Ducks Prove Playoffs Aren’t a Mirage as They Head to Arizona

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Kevin Bieksa
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Kevin Bieksa /

The Anaheim Ducks are in Arizona tonight to face the Coyotes. Tucker Muse has your game day preview.

It’s official! The Anaheim Ducks are in full flight! For a team that’s fluttered in the face of turbulence for most of the season, the Ducks are eyeing the playoffs after winning four straight. Tonight, Anaheim looks to solidify their playoff position with a win over the last-place Arizona Coyotes. While tonight’s game should equate to two points, there are no guarantees in the NHL. Here’s what to watch for:

Water! Water!

The Coyotes might have an atrocious record, but they have some surprising underlying stats going for them. For instance, they’re 3rd to last for power play opportunities against in addition to being 6th in the NHL in hits. A take away right there is they play a physical yet disciplined brand of hockey. As a Ducks fan, that doesn’t add up to me.

Per Dave Vest, Antti Raanta will start tonight in goal tonight for Arizona. Raanta is having a decent year for the Coyotes and sits tied for 18th in the NHL for both SV% (.921) and GAA (2.53). For a Ducks team that has a nasty habit of playing down to their opponent’s level, Raanta is not the goalie they want to let be a factor.

What’s On The Horizon?

While Arizona isn’t quite the failure everyone thought, tonight isn’t the night for games. The Ducks have a job to do. They need two points, and to get those two points they need to score 5-on-5. The Coyotes have a terrible Corsi ratio (5th to last). Moreover, they’re even worse off for even strength goals against (4th to last). Those red flags signify the importance of winning the neutral zone and establishing a forecheck. This is the weakness to exploit.

With the trade deadline right around the corner, the time is right now to show Ducks GM Bob Murray that this is a playoff team. Right now, at this very moment, Murray is unsure. However, a win tonight will change his perception, so save the drama for the movies, and go out there and win this hockey game!

Ducks Notes

  • Per Eric Stevens, of the OCR, Ducks Goalie John Gibson didn’t skate at practice yesterday. It’s a strong indication that he will be unavailable for Anaheim’s two games this weekend.
  • Ryan Getzlaf will make his 900th appearance as a Duck by playing in tonight’s game. Only Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne have accomplished the feat.
  • Ryan Miller has stopped 45 consecutive third-period shots since February 6.