Every team has their difference-makers, and these three players could be it for the Anaheim Ducks tonight.
The Detroit Red Wings will meet the Anaheim Ducks at center ice, but this isn’t an opportunity for the Ducks to rest. Tonight will be a true test of their diligence, tenacity, and dedication to the game of hockey. As of late, they’ve lost to teams they really had no right losing to. Of course, every team has those games, but as time goes on, the Ducks have worn their deficiencies on their sleeves. If they want to get back on track, they’re going to have to work together as a team to be cohesive, motivated, and play all 60 minutes of tonight’s hockey game.
Nevertheless, losing three games in a row can shake a team’s confidence. The Anaheim Ducks need leaders to rise from the rubble of their recent losing streak and be difference makers in tonight’s game against the Red Wings.
Brendan Guhle is back in the lineup after spending a four-game stint with the San Diego Gulls. The 22-year-old defenseman has wrestled with the injury bug since being acquired by the Anaheim Ducks in the Brandon Montour trade. Early in the season, he was sidelined with a lower-body injury for six games and, upon his return, he seemed to lack the mentality to make the proper impact at an NHL level.
There is no shame in being sent down to the AHL in order to find yourself again, and that’s just what Guhle did. In just four games with the Gulls, he registered one goal and three assists. He played heavy minutes for the Ducks affiliate club, exuding confidence in all situations, especially on the power play. He seems prepared to slot into the Ducks lineup once again.
With the absence of Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, the Ducks blueline has been lethargic. The addition of Brendan Guhle gives the Ducks a little something to work with. Their defensive core has their share of struggles, but Guhle and Cam Fowler have shown they have incredible chemistry together.
This is not a permanent solution to the problem, but at least, for now, they have two top-four defensemen in the lineup that work well together. Fowler has improved significantly playing on his right side, especially when playing with a likeminded defenseman. Guhle could also be a good option for the Ducks struggling power play, taking some of the pressure off of Fowler.
For only the second time this season, the Detroit Red Wings have won back to back games. While they lost their last contest against the Ducks, they’re sure to come into this game refreshed, energized, and hungry for a win after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2. If the Ducks have any hopes of beating Detroit, it’s time for them to wake up and bring the energy onto the ice. Enter Ondrej Kase.
There is a reason Kase has been dubbed the Energizer Bunny. He brings life and energy to the team and he rarely slows down. His passion for the game is contagious, and tonight, the Ducks could use an extra dose of Ondrej Kase in the locker room, on the ice, and especially on the scoreboard.
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Since returning from his injury, Kase has been slow to get his name back on the score sheet. Granted, it’s only been two games, but he also suffered from a goal drought prior to the hit he took in Dallas. He had a strong game against the Minnesota Wild, and while he played decently against the Oilers, but as a collective, his line did not. Nevertheless, he won’t be paired against Connor McDavid and Leon Drisital tonight.
If Kase can bring the energy, find the back of the net, or set up his linemates to find the back of the net, it could give the Ducks the upper hand tonight. If he continues to perform well on an individual level, and he and his linemates can find their chemistry now that they’re not being decimated by the McDavid line, an argument could be made that Kase could be a prominent player in tonight’s game.
Prior to the season, many fans thought the idea of separating Rickard Rakell from Ryan Getzlaf was absurd. However, since pairing him with a like-minded winger in Jakob Silfverberg, the two players have established themselves as two of the best on the team. Rakell may not be producing up to the fanbases expectation, but in reality, he’s doing the best he can with the hand he’s been dealt.
Despite the Duck’s inability to win their last two games, Rakell has been one of the only players on the team who has given the Ducks a chance. The first to score in both games, he seems to have found his touch once again. For weeks, the Ducks have needed their offense to step up, and Rakell’s line has been the only one that has consistently done so.
Rakell also had a great game last time the Ducks played against the Red Wings. His line was one of the most dominant lines of the game. If he can continue to be a dominant force for the Ducks and continue to shine, the Red Wings are going to struggle when he is out on the ice. He plays well when his team needs him most, and tonight, if the Anaheim Ducks have any hopes of shaking this losing streak, Rakell could be their hero.
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