Anaheim Ducks vs. Colorado Avalanche: 5 keys to leave victorious

Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Well guys, this season hasn’t been what we Anaheim Ducks fans have hoped for. After a strong first quarter of the season, the Ducks have lost eight straight games. Six of the eight games have been regulation losses one was a shootout and one an overtime loss.

Their latest defeat was a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues. With the losses piling up, it’s safe to say that frustration looms over the Ducks fanbase. After years of competing for playoff spots and possible berths of Stanley cup titles, the Ducks are beginning to head for some lean years.

Tonight’s game is going to be an interesting clash. The Ducks are back on the road, this time to the Mile-High City, aka Denver. The Colorado Avalanche awaits them. The Avalanche are on a hot streak, winning three of their last four games. They’re tied with the Minnesota Wild for third place in the West division and are only four points behind the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights.

In their last game, Nathan Mackinnon got rocked by Joachim Blichfeld and could possibly be out in tonight’s game. Even that might not slow down the Avalanche from the hot streak they’ve been on lately. That said, on any given night, a team on a losing streak can snap out of the funk. If they follow these keys, the Ducks can finally end what has been a rough patch.

Key #1: Start Fast, Play Smart

The main struggle lately for the Ducks lately has been that they have gotten off to slow starts and have dug themselves into a deep hole. They trail their opponents by a goal or two and when they try to make their comeback, the opposing team plays stout defense against them, preventing the Ducks from making things interesting.

It’s been bad enough for the Ducks, facing teams like St. Louis and Vegas where they fall behind and fight to come back, only to fall short. As good as those teams are, tonight it’s imperative that the Ducks don’t fall behind against THIS team.

If Mackinnon doesn’t play, the Ducks still must deal with Landeskog and Rantanen, two of the players on the famous Rocky Mountain Line. Those 2 players alone should send shivers down opponents’ backs.

They aren’t the only lethal scoring forwards the Avs have at their disposal. Brandon Saad, J.T. Compher, Nazem Kadri, the Avs are a team on a mission. There’s also the star talent of Cale Makar, the guy who came onto the scene in the playoffs only a few years back. If the Ducks are going to survive and win, they can’t fall behind against a team with superior talent and expect to win.

Key #2: Play the Kids, Play the Kids, Play the KIDS!

Okay, while the losing streak has been hard to watch, the one bright spot, believe it or not, is the fact that the kids have been fun to watch. From Mad Max (Maxime Comtois) to TZ (Trevor Zegras), the kids have shown why they were brought up here.

They’ve been a spark for a team whose veterans have struggled to score goals. Tonight, against a team who is younger and faster, if I’m DE, I’m playing the kids a lot. They may get burnt and they may get scored on, but the veterans have been stuck in second gear.

Two guys who have been heating up lately are Maxime Comtois and Isac Lundestrom. Lundy as I call him became the second-youngest Duck to net a hat-trick. Unfortunately, it was in a losing effort. Of all the kids who I’ve seen play, Isac is second in my book behind only Mad Max because of how he’s been playing lately.

While his game isn’t perfect, I do like what I’ve seen from him. Add some lbs. and he won’t be scrawny moving forward. He has the touch that stirs the drink and on a team that needs some serious stirring, I’m wanting to play him tonight.

While Lundy is the finesse, Comtois is the force. Comtois reminds me of a strong power-forward in the NBA. He drives to the net and knows how to pot goals normally. To me, he’s a better version of Nick Ritchie, minus the penalties. It hasn’t taken a lot for me and others to see that this kid has what it takes to play for the Ducks.

Of course, you want some of the vets to be there to back them up, but the kids have the speed that is necessary for today’s game. No longer is the game where it was all about defense. Where high-scoring games were a rare dinosaur. It’s all about offense, and hopefully, the Ducks management is starting to recognize and join the party.

Key #3: The Legs Feed the Wolf

For those who saw the movie Miracle, you remember Herb Brooks says that phrase to the 1980 US Hockey Olympic team. To beat the Avs, the Ducks must strategically find ways to help their legs feed the wolf.

They’re playing against a team that is quicker, faster, and more talented than they are. However, to combat that, the Ducks got to shorten their shifts to compete against a team like Colorado.

This responsibility is for the veterans mainly because they’re older. Guys like Getzlaf, Rakell, and Shattenkirk aren’t younger like Terry, Comtois, Zegras, and Jones. They have the leadership, but with time, their legs get tired easily. To give the Ducks a chance to compete, the veterans along with the coaching staff must find ways to shorten shifts so that fresh legs are always on the ice. They do that and they have a chance.

Key #4: Out of the Box

No, I don’t mean to be overly creative, I’m talking about staying out of the Penalty box. The main reason why the Ducks lost Wednesday night to St. Louis was that they gave up 3 power-plays which led to three power-play goals.

If you think the Blues’ power-play is lethal, the Avalanche are deadly accurate. With so many weapons outside of the Rocky Mountain Line, the Avalanche isn’t a team you want to give up multiple power-plays. Play smart, play efficiently.

A key to staying out of the box can be found in my previous key: shortening the shifts. Tired legs lead to feet not moving which leads to lazy penalties which lead to Gibson getting buried in the Avalanche.

The Ducks have been getting lax in that department, another reason the Ducks have been on this losing streak. They can’t afford to play like that tonight against a team that is starting to emerge as a contender for the Stanley Cup.

Key #5: Put the Mighty back into Mighty Ducks

This last key is more psychological than physical. Lately, for the players and the fans, it’s been a struggle bus for all of us. The bounces haven’t gone our way, but for our opponents, it’s goals galore. Seeing the other team winning crushes the spirit and makes it harder to play.

That’s why tonight, the Ducks need to remember their roots and where they come from. Despite how bleak things are, they must remember that Ducks fly together. It’s the same for us fans too. I know it’s hard to see our team lose, but hopefully, it won’t be like that for long.

No, I’m not predicting the Ducks will turn things around in time to make the playoffs. I know I made that preseason prediction, thinking the Ducks wouldn’t be this bad. That said, I do think the Ducks can salvage the season another way. they can inspire hope that the young ones can lead the team to a prosperous future where the Ducks franchise will be back to contending for playoff berths and hopefully bring the Stanley Cup back to where it truly belongs.

I’m reminded of the scene from D2 when Bombay reminds the team, to be themselves. Don’t play like someone you’re not. Play your roles, do your best and let the cards fall where they may. That is how the Ducks must play tonight.

Don’t try to be like Superman, be who you are, play to your strengths, return to the basics and play sixty minutes of Anaheim Ducks hockey. Win or lose, seeds will be sown for the future and I think the future will emerge sooner than later.

I also think this key is majorly for us fans. I know it’s been rough seeing other teams celebrate winning the Stanley Cup and wishing it would be our team. 2003 and 2007 were years of joy, miracles, and hope. We saw our heroes rise to the occasion and find ways to win. Even in 2015 and 2017, the Ducks had their chances to bring the Cup home only to fall short of their quest. Even yours truly has struggled to find the positives in this season.

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I think that’s what I’ve learned from this year. You must embrace the small wins in a losing season. There are seeds sown in a losing season that will bring out results moving forward. It may not be a winning season this year, and maybe next year as well. However, if we can embrace the small seeds sown, it can make the season one that we will look back and say, if we didn’t have this season of pain, the joys of winning wouldn’t feel the same.