Game Preview: Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks 3/21/22
Amidst the chaos, the Preds still have a game tonight.
While there are good arguments to be made that the NHL shouldn’t schedule games on the trade deadline, and not very many good arguments to the contrary (I can’t think of any, actually), the Nashville Predators are nevertheless scheduled to play the Anaheim Ducks tonight in California.
The Ducks haven’t had the best of seasons, and sold today (and leading up to today). Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Nicolas Deslauriers while stockpiling picks: they gained a first-round pick this season, two second-round picks next year, one 2023 third-rounder, and a 2024 second-round pick. Anaheim is in pure rebuild mode under their new general manager, and only time will tell if it works.
Heading into tonight the Ducks have lost six straight, with their most recent game a shutout by the Florida Panthers.
In spite of their struggles, the Ducks are once again being buoyed by their goaltending. John Gibson is not having his best year—perhaps the result of so many consecutive seasons of being required to save his team’s bacon as well as some pucks—but he’s still been very good against in-close chances, and his .906 sv% overall is still above-average given the shots he’s been facing. Backup Anthony Stolarz has been excellent, though even that excellence has only manifested as a .919 sv%.
The Ducks’ 5v5 defense isn’t as bad as it has been in some years, but their penalty kill is atrocious, and their power play isn’t really any better. In spite of both of these things, their power play and penalty kill are both performing at above-average rates. At even strength, their offense is lackluster. They’ve had great luck converting on their shots taken right around the net—on tips and deflections, which is part of what’s helped the power play out—and poor luck elsewhere.
Troy Terry remains the Ducks’s standout hope offensively, with 29 goals and 52 points. He and Trevor Zegras (a team-leading 28 assists, tied with Ryan Getzlaf who is on IR, and second-best 44 points) are among the Ducks’ few players with a positive expected goals share at 5v5. Adam Henrique has been a relentless driver of offense, while Sonny Milano has been exceptional at both helping the Ducks generate chances and limiting their opponents’ opportunities.
How to Watch
The game will air at 9 PM Central on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.
Statistics from naturalstattrick.com. Additional background from hockeyviz.com.