Game 53 Preview: It Took Me 4 Tries To Spell Peking Duck

The Anaheim Ducks are two teams.

Notice that I didn't say a "tale of two teams", because that's a horrible cliche and I try not to sink to those depths-no, the Ducks are 2 teams in the sense that they are 3 players away from being a very good team, yet they are 3 players away from being one of the worst teams of the decade.

Of course, you probably know the guys I'm talking about-Ryan Getzlaf, Francois Beauchemin and Corey Perry. To illustrate just how good these guys are, I'll direct you to the BtN page for the Ducks. If you poke around, you'll find that respectively they have the 3rd, 4th and 5th lowest zone starts on the team while playing against top-line opponents (CRQC's of 0.959, 1.425 and 0.970). Despite this and some bad luck (30, 23 and 5 points below the average) they all maintain quality relative Corsi rates. Just unreal.

The Ducks are 9-3-2 since the New Year, which definitely is in line with a correction of sorts. Just as Jonas Hiller was playing above his actual skill level last year with a 940 EVSV% pre-vertigo, he was playing below it with a 903 EVSV% earlier on this year. While I do believe Bruce Boudreau is an excellent coach, I can't honestly say it's because of him that the Ducks have turned it around-the underlying numbers have been pretty consistent the whole year on the top 8, but looking at the numbers those bottom 10 players on the roster sport makes me want to vomit.

For the Flames, I don't think anything's changed since Friday. Although, in case you haven't heard, Lee Stempniak is speculated to be out long-term. Quite the blow for the team, one of many this year. Pay no attention to the Flames' record at the Honda Center lately, because stats like that are idiotic and anyone who puts stock into them is an idiot.

Let us all hope for a game more exciting then the last time these two teams played, where the highlight of the game wasn't even part of the game at all. Although Blair Jones somehow scored in overtime, and that made Justin happy.

Players To Watch

Chris Butler-Seriously. Actually watch him for a game, don't just pick apart single mistakes.

Bobby Ryan-Yeah, I know. Talk about Getzlaf and Perry lovingly and then tell you to watch someone else. To be fair, Mr. Ryan's quite the wizard with the puck.

Lastly...

The Flames should be rested and ready. Shut down the Ducks' top line like they did last game and the Flames can take this one to the bank.

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