Anaheim Ducks look to stay in win column against Sabres


The Anaheim Ducks are a team on short list of Stanley Cup contenders, while the Buffalo Sabres are front runners to land the first overall pick in this summer’s draft. The two will square off tonight in the third game for each of them. The Ducks are 1-1-0 on the young season and continue their four-game opening road trip in Buffalo.

The Sabres are 0-2 after dropping their home-opener to the Blue Jackets 3-1 and getting bounced 6-2 by the Blackhawks in Chicago. Buffalo isn’t a great team and these are points the Ducks need to pick up in a stacked Pacific Division. Buffalo is extremely young and it shows in their results. They were tied with both the Jackets and Blackhawks entering the third periods of each game. They would go on to allow two goals to the Jackets and four to the Blackhawks to lose. That shows a young inexperienced group that was taken by superior teams that know how to close out games.

The Ducks have star power and a roster the Sabres just can’t match up with. The Ducks need to play up to their level and not down to the Sabres and control this game from start to finish.

With no injured players returning I would imagine the lines and defensive pairs remain basically intact from how they looked in Detroit. The Rakell-Karlsson slot could be a revolving door so 50/50 on who draws in for this game. Offensively the Ducks need to exploit the mismatch in the rosters. There is no one on the Buffalo roster that can handle the Getzlaf line or the Kesler line and they need to score early and often.

If there is one thing young and inexperienced teams boast its confidence in staying in games. If you allow a team to hang around no matter inferior or not they can make you pay. So the Ducks need to play their game from the start. Do what they do best, get pucks in deep, get that dynamic cycling game going and put pucks in the net early and often. Last year the Ducks beat the Sabres 6-3 in Buffalo with 2 goals apiece from Corey Perry and Emerson Etem and followed that up with a 6-2 win at Honda Center thanks in large part to a first period hat trick from Ryan Getzlaf. Yes the Sabres have some new pieces from last year but one of those new pieces is between the pipes for them. The Ducks did that damage last year against Ryan Miller who now mans the crease in Vancouver.

This season the Ducks will get a look most likely at Jonas Enroth who is not Ryan Miller. Another area where the Ducks need to score goals in bunches and not allow Enroth to look like an All-Star.

Speaking of goaltending we know who will be in the net for the home team the question is who mans the crease for the Ducks? Smart money says it will be Frederik Andersen after a great winning performance in Detroit that saw him make 27 stops a few of which were breakaways or odd-man situations that allowed the Ducks pull out a win. Normal logic would say you keep rewarding the hot, winning goalie until he loses and that would put Andersen in the crease. John Gibson did not fare well opening night in Pittsburgh where it seemed at times to be a carry-over from Game 7 last year. Not that all 6 goals were his fault but a few he needs to have especially after the Ducks fought to tie the game mid-way through the second period.

Going up against what on paper seems to be an inferior team this could be a confidence boost for Gibson but how do you sit Andersen after his play? If I’m Boudreau you continue to let Gibson sit a few more and show him look if we can win with this guy he’s in and you need to bring you A game. My worst fear following that Game 7 loss was it would stick with Gibson and shake his confidence. Its only one game in but it seems to have had a little effect on him. He is the future of the Ducks net but he needs to shake it off and get back to playing to the level he is capable of. This guy has the making of one of the greatest goalies to play and he needs to use that loss as motivation to get back to that spot and win. But for now Andersen is my goalie.

If the Ducks play like they did in Detroit they’ll win this game going away. Winning in dramatic fashion with just a little over 20 seconds to play should be a spark to keep that level of play up. And they need to be playing at a high level because following the Buffalo game the Ducks finish their first road trip in Philly before heading home to play teams such as the Wild, Blues, and Sharks. They knew it in the off-season that every game would be a battle and they couldn’t take any nights off to stay on top in what may be the toughest division in the NHL. It was tough to lose opening night but I don’t think you’d hear too many fans complain if the Ducks finish the trip with two wins, and return home at 3-1-0