Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Across Enemy Lines

The following is an intercepted communique between the Anaheim Ducks' Girl with a Puck and a double agent that turned the information over to us at Purple Crushed Velvet. Found in a folder marked, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, was the following keys to the game:

TO: Boy Scout
FROM: PuckGirl

The defending Stanley Cup Champions got off to a shaky start this season, only periodically showing off their finesse on the ice in flashes. At times, they're sloppy in the neutral zone and careless in their own D-zone (see Corey Perry's ugly turnover to Phoenix's Shane Doan last week; footage enclosed in the attached flash drive). At their worst, the Ducks were spanked to a painful 5-0 finish by the Stars. At best, they took advantage of a five goal offensive attack that left the Coyotes' howling at the desert sunset when they went down 5-2. They also doubled up on the Red Wings in October, winning 6-3.

All that points to one thing: The Ducks still have the firepower to get the job done.

However, the warning label reads: May Have Second Period Brainfart.

POSITIVES: Youngbloods Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are carrying a hefty point total -- a combined 14-17=31 points. If opponents shut them down, expect Chris Kunitz and Andy McDonald to try to pick up the pieces. Early on, McDonald sustained injury to his point total thanks to the loss of his partner Teemu Selanne. Lately, McDonald has been getting back to form and could be a dangerous asset depending on how much space and speed he can generate. On the back end, the Ducks have Chris Pronger and Mathieu Schneider, two defensemen operating under the directive to fire at will. The results have been very favorable, particularly since Schneider's shot finds it's mark with relative consistency. Goaltending seems to be fairly solid, but lately they've been switching out after giving up 3 goals in succession. Might be a problem to keep an eye on.

NEGATIVES: The Ducks are fond of the penalty box. If they start the parade, look for them to fall apart not long after. Their inconsistency indicates that they're not yet ready to be sent out on the field, but there's no more time to waste. They'll need to learn on the fly and adapt to the situations they're thrown into. It's hard to predict how they'll react when down two goals or more. Sometimes they battle back, othertimes, they just lay down and give up. The defense is a mixture of old time veterans with the experience and expertise and guys that are still in training mode. Turnovers are rampant and they seem to have some trouble holding up the blueline. The Power Play is still nothing to be afraid of, though they've finally netted a few. On the flip side, the penalty kill wasn't awful to begin with, but has been somewhat weaker lately.

The top agents to watch include the youngbloods and the big two on the blue. Promising prospects that can be easily missed in the shuffle are all camped out on the checking line where they can sneak a goal or two in. If any trouble should arise, count on Brad May and George Parros to take care of the dirty work.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Mixed. Good on some nights, bad on others. Despite that, it appears that they're up to task for tonight's matchup. The demolition crew will be out in full force, ready to scrap and snarl their way to the front of the net. Crosstown showdowns generally bring out the best in this bunch, so it'll be a spirited affair.

(Editor's Note: Oh, you wanted a Kings preview?? Then head on over to Girl with a Puck. Looks like Finny did some digging of her own!! I knew I couldn't trust her...)

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