Anaheim Ducks Aim to End Preseason on a High Note Against Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 21: Christian Dvorak #18 of the Arizona Coyotes looks for the puck as Derek Grant #38 of the Anaheim Ducks skates past during the first period of an NHL preseason game at Gila River Arena on September 21, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 21: Christian Dvorak #18 of the Arizona Coyotes looks for the puck as Derek Grant #38 of the Anaheim Ducks skates past during the first period of an NHL preseason game at Gila River Arena on September 21, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Preseason is coming to a close for the Anaheim Ducks, with one more exhibition on the schedule. The Arizona Coyotes are in town, and after back to back wins, the Ducks are hoping to end things on a high note.

Preseason is almost over, which means we’re that much closer to opening day at Honda Center! The Anaheim Ducks are fresh of two back to back wins against the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, and with the Arizona Coyotes in town, the team is looking to end their preseason the same way it started, with a win; a sure way to get the fans pumped up for the impending regular season.

While we shouldn’t put much stock in what happens during these exhibition games, the past two games have been a nice treat. Granted, the roster for all three teams was nowhere close to what we will see in the regular season. Nevertheless, we’ve seen the Ducks take strides in the right direction, and that is a good sign as they prepare for what could be a difficult season ahead.

Tonight is, however, an important game in more ways than one. For many of the players currently on the training camp roster, this is their last chance to impress the coaching staff for a chance at making the team on opening day. This is also an opportunity for Dallas Eakins to experiment with line combinations before he must make decisions on a more permanent roster lineup.

Tonight Could be the End of the Line for Some of the Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks currently have a roster that is simply too large for opening night against the Arizona Coyotes. While it has been trimmed down significantly since the start of training camp, there is still a little trimming left to do. Tonight could be the end of the line for a few of the players still on the roster, and when the final buzzer sounds, one or more of them could be on their way to San Diego.

Isac Lundestrom: Isac Lundestrom has shown growth and improvement over the course of the preseason. During Wednesday night’s exhibition against the San Jose Sharks, he slotted in between Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg, making the Swedish line a dominant force for the Anaheim Ducks. Credited with the secondary assist on Silfverberg’s power-play goal, the Anaheim Ducks 2018 first-round draft pick has made a strong case for himself to start the season with the big club.

With the extent of Sam Steel‘s injury currently unknown, that means the Ducks could be going into the regular season with one center spot unclaimed until further notice. With the electric chemistry he showed with his two other Swedish linemates, there is the potential for him to redeem himself from his underwhelming performance with the Ducks last season. However, should he fail to impress the coaching staff tonight, Dallas Eakins has several players he can use for a plan b.

Maxime Comtois and Max Jones: In the short amount of time he has spent with the big club, Max Comtois has quickly become a fan favorite. Although he is young, he showed a lot of promise in just a few games with Anaheim. He would make a great addition to the Anaheim Ducks should the team be given the opportunity to make room for him. However, Comtois has a little bit of competition when it comes to claiming a roster spot.

Max Jones has had a far more impressive preseason than many of his fellow prospects, aside from Brendan Guhle, hence why he has yet to be assigned to San Diego. Jones has been impressive in front of the net, but is also one of the teams best defensive forwards. However, there is the worry that he will wind up snake bitten once again. It’s going to be a tight race between the two Max’s to see who, if either of them, make the team.

Simon Benoit and Josh Mahura: If Simon Benoit and Josh Mahura don’t become NHL players this season, they will be in the near future. Both have had a rather quiet preseason, being outshone by Brendan Guhle and Jacob Larsson. It is doubtful that either will make the team out of training camp, but if either of them has a chance, tonight is their night to prove that they belong on the Anaheim Ducks roster.

Keys to the Game

Don’t Let the Defense Break Down: The Anaheim Ducks haven’t looked bad defensively in their past few games, aside from a few blunders. I’m sure both Ryan Miller and John Gibson have been thankful for the break. However, with this team, they can go from 60 to 0 in less than five seconds, and in this league, that isn’t going to work if they want to have some semblance of success in the next 82 games.

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Tonight’s defensive pairings are very reminiscent of what we will likely see in the regular season. Both the Hampus LindholmJosh Manson and Brendan Guhle-Cam Fowler pairings have shown flashes of brilliance in the preseason. If they can continue to play off of each other’s strengths, with the added consistency from Jacob Larsson and Korbinian Holzer,  they should be golden. However, it is when they start to take unwanted risks and ease their foot off the gas they start making mistakes. Which leads us to our second key of the game.

Slowing Down is Not an Option: The Anaheim Ducks have been a lively bunch the past two weeks, until they aren’t. The team has the tendency to sit on their lead and slow down; that is why they make mistakes that cost them. It is a bad habit they learned under the Randy Carlyle regime and it is a habit that Dallas Eakins desperately needs to break. It quantifies as laziness, and a lazy team isn’t going anywhere in today’s NHL.

The entire team needs to make sure they are putting the pressure on the opposing team, creating chances, acting defensively sound, and working together as one well-oiled machine. They cannot rely on two or three players to keep up with their opponents while their teammates spend the rest of the game picking daisies in the neutral zone.

Generate Offense: The forward core needs to step it up a notch the closer they get to the regular season. There’s no doubt that this season’s team is going to be a lot more fun to watch than last seasons. Nevertheless, if they aren’t generating offense and scoring goals, how do they suppose they’re going to win games?

Their struggles to produce last year really hurt them in the long run, and despite what Randy Carlyle said, this team should be winning games by more than one goal. If the Ducks can generate some good offense tonight, along with following the two keys above, they should have no issues ending their preseason on a high note.

Next. Ducks Continue Impressive Roll in Game Five. dark

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