As we've done before every game in this mini-series with the Ducks we check in with our friends over at SB Nation's Ducks site. For game three the site's editor, Jen Neale, answered our questions.
I am going to say the Ducks on this one. Jobing com Arena is a black hole of misery for Anaheim. Back in the comfy confines of Honda Center, the Ducks are 8-1-0 on the year. Our guys are sensitive. They don't like to be booed by the home crowd, so they generally pick up their game to appease us.
And for the love of all things holy, I hope it doesn't go into a shootout. If this game is exactly like the last two, I am going to lay in the fetal position and cry.
Who would you start in goal on Wednesday night in Anaheim if you were Bruce Boudreau?
Fasth is coming off of only his second loss ever. His first loss (a 5-2 pounding by LA) was followed up by a win in his next start (5-1 against Nashville). Also, since the last two games ended in shoot-outs, it's another reason Bruce would start Fasth over Hiller. Viktor has faced five shoot outs this season and has only lost one, thanks to the Coyotes. Generally, he is considerably better in that area than Hiller.
With just over half of the shortened regular season left, do you expect the Ducks to hang on and win the Pacific Division title? If not, who do expect to win the division?
This whole season has been a surprise to me. I knew the team would be better than they were last season because it's not hard to be better than that shit show. Plus, they did show moments of brilliance in January and February of 2012 before crapping out the end. But I had no idea they'd be this strong - save the last two games.
The Ducks can win the division if they: continue to get contributions from everyone in the lineup, not just the big guns, continue to improve on special teams and beat Pacific Division opponents.
So far, the team has 11 players with four goals or more. Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Cogliano lead the team with eight goals a piece. Getzy, a little surprising since he's always had the pass-first mentality. Cogs, on the other hand, is shocking. Last year he couldn't hit a wide open net, even if it was the size of a tractor trailer. And I have zero idea why he seems to play so well against Phoenix.
As I write this, the power play is first place overall in the NHL. Fantastic! The only problem is, the Ducks tend to take more penalties than their opponents. The penalty kill is horrendous, 28th in the league at 75.7%. It's sad to say this is better than the beginning of the season and they must improve more.
The Pacific Division is one of the strongest in the NHL, which is why Bruce preaches the team must create as much separation between themselves and the rest of the Pacific. Guys get worn down in a compacted season, if a rough stretch happens later, he wants significant breathing room to ease the minds of the players while they make corrections.
It sickens me to say this. If the Ducks don't get the division title, the Kings will.