Ducks @ Sharks
Just like they drew it up, right? I mean, who didn’t see the ducks getting outshot by 18 yet still winning 5-2? Let’s go through who looked good and who is still playing like this is the pre-season.
FIRST NHL GOAL, BABY!!! I had picked Comtois for my first goal prediction before the game so I was obviously pretty pumped up to see him put that one 5-hole on Jones. Aside from his goal, Comtois looked good in his NHL debut. He was good in the D-zone, was quick in transition up ice and created offence. He would have had a two-point night if Silfverberg could have finished that glorious chance Max set him up with. I know it’s only game 1 and I shouldn’t get too excited but hell, I’m pumped for this kid!
It was a 2-point night for Uncle Rico who continued his strong play from the pre-season into game 1. As discussed above he got the puck to Comtois for the opening goal of the game off of a really nice poke check in the neutral zone early in the 1st. He continued his strong play all game which ended with him scoring off a beautiful passing play on the power play late in the 3rd. I don’t think it was ever being debated but if Henrique keeps this play up then we won that Vatanen trade easily!
Ho. Ly. Crap. Gibson was INSANE last night. But isn’t that what we expect from our Vezina caliber goaltender? I heard someone on NHL radio the other day say he was “over rated” and I laughed. I hope that dude watched last nights’ game. Gibson is the reason we won this game. He kept us in the game when no one else on the Ducks seemed to be playing. He stopped grade-A chances from basically all of the Sharks talented forwards and even got that crucial stop on the breakaway by Kane in the 3rd. Hopefully this whole getting badly outshot thing isn’t a trend like last year and Gibson can have a few easier games coming up, but it is nice to know that when the Ducks don’t play their best we have a goalie that is ready to step up and steal us a win.
The Power Play:
Are the years of having a crap power play finally behind us?!?! The Ducks went 2-3 on the PP last night and scored one of the prettiest power play goals I have ever seen from this team. The passing was fast and crisp and we buried the chances we got. Hopefully this is the power play of the future and going on the man advantage will actually be an advantage this season.
The 4th Line:
Sherwood, Street and Rowney would not have been my guess at the 4th line when the Ducks started camp last month but damn they were impressive last night. When the Ducks were getting badly out played for the first half of the game it was the 4th line that would come out and get us some much needed offensive zone time. They were relentless on the fore-check and created a bunch of turnovers. They even got rewarded with Rowney putting in the empty net goal to ice the game away. Obviously when injured played start making their way back this line will get broken up but I really like what I saw from them last night.
Needs some work:
Josh Manson/Cam Fowler:
This new D pairing either needs some time to build chemistry or needs to be taken out back and put to pasture as the kids say. Our two best defensemen looked far from it last night as they were embarrassingly beaten on several plays which led to goals or grade A scoring chances for the sharks. Both Sharks’ goals came from highlight reel dangles from Kane (around Manson) and Hertl (around Fowler) AND they were the D pairing on the ice when Kane got that breakaway. These two owe Gibson a beer because he bailed them out all night. I do not expect this bad play to continue for either player as they are just too good, but oooff, that was rough.
The Top Line:
I’ve said it all pre-season. The Terry, Rakell, Getzlaf line just doesn’t have the chemistry they need to be an effective top line in the NHL. They were responsible for several turn overs and just over all sloppy play that really hindered the Ducks early in the game. Terry is still learning the NHL game so I’ll cut him some slack but Getzlaf and Rakell need to be better 5 on 5. Watching Getzy lose the puck or carelessly turn it over is a very uncharacteristic thing for him to do and I expect him to get better as he adjusts to this new style of play. Just hope it is sooner rather than later.
Quick notes on the Sharks:
- Wow was Jones bad. That Montour goal? Are you kidding? He will be better than what we saw last night but I’m pumped we were able to capitalize on his off night
- Hertl is a WAY better player than I thought he was. He was scary every single time he touched the puck.
- Kane was the same excellent player we faced last year in the playoffs.
- The big, bad D-core wasn’t all that scary. Sure, Karlsson and Burns carrying the puck through the neutral zone created some chances for the Sharks but overall, they were not really a factor in that game.
- All of Thornton’s power was clearly in his beard. He looks weird without it, doesn’t he?
I know this win doesn’t make up for getting swept by San Jose last year but damn this win felt really good. Can’t wait for more and to see what this season has in store