Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Anaheim Calling's Keys To The Series For The Ducks

Hello all. This is Arthur-

[interrupting] And Daniel.

[laughing] and Daniel from Anaheim Calling.

James O'Brien, your master of blogomonies here at CLS, graciously invited us to act as your Ducks correspondents for the Wings/Ducks WCSF series. We happily accepted.

We're on here with Joe, who I've chatted with, informally, on the message boards at Battle of California. I think I've gained his respect for knowing my hockey, which should compensate for any respect I may have lost by virtue of being a Ducks fan. And knowing our hockey is really what Daniel and I focus on at our blog. We're not big on being clever or funny from post to post; we just want to talk hockey.

So, let's talk hockey. The NHL's policy of reseeding forces an 8th seed to navigate Scylla AND Charybdis to win the Cup. Though the Ducks got past the Presidents' Trophy winning Sharks, they have drawn the equally deadly Red Wings in the second round. As with Anaheim's first round opponent, there are no statistical upsides for the Ducks. Daniel, if Anaheim is going to make a series out of this, what do you see as the keys to this matchup?

First, I dislike Detroit about as much as, if not more than, I dislike San Jose. This is also a great time to mention that there are something around 6-8 teams in the NHL that I hate, but I will not divulge all of them. Of all those teams, I have the fondest/worst memories of the Red Wings. Despite the chatter that will definitely come out of Detroit, and they deserve it since they are an Original Six and one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports, I will simply point out that in terms of playoff meetings, the all time series is tied 2-2, which makes winning this one very important. Having said all of that, there are 4 keys to this series for the Ducks.

1) Control the Crease: Don't let Holmstrom set up a daycare in front of the net, where he gets to pat every Red Wing on the back on their way to Hiller's face. The Red Wings aren't a great playoff team because they are loaded with talent up-front, it's because that talent isn't afraid of going into the nasty areas and scoring ugly goals. Rebounds need to be cleared and red jerseys need to be covered in crease snow. If Anaheim doesn't control the crease, their chances of winning this series become almost nonexistent.

2) Get to Osgood Early: Despite having his name on the Cup some 3 times, I've never been convinced Osgood was a big time goalie. I'm not saying he can't stand on his head and make a great save or two, I just think he's had a history of getting rattled and showing that if you can get to him and figure him out, scoring becomes less of a problem and the Red Wings become more susceptible to the 5-4, or 6-5 loss. I know they won a 6-5 game against Columbus, but we aren't the Blue Jackets. The Ducks gave up more than 2 goals only once in the first round against one of the best scoring teams in the league. If Osgood and the Wings know that scoring won't be a problem for us, maybe they squeeze the sticks a little harder.

3) Stay out of the Box: I know we say it a lot, but I mean it this time. I'm not as concerned about the Red Wing powerplay as I am about not being able to sustain pressure and punish that aging Detroit blue line. Our game is cycle down low, wear down the D and take the puck hard to the net. If we're in the box too much, we won't be able to control the flow of play, and that's our game. Not to mention that Detroit doesn't have the history of playoff failure that San Jose did. The Red Wings won't be nervous about getting it done. They'll go in for the kill.

4) Win an early one in Detroit: We need to win one of the first 2 in Detroit, and let the Red Wings know how serious we are. Detroit's fans may think we're an upstart crew that doesn't have a chance, but Babcock knows better. If we can get into this series early and don't have to climb a mountain, then we put pressure on the top seeded team. And as every pundit from here to eternity pointed out last round and will point out this round, should the opportunity arise, we are 9-0 when deciding a series on our ice. If we make sure it's a series early and can at least get the chance to close it out on our ice, it'll go a long way to improving our chances of seeing the Conference Finals.

1) Beat the Computer: Babcock loves discipline. The Red Wings are a disciplined team, who play his system faithfully. The only way to beat a computerized team is to take shots from everywhere. Take low-percentage shots that are high-percentage for rebounds. Be puck hounds, and force the defense to keep their heads on a swivel. Detroit is going to play solid positional defense, and try to lock off the high percentage chances. Take what they give you, and make them regret it.

