The Anaheim Ducks close out their long road trip tonight with a matchup against the New York Rangers in the newly renovated Madison Square Garden. It will be the second meeting of the teams this year, with the Ducks rolling over the Rangers at Honda Center in October by the score of 6-0.
Currently 4-2-1 on the road trip, the Ducks will welcome back a familiar face in Luca Sbisa, who will make his season debut. He had been out with a sprained ankle and will replace Sami Vatanen in the lineup tonight.
With one game before they head home, the Ducks success on the trip hasn’t come without a cost, seeing several players go down with injuries. Some have returned, others like Saku Koivu are still absent from the lineup. One thing has remained and will be the key to tonight’s success will be the Ducks play 5-on-5.
On the season, the Ducks have the best even strength goal ratio (1.91), and needs to be with the league’s worst power play and second worst penalty kill. The Rangers on the other hand, have the second to last goal ration on even strength, and have a power play that is tied for 12th in the league. So the Ducks must continue their success 5-on-5, along with staying out of the box.
Along with even strength play, and stayin out of the penalty box, both teams must get off to a quick start and work fast. Both teams are two of the top teams in the league at protecting the lead. The Rangers have a .857 win% when they score the first goals, followed closely behind the Anaheim’s .778 (9th).
One last stat to watch tonight will be shots on goal. Neither team varies much in terms of shots for and against, but when the Rangers are outshot in a game, they have a .200 winning percentage. Meaning getting the puck to the net is a must, even when a shot isn’t there.
So the three keys to victory tonight for the Ducks,
1. Start fast, protect lead
2. Take advantage of even strength
3. Out shoot the Rangers
Anthony Murphy is the Co-Editor of Pucks Of A Feather. You can follow him on Twitter @AMurphyTFC