RPG line (Ryan, Getzlaf, Perry) isn't firing on all cylinders quite yet. And when they're not, Anaheim is in serious do-do because there's just almost no secondary scoring here. There's ageless wonder and Speed Racer wannabe Teemu Selanne. Past that, you got a fistful o' nothin', kid. Unless you want to put your eggs in the Saku Koivu basket. But that's an old and rickety basket.
Don't look at the bottom six for the Ducks, it may burn your retinas. And watching Andrew Cogliano take faceoffs has to be one of the world's greatest farces being performed these days. Complicating matters is that Ryan Getzlaf just isn't playing to his abilities right now. He's not being as physical as he should be, he's winning 30% of his draws, and he barely wants to shoot. He did score twice against Phoenix, both off tip-ins. So at least he's showing some desire to get somewhere near the net. Let's hope he still doesn't care much tonight.
As for the Anaheim blue line....whatever. Lubomir Visnovsky has been piling up the points for a year and a half, and is ably backstopped by Toni Lydman. But beyond that, well, questions are all you might find. Cam Fowler shows tons of promise some nights, and other nights it's Duck Amuck (did it again). Francois Beachemin hasn't been the same player since stealing Brian Burke's money in Toronto. Luca Sbisa is fine, but seems to be in red ass Randy Carlyle's doghouse on the 3rd pairing.
As for the Hawks, no injury concerns or lineup changes from what we can glean. Although Q changed things up late in the game against Colorado, with Vik Rattlehead moving to Toews's line, Sharp down with Kane and Hossa, and Carcillo to the 4th, I think we'll see everyone return to where they were to start. But I'm not stating anything for sure. Sadly, the story is probably true on defense, so another night of Keith and Leddy skating furiously in mismatched patterns worthy of the MCA. Mr. Crawley gets the start.
Pretty big juxtaposition in styles going from the Avs to the Ducks. Anaheim will do everything they can to avoid a 4x400 that the Avalanche weren't afraid to engage in with the Hawks. Look for many pucks to be put behind Leddy, Keith, and Hjalmarsson to see how they handle becoming a tickle-me-Elmo against the end boards (by the way, did you know Elmo is voiced by a big black guy?). While the Ducks won't trap per se, they're certainly not going to make the neutral zone an open runway either. The Hawks will have to be satisfied chipping pucks behind the Ducks D and winning the races to them, which they should be able to do. Especially doing this to Lydman, Beauchemin, Brookbank, and Foster who are either not that swift or mistake-prone. Hitting Visnovsky isn't a bad idea either.
All that's required to change from Saturday is a bit of tightening defensively. Seal those cracks, and the Ducks will really struggle to score. Oh, and make the bevy of power plays the Ducks are so willing to give you count. It's like Anaheim is addicted to smelling sin bin air.