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Will the Flames Roast the Ducks?

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Game Preview #57

Opposition: Anaheim Calling

The Ducks have been on a tear of their own lately, and after an impressive win over the first place Canucks the other night, this game will put the Flames to the test. The Flames need a complete effort for three full periods to take the win.

The Ducks are 7-3-0 over their last 10 games vs. the Flames' 8-1-1. Flames fans can take a little solace in the Ducks' level of competition over those ten games with wins over the falling Avalanche, the Jackets, the Sens & the Oilers, but that solid win against the Canucks and close loss to the Sharks shows that this is a team that can win any game right now.

The Ducks' roster has experienced a shuffle lately with a trade and with Getzlaf returning from injury. Francois Beauchemin will likely suit up for his first game in his second go-around as a Duck. The Ducks' defence has been upgraded with him but he may not gel with his partner instantly. Ryan Getzlaf has also just returned from a nasty sinus fracture, but he doesn’t seem rusty from what I saw of him against the Canucks. The other player to note is Bobby Ryan, who has four goals in his last five games.

Jonas Hiller is not likely to start although Carlyle did not rule him out. If Curtis McElhinney starts, well, the Flames know him very well from his time in Calgary as back-up. The flip side is that McElhinney will be extra motivated to prove himself to the team that let him go. He has also shown strong numbers in his last three games with a shut out and a impressive 0.951 SV%.

This will be a great game and again, another real test for the Flames.

The Stat Rack

Flames

Rank

Rank

Ducks

16.9%

21st

PP%

3rd

23.8%

82.6%

15th

PK%

19th

81%

2.82

17th

GA

13th

2.74

2.77

14th

GF

19th

2.66

48.4%

24th

FO%

26th

47.4%

27.9

3rd

SA/G

30th

34.2

30.6

15th

SF/G

27th

28.1

Number Crunch

The Flames lead the Ducks in all categories except goals against and PP. The Ducks allow the most shots in the league so it shouldn’t be a surprise that elite goalie Hiller is taking the equivalent of stress leave because he has been starting a Kipper-like level of games. By the numbers, the Flames should take this one especially given how hot their PK has been lately.

Who is Alive in the Last Five

Flames

Robyn Regehr – 1G 4A +2 in the last 5GP

Brendan Morrison – 1G 5A +3 in the last 5GP

Olli Jokinen – 1G 4A (even) in the last 5GP

Ducks

Bobby Ryan - 4G 2A +3 in the last 5GP

Teemu Selanne 1G 6A +2 in the last 5GP

Saku Koivu – 0G 5A (even) in the last 5GP

Anticipated Roster (subject to change by game time)

The Flames

The Ducks

Bourque

Morrison

Iginla

Ryan

Getzlaf

Perry

Glencross

Jokinen

Moss

Blake

Koivu

Selanne

Kostopoulos

Stajan

Jackman

McMillan

Lapierre

Sexton

Hagman

Backlund

Bouma

Chipchura

Marchant

Parros

Regehr

Bouwmeester

Visnovsky

Lydman

Giordano

Sarich

Fowler

Lilja

Staios

Babchuk

Sbisa

Sutton

Kiprusoff

Karlsson

Hiller

McElhinney

Anticipated Game Style

The Ducks defense tries to keep the puck to the outside and allows mostly perimeter shots. The strategy is to make sure the 'tender can see the shot. They allow the most shots in the league.

They also have, in my view, one of the best first lines in the NHL – elite players at each position. There are lines with two elite players and one average one, but the Ducks have all three positions filled with a high end player. Ryan, Getzlaf and Perry all pose an equal threat and they work well together. The offensive threat is deep and the second line is nothing to snort at either with Selanne (how long a playing life does this guy have?), Koivu and Blake.

They are soft on defense and this is their weak point. With the exit of Scott Niedermayer this season their defence was significantly weakened but for the most part, the stellar play of Hiller has kept them at a respectable number of goals against. They have tried to address their issues on the blueline recently by acquiring Beauchemin. We'll see how it turns out.

One on One

Bobby Ryan vs Jay Bouwmeester

Ryan is red hot lately and how JBo offsets him will be a key battle to watch. JBo is not scoring and he is paid to, but that is another issue. Defensively he is doing very well. He plays the opposite style of Regehr with his speed and positioning instead of the crushing check. His albatross-like reach also helps break up plays.

JBo's ability or inability to break up plays by the Ducks' lethal first line will be a key to this game.

The Magic 8-Ball

This is another one too close to call. The Ducks are coming off a big win against Vancouver. They have Getzlaf back in the line-up. Ryan is ripping it up. They have just upgraded their defence with Beauchemin and word is Hiller is set to return soon.

The Flames have been playing stellar hockey as of late, but are not likely to have Tanguay in the line-up. In this game in particular, his ability to feed pinpoint passes through the offensive zone will be missed. I am done underestimating the Flames at this point. The game is key, will they rise to the challenge again?

Magic 8-ball what say you ?

"Even a duck can waddle over fire if they move fast enough."