One game: that is all that stands between the Ducks and their first trip to the Conference Finals since the Cup winning year of 2007. The Ducks’ composure, depth and will put out the Flames in Game 4 and moved the Duck one step closer to hockey’s ultimate prize.
The first period started just how the Ducks wanted; unfortunately the rest of the frame didn’t go as planned. After a flurry of chances for each team started the game the Ducks would get a power-play as Corey Perry was high sticked. On the ensuing man advantage the dynamic duo of last series Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg struck to put the Ducks up 1-0. Kesler found a streaking Silfverberg whose shot was deflected and tucked in neatly under the crossbar. The lead however would be short-lived as the Flames struck quickly with a goal from Sean Monahan after Johnny Gaudreau skated the length of the ice and Monahan cleaned up the trash. Things went from bad to worse as a neutral zone turnover turned into a Michael Ferland goal as he put a slap shot in short side on Frederik Andersen. Turnover can be deadly but this was a shot that Andersen should stop and needs to stop in this situation. Hostile road game for Game 4 after losing in over-time of Game 3. This needed to be a statement period and take some life out of the Flames, and while the Ducks played their game and settled things down as the period went on it wasn’t the opening stanza they wanted.
The second period saw a little less of a pond hockey style and both teams generate zone time. Especially the top line of the Ducks (Maroon-Getzlaf-Perry) with their size and cycle game and Flames (Hudler-Monahan-Gaudreau) with their speed and stick handling. It looked like the score would remain the same until the unsung hero of the Ducks Andrew Cogliano broke through. With just a few minutes remaining and following a failed Ducks power-play, Gaudreau picked up the puck in his own end. While trying to stickhandle out of the zone he had his pocket picked by Cogliano. The puck slide to Kyle Palmieri in the slot who one touched it back to Cogs where he beat Ramo five-hole to even things up headed to the 3rd period.
It’s said numerous times every post-season by coaches, players, fans etc. In the playoffs you need to play between the whistles and contain your emotions. Joe Colborne apparently decided that wasn’t how he’d play. As the 2nd period buzzer sounded Colborne hit François Beauchemin and clipped him with a high stick. That resulted in the Ducks starting the 3rd period with a four minute power-play and a power-play that has found their game in the playoffs. And the Ducks made them pay. Silfverberg got a shot away with Kesler setting the screen and although Karri Ramo made the stop Matt Beleskey was there to clean up the rebound. That’s Beleskey’s fourth goal in the four games this series and he seems to be finding his scoring touch once again. The Ducks played sound the rest of the way and Maroon salted the game away with just over 30 second as he backhanded the puck into the empty net.
Anders-Mountain Stands Tall:
Frederik Andersen has looked sensational in these playoffs, a far cry from where he was this time last season. Andersen has been locked in since the post-season began and has been a big reason why the Ducks are in the position they are currently in. Yes the Ferland goal was a bad goal to give up and it’s the ones you can’t allow this time of year. But Andersen didn’t get rattled or shell-shocked by it and came back with a vengeance. Including, making a save that was the turning point in this game.
The Ducks were down 2-1 in the second period with just about 14:30 left the Flames were buzzing and got a shot through from the right point. Andersen made the save through traffic and the puck kicked out to the left side where a streaking Gaudreau thought he could pop it in the net. Andersen slid across and robbed him with the glove and pad to keep the deficit at one.
The Ducks would in turn tie the score when Andrew Cogliano stripped the a fore mentioned Gaudreau and beat Ramo five hole. If Gaudreau scores there’s the Ducks are down 3-1 not even halfway through the second and that building is rocking. But Andersen recovered and made the save and gave his team a chance to tie and win the game. That all you can ask of your goalie and Andersen can lead this team to a Stanley Cup.
Batman & Robin:
Ducks fans refer to Sami Vatanen as “The Vatman” so that leaves the mantle of Batman to Ryan Kesler and his sidekick Robin to Jakob Silfverberg. So much is made of the skill, chemistry, tenacity, and capability of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and deservedly so. But there may be another dynamic duo in SoCal in the form of Kesler and Silfverberg.
They combined numerous times to bring down the Winnipeg Jets last series and they were major reasons why the Ducks extinguished the Flames tonight. Silfverberg was part of the Bobby Ryan deal a few years back and had some up and down times since he arrived in Anaheim. He’s a young player that has never had a center with the skill and ability Ryan Kesler does and they’re both reaping the rewards. Silfverberg has become a complete player winning puck battles, making plays, going into corners, and has an absolutely insane release of a shot. Kesler can do it all winning face-offs, outworking and winning pucks, throwing his weight around, play-making and goal scoring. They bring out the best in each other and give the Ducks another 1-2 punch. So far they have dominated in the post-season and allowed Getzlaf-Perry more opportunities as teams can’t possibly contain both sets of them. If the Ducks want to lift the Cup in June Kesler and Silfverberg will be major reason why they’ll earn the right to.
Depth Reigns Supreme:
The Ducks won 4-2 tonight and not a single point was from Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry. In years past this would have been unheard of but these are not the Ducks of the past and they know up and down the line-up they have something special here. The Ducks are getting major contributions from guys like Silfverberg (9 points), Maroon (7 points) and Cogliano (6 points) just to name a few. In fact of all the Ducks to appear in the 8 games they have played so far every player has at least a point with the exception of Tim Jackman and Clayton Stoner.
The Ducks have a combined 26 points from their defense on top of all of them making great and smart plays with the puck and being stout defensively. You need your stars to shine through but secondary scoring is what gets it done in the post-season and the Ducks have it like never before. They can roll four lines and feel just as confident both offensively and defensively. The depth is giving other teams fits as they can’t just focus in on one player and almost everyone is a threat to score.
The chemistry among the lines and the way they play for one another is how you win championship and while there is still lots of work for them to do the Ducks are absolutely a force to be reckoned with.
The Ducks have a chance to end this on home ice and move on to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since Lord Stanley was won by the Ducks in o7”. The clinching game is the hardest to win but the Ducks will have the opportunity to end it in their building, a building that the Flames have lost 22 straight times in. They need to come out and play a full 60, impose their will and end this. There is no reason they should have to visit the great white north again, finish them now!