The Anaheim Ducks are beginning another road trip tonight when they make their first stop in Sunrise, Florida to visit the Florida Panthers. This is a bit of a rare matchup that we will see twice a year from now on, but these two teams have only played each other eight times in the last 10 years. The Ducks come into the game as the best in the NHL while the Panthers enter this game second to last in the Eastern Conference and on a nine game losing streak, including five straight losses at home.
Season Series: N/A (First meeting this season)
The last time these two teams met, the Panthers wore uniforms they don’t have anymore. The last time these two teams met, Niklas Hagman scored the empty netter to seal a 2-0 victory. The last time these two teams met, George Parros got in a fight with Krys Barch of the Panthers. The last time these two teams met, the Ducks’ win put them one game over .500 (25-24-10).
Keys to the Game:
- : Turnovers were a huge problem in their last game and they cannot allow the Ducks to get as many gifts as they gave to the New York Rangers on Sunday.
- : Their getting close to tying the franchise record for longest losing streak and they don’t want that to happen, obviously.
- : It doesn’t matter who is between the pipes, chances are they’re going too give you a chance to win.
- : Spend less time in their own zone and more in their opponents, that was not the case against the Vancouver Canucks.
Players to Watch:
- – G – Tim Thomas: Sometimes this players to watch part is for the wrong reasons……..This is definitely the case because Thomas has been worse than bad in his return to the NHL.
- – D – Brian Campbell: Probably the best player on the team. He’s a very aggressive offensive defenseman who is at his best when he has the puck.
- – RW – Corey Perry: He stepped up his game on Sunday with captain Ryan Getzlaf out of the lineup. He has points in every game so far this month.
- – C – Mathieu Perreault: He got time as the top line center last game and I would expect that to be the case tonight. He has proved himself a very valuable offensive threat so far this season.
Keeping it simple here, the Ducks are one of the best teams in the league if not the best and the Panthers are not. Their hope for goaltender Jacob Markstrom becoming the every night starter in net isn’t coming true as he has been sent back down to the AHL. Instead they have a goaltending tandem of Thomas and Steve Clemmenson. They don’t score many goals and they allow way too many goals. They have the second worst goal differential in the entire league, only the Buffalo Sabres are worse and we’ve already seen them twice this year, so we know how bad they are. No offense, Buffalo. They do have two young forwards who have some bright futures in this league, though. Rookie Aleksander Barkov has 2 G and 7 A for 9 P in 18 GP and Jonathan Huberdeau has got as much talent and potential as any young gun in this league. Nick Bjugstad, another youngster who has got a ton of skill as well and has great size, has points in three straight games. Overall, their honeymoon with the “We See Red” campaign is definitely over. Two years ago they won their division and pushed the eventual Eastern Conference Champions to the brink in a triple overtime Game 7 thriller. The bottom line here is that if the Ducks lose tonight, I would actually be upset. I usually abide by the theory, any team can win any game, but in this case……no.
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