Anaheim: Time To Exorcise Their Demons

Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP

Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP

By Michael Walters

The Anaheim Ducks have lost their last three game sevens in the postseason and will face Nashville in a game seven tomorrow. There is an obvious concern with Anaheim’s recent game seven losses and also their closeout game six results.

In the last four postseasons including this season, the Ducks have been involved in eight combined game sixes and sevens, winning only one. They lost games six and seven against Detroit(2013), Los Angeles(2014), and Chicago(2015). Last night they dropped another game six to Nashville. The Ducks have been 1-4 in closeout games sixes and 0-3 in game sevens in the last four postseasons. Anaheim’s sole victory came in game six against Dallas in 2014, when the Ducks won 5-4 in OT after trailing by two goals in the third.

So why do the Ducks have difficulty winning closeout games recently?

Slow Starts

The Ducks have been outscored a combined 12 to 2 in the first periods in the recent game sixes and sevens. The opponents have also scored the first goal in all eight contests. Last night was one of the few instances where Anaheim came out of the first period tied. The only other time the Ducks were tied after one period was game six against the Blackhawks in 2015. The common issue has not only been the Ducks get outscored in the opening period, but they get out played as well. The sense of urgency isn’t there at the beginning of the game and when Anaheim finds it then it’s usually too late.

Inability To Rally 

Anaheim has been known for their comeback ability during the recent regular seasons, but it hasn’t translated as of late in the postseason when they had a chance to finish a series. The Ducks have trailed at the start of the third period in each of the above mentioned games and often by two or more goals in those contests. The only time Anaheim was able to rally was against Dallas in game six in 2014. The Ducks can’t afford to start the third period down because they haven’t been able to comeback outside that one game against the Stars.

How do the Ducks win game seven?

The Ducks need to come out strong at the moment the puck drops. In the recent playoffs, Anaheim has come out tentative and hoping not to lose when they had a chance to win a series. They need to play their game to win like we have seen them do in most of the first five games of a each recent series. The Ducks don’t need to necessarily score first in the opening period, but if they can get a lead after 20 minutes it would greatly help their confidence going into the second period.

In this game Anaheim needs to be more physical. Nashville came out checking every single player in an Anaheim jersey last night. The Ducks need to return the favor. The good news is Clayton Stoner is available to play in game seven. It would behoove Bruce Boudreau to play Stoner because he brings an added element of grit to the blue line. Even if Stoner doesn’t play, the Ducks still need to finish their checks and stand up the Nashville forwards at every opportunity.

Lastly, Anaheim has different personnel this year. Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Garbutt, Shawn Horcoff, Jamie McGinn, David Perron, and Chris Stewart are all newcomers to the Anaheim team this season. They know the past history that the Ducks have experienced, but they weren’t a part of it. All of these players are going to have to step of their games in this contest to help Anaheim exorcise the demons of recent postseason runs. This isn’t the same team from the three last playoff runs. Only Andrew Cogliano, Cam Fowler, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry have been part of the three last postseasons in Anaheim.

The Ducks can win tomorrow and it has to start at the opening face-off.

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