The first game of the Stanley Cup playoffs was a roller coaster ride, to say the least, with the Anaheim Ducks coming out with a win.
In the recent weeks we have seen the Ducks get behind in the first period many times. The Ducks eventually turn it on and come from behind pulling out wins late in the third period or overtime.
Yesterday was a role reversal for the Ducks.
The Ducks came out determined in the first period scoring three goals in a row. Kyle Palmieri got the Ducks scoring started in the first two minutes of the game. Ryan Getzlaf would score later in the period, followed by Mathieu Perreault on the power play. The first period was perfect for the Ducks. The Ducks created odd man rushes, had sustained pressure in the offensive zone, and took command of the game at 3-0.
The second period started the same as the first. The Ducks kept pushing and got a second power play goal from Matt Beleskey.
Half way through the game it seemed like the Ducks would cruise to victory, right?
With less than five minutes to go in the second period the Ducks were called for two penalties within about a minute of each other. The second penalty was for too many man on the ice and gave the Dallas Stars almost a full minute of a 5-on-3 power play. This was a bad undisciplined penalty to take while already being short-handed. The Stars scored on the two-man advantage and then scored again shortly after the second penalty expired.
The once commanding lead was now a 4-2 advantage going into the third period.
In the third period the Ducks held down the fort by mostly clogging up the neutral zone and clearing pucks out of their defensive zone. It seemed like the time could not move fast enough for the Ducks. The Ducks defensive shell strategy could only last for so long. The Stars scored with about six minutes left in the game making the faithful crowd in attendance nervous.
With just over a minute left, the Stars pulled their goalie, but the Ducks were able to hang on to win 4-3.
1. First Period: The Ducks came out on fire scoring the first three goals and putting the pressure on the Stars. I like the Ducks chances in every game when they score first and often.
2. Odd Man Rushes: The Ducks were able to create turnovers and get some odd man rushes. The Ducks took advantage scoring a few times on these opportunities. The Stars are a pretty fast team, but the Ducks are just as fast if not faster on odd man rushes.
3. Power Play: The Ducks played better with the man advantage going 2 for 5 on the night. Some good passing led to a close range goal by Perreault. A good screen in front of the Stars crease led to Beleskey’s goal. The Ducks need to continue screening the opposing goalie to have success.
Areas of Improvement:
1. Line Changes: For some odd reason the Ducks line changes were not smooth. There were several times the Ducks looked a little disorganized near their bench. The referees noticed as the Ducks were called two times for too many men on the ice. These are simple mistakes that I am sure Bruce Boudreau will address.
2. Killer Instinct: The tendency of teams that get a large lead is to play a dump and chase style of game. Teams slow the game down by crowding the neutral zone, causing turnovers, and dumping the puck back in the opposing teams defensive zone. This does work, but the team with the lead still needs to sustain offensive zone pressure. When the Ducks get a large lead they need to stay with what got the lead in the beginning. Good offensive zone pressure and establishing the cycle will wear the opposing team down and run the clock.
3. Lesson Learned: This game proved to the Ducks that Stars are not just going to lay down and give up even after being down by four goals. The Ducks need to stay focused and play a solid 60 minutes every game. One bad period can lead to a loss. This game will serve as a good teaching point for Boudreau as the Ducks move forward onto Game 2 on Friday.
Follow Pucks of a Feather on Twitter.
Like Pucks of a Feather on Facebook.