Anaheim Ducks: Keys to Opening Night Win

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Don’t be mesmerized by stars

May 13, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) waits for the puck drop on a face-off against the New York Rangers during the second period in game seven of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Rangers won 2-1 and took the series 4 games to 3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Evgeni Malkin has said that he is “50/50” for Thursday night, but the Penguins still boast players such as Crosby, Chris Kunitz, and Kris Letang. They’re all electric playmakers, but they aren’t the most physical of players. The Penguins are a team that relies on their elite, high-end skill to win games, and they will most likely win if their opposition isn’t aggressive with them from the outset. The Ducks like to play a physical game with a tenacious forecheck, similar to most of the strong teams in the Pacific Division.

Players such as Getzlaf, Perry, Heatley, Kesler, Maroon, and Devante Smith-Pelly love to throw the body around and dish out checks, and they’re supplemented by physical players such as Clayton Stoner on the blue-line. The Ducks need to establish a physical tone early.

The Penguins have notably struggled the past few years against physical teams, including a thrashing by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 playoffs and a thoroughly dominating performance from the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets gave the Penguins all they could handle in six tough games last postseason.

If the Ducks can establish their cycle game early, then it will wear Pittsburgh out as the game goes on, and their players may be more prone to making mistakes with the puck.