Anaheim Ducks: Putting Together a Battle Plan to Best the Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 14: Jakob Silfverberg #33 of the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 14, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 14: Jakob Silfverberg #33 of the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 14, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for all summer! The Anaheim Ducks kick off the regular season tonight against the Arizona Coyotes. It’s time to put together a battle plan.

The moment we have been waiting months for is finally upon us. In just a few hours, the Anaheim Ducks will meet the Arizona Coyotes at center ice for the first puck drop of the season. This is shaping up to be a season of redemption; with a new coach, a motivated team, and culture that’s completely different from season’s past, we could see a team that’s willing to compete once again.

Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy The Game

Game 1: Anaheim Ducks vs Arizona Coyotes

Location: Honda Center— Anaheim California

Season Record: 0-0-0

Time: 7:00pm PST

TV: Prime Ticket

Radio: AM830

Injury Update: Ryan Kesler (LTIR)

Anaheim Ducks News: Per Eric Stephens, John Gibson will be available to start in net against the Arizona Coyotes this evening. Sam Steel, Brendan Guhle, Ondrej Kase seem to be a go as well unless reported otherwise prior to the game.

Know Your Enemy

In order to put together a successful battle plan, you have to know your enemy. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What players do the Anaheim Ducks have to worry about? To gain a better perspective, we went snooping around enemy lines, reading up on the Arizona Coyotes at our sister page Howlin’ Hockey.

Unlike the Anaheim Ducks, the Arizona Coyotes made a big acquisition in the offseason to solve one of the team’s biggest issues. Last season, much like the Ducks, the ‘Yotes struggled with goal scoring. Alex Galchenyuk and Brad Richardson were the highest goal scorers with only 19 goals credited to their name. Nevertheless, despite being ranked 27th in goals for, they were ranked higher than the Ducks who finished 31st, which is in dead last.

The Anaheim Ducks have done nothing to improve their goal scoring, aside from roster reconstruction and promoting prospects to full time, but the Arizona Coyotes have traded away last season’s top goal scorer, Alex Galchenyuk, for Phil Kessel, who is a proven goal scorer with at least 25-30 goals a season. Brad Richardson, if he can stay healthy, can also score a good 20-25 goals for the Coyotes as well. This could very well give them the upper hand tonight.

Darcy Kuemper will start in net tonight for Arizona. Their defense was an issue for the team last season, much like the Ducks. If there haven’t been any improvements, it’s quite possible that Kuemper will be put in a similar position John Gibson was put in last year, acting as both the goaltender and the team’s main source of defense.

As Jimmy Lynch, site expert of Howlin’ Hockey, wrote in his game preview: special teams have been a difficult endeavor for the team.

"“One area to watch in the game would be the special teams. The Coyotes had one of the worst power plays in the NHL last year, finishing with 16.28 % average on the PP. Going into the new year trying to score goals on the Power Play needs to be of the upmost importance of the Coyotes. Power play goals mean everything especially in a close game.”"

While special teams haven’t been a cakewalk for the Anaheim Ducks either, their penalty kill has looked decent throughout the course of the preseason. Of course, preseason should be taken with a grain of salt, but, at the same time, it can give us a little bit of insight into how the team will perform in the regular season.

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Now that we’ve learned a little bit about the Desert Dogs, what should the Anaheim Ducks strategy be going into tonight’s game?  They have the home-ice advantage tonight, but it’s going to take a lot more than familiar territory for them to pull off a win tonight.

Battle Plan: Three Keys to the Game

Score, Score, Score: This is easier said than done, especially for the Anaheim Ducks. Goal scoring was one of their biggest weaknesses last season. Nevertheless, we’re going into 2019-20 with a completely different look to the roster. A lot of the same players are back, but they’re being utilized in a completely different way. The team is going into the season a lot healthier than they have been in quite a few seasons.

We’ve seen incredible chemistry between Rickard Rakell, Sam Steel, and Jakob Silfverberg. It should be expected that they are one of the Ducks’ most productive lines this season. Ryan Getzlaf, one of the best playmakers of the team, is projected to be paired with Ondrej Kase who has shown he has the potential to be a threat whenever he has the puck. Ritchie can score goals too, he just has to say out of the box. Being next to Getzlaf should offer him more accountability.

Dallas Eakins is doing a much better job, already, at spreading the talent more evenly throughout the roster. Will this solve their goal scoring issues? That remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the boys really need to focus on creating chances, reading Kuemper, and scoring goals.

Defense Needs to Continue to Step Up: After last season, the Anaheim Ducks blueline seemed hopeless. However, hope has been restored after a decent performance in the preseason. Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, the dynamic duo, are back together (good job Dallas!) Cam Fowler has also been permanently moved to the right side and paired with young Brendan Guhle.

The two have shown the beginning of a great partnership. While we may miss Brandon Montour, Guhle is already proving that he may be a better fit for the Anaheim Ducks. He takes fewer risks that put the team in vulnerable positions. Both Jacob Larsson and Korbinian Holzer have looked solid as well.

The blue line is starting to look refreshed, no longer weighed down by veteran defensemen who are well past their prime and do nothing but hurt the team. Still, the defense needs to be careful because they’ve shown how easy it is to fall back into bad habits, especially when they’re sitting on a lead. These habits need to be broken, and quickly! This is their season to step up, give John Gibson a little break, and prove that one bad season isn’t going to define their career. The defense could be the difference between a good and bad season this year.

Be Energetic: When the Anaheim Ducks are energetic not only are they a team that is much more fun to watch, but they are much more productive too. They are able to keep up with the opposing team around them, and that is something we waited all season to see last year and seldom did. If they keep the energy going tonight, there is no doubt that it will be a game worth watching.

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