Thursday, April 12, 2007

Series Focus: Ducks vs. Wild

There are a number of factors that have led me to take a greater interest in the Anaheim/Minnesota series than I originally expected to.

  • For Edmonton to receive Anaheim's 1st round pick next year, the Ducks have to go "very far" in the playoffs which most believe indicates a berth in the Conference Finals or further.
  • Many hockey fans are looking at Minnesota as a team with all the tools to pull off an upset. They've got hot goaltending, a couple of game-breaking players in Demitra and Gaborik, good special teams, and a smart coach.
  • Speaking of coaching, it occurs to me that the game plans in the best interest of each team lay roughly opposite to each other and thus home ice may be more crucial in this series than any other. To elaborate:
If I am coaching for a Ducks win, I would run Sami Pahlsson's excellent checking line against Gaborik and Demitra as often as possible and I would ensure that at least one of Pronger or Niedermayer was always on the ice. I don't know if the Ducks plan on using #25 and #44 together very often but one way or another you'd have to think even Gaborik/Demitra are in tough trying to score against a good checking line and at least one showstopping D.

If I am coaching for the Wild to win, I would perhaps admit that getting away from Pronger and/or Niedermayer is damn near impossible and focus instead of forward match-ups. A power vs. power match-up that ran Demitra and Gaborik against Selanne/McDonald might just allow for the Wild's system play and defensively capable forward depth to outplay the Ducks' high-event kids. A different approach, which would only really be employable with last change, would be to run Walz and co. (whoever the Wild's best checkers are) at the Selanne line while looking as hard as possible to send Demitra/Gaborik over the boards against Getzlaf/Perry.

You can add your own scenarios if you like but if there's one thing I'm certain of it's that the home team has some serious advantages. With that in mind, lets see what the Ducks did in their game one win. (Click to enlarge)

The strategy is so obvious I almost wonder if the Wild weren't even trying to avoid the match-up. Demitra/Gaborik hardly see a second of ice-time without facing either Pahlsson/Moen/Niedermayer-the-lesser or one of Pronger/Niedermayer-the-greater. Is this what limited Minnesota to one goal?

I would expect more of the same matching to go on in game 2 but I am curious to see what happens when Minnesota hits home ice. Hopefully I'll have the time to put up similar shift charts as the series goes on.


Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Hopefully I'll have the time to put up similar shift charts as the series goes on.

I hope you do, this is pretty good stuff. I was pretty hammered at the game, but really, I didn't notice Gaborik and Demitra that much.

BTW, if you are talking about the conditional 1st round pick, I think the qualifier is that the Ducks have to make the SCF.

4/12/2007 12:07 pm  
Blogger Alan said...

"Getzlaf, Penner and Perry scored 25, 29 and 17 goals this year. And that was playing just 12-14 minutes a night! Can you imagine if this coach decides to give those 3 some real ice time? Anaheim would be unstoppable!
-Glenn Healy last night

I smiled and immediately wondered how many IOF contributers were shaking their heads and/or throwing things at the TV.

4/12/2007 12:49 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

I disagree with the rationale behind cheering for the Ducks.

Personally, the marginal value of two 29-30 picks vs. one 25th pick just isn't worth it for me.

Incidentally, can I state once again how idiotic that conditional pick is? It's just insult after injury as far as I'm concerned.

4/12/2007 1:45 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Just a terrific post, I don't have too much to add.

You've captured what the coaches are going to gun for really sensibly IMO. I'd think the way the benches are run in the upcoming games will show that.

If you get a chance, Showerhead, look at the way that MacTavish ran against the Selanne conundrum in the last home game against the Oilers, mid January I think. That's some really inspired shit, is that. I mean just when I'm personally sick and tired of MacTavish's crew ... who the hell comes up of this stuff? Game planning is a strength, no doubt.

I wonder if Lemaire noticed? With all the video now, this is a copycat league in a lot of ways. Once Jacque's on home ice we'll see I guess.

4/12/2007 9:01 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/12/2007 9:19 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

RQ, what's to disagree with?

Say what you will about the clause being included in the first place, but other than malice/revenge/spite/emotion, what "reason" is there to not hope for ANA to trigger that clause?

At best ANA's pick this year will be 24th, and is far more likely to be 25-26 IF they don't make the final 4, 27-30 if they do.

We still aren't really sure what the trigger is(I've seen it reported both as a SC final appearance, and as a WC final appearance), but I'm sure we'll read something about it if ANA makes it to the third round.

And yes, the 2008 pick may be 29-30 should EDM acquire it, but it's also possible that injuries could arise and ANA could fall from winning the PAC division, at least, given the divisional competition.

4/12/2007 9:19 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

To add:

I can certainly understand why you'd hope, during the season, that ANA would flame out and miss the playoffs - that makes sense to me and is what I was hoping for.

Now that they are in the playoffs anyways, what's the harm in picking up the draft pick? EDM can still pick up the draft pick without ANA winning the Cup (at leasat, if the two options we've heard regarding the conditions are exhaustive), so in theory you can have the best of both worlds.

4/12/2007 9:28 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


As you're into this sort of thing, go here and enter 30141, that's the NHL game number of the OTT/PIT tilt.

I like Murray, seeing this esp. Just pure power v power there. Even with all the powerplays and the fact that the score got out of hand near the end. Alfredsson is a beast. And Therrien back loading up Eaton and Gonchar to play with Crosby vs the big Sen's guns. Just terrific hockey.

Looks like Dennis is right with the Phillips/Volchenkov thing. Frankly I'm still a bit surprised by that though.

Great series in any case. Malkin just isn't good enough right now, nor Staal. But they should be able to make a series of it I think (hope).

4/12/2007 9:58 pm  
Blogger Julian said...

wow, that timeonice site is great. I hate trying to squint at the shift chart graphic. Thanks Vic, espcially if you're the one who set it up.

4/13/2007 2:20 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

Thanks for the suggested reading, Vic - apparently it's already getting rave reviews. I will try to get on it as soon as possible - you're right, I do love this stuff. That said, seeing as I'm 22, it's almost midnight, and I haven't even made it out the door yet it's obviously not going to happen until at least tomorrow afternoon ;)

4/14/2007 10:45 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Vic, after all these years you're still doubting me;)

I watched the first two games of the Wild series and it was pissing me off that Lemaire wasn't trying to do more with his matchups. It was Pahlsson/Gaborik and he didn't care about trying to change things up, wouldn't even try to mess up the rotation a little by throwing the boys out every 3rd shift or anything like that. And what was also surprising is that the young guys of ana weren't getting owned by the Rolston/Bouchard combo. That's not like facing Mess/Andy or anything but they were holding their own and this, plus the PP, is where the Wild had a chance to make hay. And of course that left Selanne to go against the 3rd line and then we had what I like to call the Gentlemen's Agreement for the 4th lines, ie coaches agree to play them against each other and hopefully no one gets hurt;)

4/18/2007 4:45 pm  

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