|Nashville Predators||Anaheim Ducks|
|5-on-5 Save %||.928||6th||.922||11th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.35||26th||3.24||28th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.40||3rd||3.82||16th|
Judging by the fundamentals, Anaheim sure looks like a team that's primed to fall back into the pack. Their control of the flow of play is only marginally ahead of Nashville's, and their goaltending is not quite as strong. Their 11.4 shooting percentage in 5-on-5 play, however, has kept them scoring in bunches (for perspective, the best such number over the last two seasons was 9.9% by Tampa Bay in 2011-2012). Going forward we should expect that scoring to drop off by 20% or more, taking a large slice out of their production.
In their two previous meetings this season, the Ducks took shootout decisions after playing to 2-2 ties during regulation & overtime play.
These are heady days in Anaheim, after a rotten campaign last year that had folks wondering whether a total rebuild might be required. Here's Jen from Anaheim Calling on the reversal of fortune:
The 2013 Ducks are now the polar opposite of themselves from the previous season. In 2011-2012, around November-December, the disaster that was the Anaheim Ducks saw the ousting of the team's long time coach, the hiring of a players coach and the circus of trade rumors involving everyone on the team (except forCorey Perry). After 16 games, this group of Ducks were 6-7-3 and the most popular girl at the party.
The East Coast and Canadian media couldn't get enough of the surprising debacle in Anaheim. I have no idea why they were so surprised, it's not like they didn't predict this exact scenario. The fire sale didn't happen and the Ducks started to improve greatly, going on a crazy tear, losing only three times in the month of January. As the team got better, the spotlight began to fade. The team crapped out to close the season but the attention wasn't so great.
Flash back to the present. After 16 games, the 2013 Ducks are 13-2-1. They currently sit at the top of the Pacific Division with a Scott Niedermayer-worth of points (27 - get it?!). San Jose sits eight points behind at 19. Chicago decided to be scary good this year leading the West overall with 33 points; the Ducks are second.
Where's the attention now? Exactly where is should be, somewhere else.
Perhaps the most surprising thing to me about the DUcks so far? Check out this stat line:
#15 / Center / Anaheim Ducks
May 10, 1985
|2012 - Ryan Getzlaf||17||6||12||18||+7||8||2||0||1||40||15.0|
Sure, he's Anaheim's leading scorer, but just 8 penalty minutes for the habitually undisciplined captain? Maybe it's all the winning which has improved his mood.
The other big story there is the goaltending, led by Swedish rookie Viktor Fasth, the Swedish rookie who won his first eight starts before finally taking a loss Monday night against Los Angeles. Can the Predators get him rolling on a losing streak now?
Which Predators team will we see tonight? The one which ranks 29th in the league in goal scoring, or the one which came back from a two-goal deficit to beat Dallas Monday night?
If Nashville does hope to keep the offense rolling, it will take a whole-team effort, as there isn't one guy who can shoulder that load. We can try pointing fingers at one guy or another, but it's guesswork at this point. All we know is that relying on defense & goaltending to get the job done night-in, night-out will only take this team so far.
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
|2012 - Pekka Rinne||18||1075||8||5||4||34||1.90||460||426||.926||3|
So play nice with those potty-mouthed Californians (seriously, the great thing about SB Nation is the diversity of its communities) and brace yourselves for a late night tonight. The puck drops shortly after 9:00 p.m. Central, on SportSouth (not FS-TN).