2) Osgood - Beat The Kick Save and Shoot From The Circles: Joe and I talked recently about the '99 trade deadline when Bowman went out to get Bill Ranford. That's the story of Osgood's career. He won a Cup behind Vernon and a Cup on his own, but his coach was convinced that he couldn't get it done. In my opinion, it was Osgood's trademarked kick save that got him in trouble. In New York, he revitalized his career with that save. He sent the puck wherever he wanted it to go, and was always there for the rebound. Old habits die hard though, and if Anaheim can get the inconsistent kick save to rear its ugly head, the Ducks can put the Red Wings on their heels.

Also, the Ducks will want to test Osgood from distance. Really, that's all Carolina did to Brodeur in the Devils/Canes series. Osgood had solid games against Columbus, and he's moving well laterally. However, he misjudged a couple of shots from around the circles, and may be willing to give up a few more that way.

3) No Dumb Penalties: It's really not worth saying. It's not going to happen. I could even point out that the Red Wings were 7 for 22 against Columbus, but that doesn't make the dream any more attainable. But I think the Ducks can still win the series if the majority of their penalties are taken in the defensive zone.

[DET @ ANA 10-29-08]

4) Ryan Getzlaf - The entire video above is really worth watching. First, because Getzlaf scores 5 assists and no goals. But second, because on the Ducks' 4th goal, Getzlaf swats Kronwall off of him and onto the ice. That's what Ryan Getzlaf does. He doesn't cheapshot you or elbow you, but if you're a smaller guy, he'll make you feel his size. Detroit added yet ANOTHER gamechanger in Hossa, but Getzlaf has shown he's capable of changing games himself, even against the mighty Red Wings.


  1. Nice work, guys. No votes for Hiller just stopping everything?

    The "win one in Detroit" is going to be huge, obviously, but personally I think this is a much bigger mountain than it was with SJ. Still, there's Pronger -- for what it's worth, in the 07 WCF, Detroit scored neither a power play nor an even strength goal when Pronger was on the ice. Some close-repeat of that would help things tremendously.

  2. ARTHUR:
    If Hiller isn't Hiller and Pronger isn't Pronger (Wing Killer Extraordinaire), it's going to be rough. But since Detroit held Columbus to 2G in the first three games of their series-- as you'd say by proxy for Selanne, Sleek --we've got to get the ketchup flowing.

  3. Ya know, I would've had my post about Pronger up before you guys could start talking about it, but Qwest sucks and my internet crapped out for about 6 hours, just as I finished it and was getting read to post it up.

    Hiller is the worst of this. The Wings can handle Pronger. They can even handle Pronger + Niedermayer. But with Hiller playing 100% lights-out behind them? That's the hard part. Gonna be a tough tough series.

    As for your keys to the series:

    Shooting long on Ozzie is 100% correct. I don't know what it is, maybe he's crosseyed or something, and can't see more than 20 feet away from him. He has a penchant for ugly goals, and those will kill a team.

    I'll cover this on my own keys post here soon, but controlling the crease will be how this series is won or lost by the Ducks. The 2003 Ducks gave everyone a prototype for how to beat the Wings, and the 2004 Flames, 2006 Oilers, and 2007 Ducks took that prototype and played it perfectly. Control your own slot, and kill anyone who approaches it. Control the Wing's slot, because they'll let you crash it. If you can't do those two things, you won't win.

  4. ARTHUR:
    For me the Ducks really will have to score, which is why Pronger isn't in my four keys.

    The best thing Hiller is doing is getting the rebounds to fall in his cone of vision. He's athletic enough that he can get to anything in front of him. He's even saving redirected shots, if they're tipped from more than 6 feet.

    And so many of the Wings goals last series, both for and against, were about rebound control. I think managing the slot will be just as important as picking up players who are crashing from the half boards or goal line if either team can get some lively rebounds.