May 6, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) and Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) battle for the puck in the third period in game four of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Anaheim Ducks Return Home For Game 5 Vs. Detroit Red Wings

With the series tied at 2 games a piece between the Anaheim Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings, game 5 tonight could prove to be one of the biggest in the series.

The Ducks return to the Honda Center ice tonight after losing game 4 in Detroit in overtime on Monday.  Game 4 showed us what may have been the most determined Red Wings yet, as the Red Wings set out to redeem themselves after a 4-0 Ducks win in game 3.  Increasing the stakes for the Red Wings was their loss of Justin Abdelkader who was suspended  after his hit on Toni Lydman in game 3.  The Red Wings in turn came out in game 4 and found a way to  score two goals in the third and the game winner in overtime to win it, 3-2.

Not surprisingly the Ducks are looking to improve their game tonight.

The Ducks were clearly disappointed after the loss on Monday, especially considering that the Red Wings loss of Abdelkader would have seemingly swayed things in the Ducks favor.  Instead the Ducks found themselves being outplayed and outshot, two things they seek to correct tonight.  Abdelkader will not play again tonight, thus affecting the Red Wings top line.  The Ducks however are again without Toni Lydman, who continues to struggle with headaches and neck pain after the hit from Abdelkader in game 3.

Tonight’s game may very well be the most pivotal of the series, as tonight’s winner will be in the driver’s seat.

No matter what this series is going to a minimum of six games before it will find a winner, but the question is who will be in control and who will be fighting for their playoff lives?  In order to win tonight the Ducks need to take advantage of two things in particular:

  1. No Justin Abdelkader
  2. Home Ice

 

With no Justin Abdelkader in the lineup it is the responsibility of the Ducks big guns to dominate over Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.  Corey Perry has yet to score a goal in the series and has only notched a single assist.  As the highest paid player on the roster, the Ducks need Corey Perry to play up to his potential.

Home ice is going to become a bigger issue now with games dwindling in the series.  Detroit knew that without Abdelkader they were going to play a more motivated game, and clearly the idea of going into Anaheim down 3 games to 1 didn’t seem like a good one.  So Detroit played an incredibly motivated game and left the Ducks questioning what went wrong in game 4.

Now it’s the Ducks turn to come out motivated, realizing that they a loss tonight means a do-or-die game in Detroit: not a desirable situation.  If the Ducks win tonight the series is in their hands.  Even if they were to lose game 6 there would still be a guaranteed game 7 back in Anaheim, giving our Ducks the advantage.  A loss tonight however and well, things don’t look so good.

Of course what is inferred in all of this is the Ducks need to play smart in their own zone and to get on the forecheck.  The Ducks allowed themselves to get trapped last game and tonight they need to make sure Jonas Hiller isn’t overwhelmed with shots.  Hiller has played great and the Ducks need to help him out.  No better way to do so then to be on the forecheck and let Jimmy Howard feel the terror, (and hopefully that terror comes in the form of Corey Perry).

Tonight’s game can be seen on Fox Sports Prime Ticket for local viewers, and NBC Sports for Non-regional viewers starting at 7 PM, PST.  #GoDucks #Cup4Koivu

 

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Corey Perry Game Preview Jonas Hiller Justin Abdelkader Playoffs Toni Lydman

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