Preview: Ducks’ Legitimacy in Question Against Blues

The Anaheim Ducks might be for real. Thanks to a victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night, they remain in first place in the Pacific Division with a four-point lead on the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks, who made their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final last season, may not be interested in the regular season all that much, saving their weary bodies for a deep playoff run. Still, it’s impressive that Anaheim has more points in the standings than a team that many would still describe as one of the best in the league.

Ducks’ head coach Randy Carlyle, long criticized for being at the helm of analytically-challenged (read: bad) teams, is currently leading a team that looks quite good by most commonly accepted analytics. Not exactly a dominant puck-possession team, the Ducks have managed to control scoring chances quite well while limiting the quality of the opponents’ shots. However, almost all of their recent success has come against teams outside of the playoff picture.

In fact, Anaheim’s only loss in the month of January has come against the only true playoff team they’ve faced, the Minnesota Wild. Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers, who they beat two weeks ago, are now in the playoff picture — they have possession of the last wild card spot in the East with a nearly non-existent one point cushion, so make of that what you will.

The St. Louis Blues are anything but a fringe team. A deep squad with Stanley Cup aspirations, the Blues will give the Ducks a real run for their money. Though they haven’t dominated the standings, St. Louis remains one of the very best defensive clubs in the league, while boasting an impressive crop of forwards up front.

Goaltending remains an issue, but Jake Allen has shown enough potential to trust that he can recover from a lackluster start. It’s still unclear just how good the Ducks are this season, but a matchup against a true contender on Sunday night should make that quite a bit clearer.

St. Louis Blues at Anaheim Ducks

TV Broadcast Channels: PT25, FSMW

Radio Broadcast Channels: AM 830, KMOX

Dallas Stars: 22-16-5, 49 points

Road Record: 6-11-1

Hot Players: Alex Steen, Paul Stastny, Vladimir Tarasenko

Key Injuries: Carl Gunnarsson


Jaden Schwartz – Paul Stastny – Alex Steen

Nail Yakupov – Jori Lehtera – Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabri – Patrik Berglund – David Perron

Dmitrij Jaskin – Kyle Brodziak – Ryan Reaves


Alex Pietrangelo – Colton Parayko

Jay Bouwmeester – Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson – Robert Bortuzzo


Jake Allen


Anaheim Ducks: 24-13-8, 56 points

Home Record: 14-5-2

Hot Players: Ryan Kesler

Key Injuries: Simon Despres (LTIR), Nate Thompson (LTIR), Clayton Stoner (upper body, 4-6 weeks)

Projected Lines:


Andrew Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg

Rickard Rakell-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry

Nick Ritchie-Antoine Vermette-Ondrej Kase

Joseph Cramarossa-Logan Shaw-Stefan Noesen


Cam Fowler-Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson

Shea Theodore-Kevin Bieksa


John Gibson

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] Remember Nail Yakupov? The first overall pick of the 2012 draft has firmly entered “bust” territory, but he’s at least found himself a nice role in a deep Blues lineup.

He skated alongside Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko last night, and though it didn’t pay immediate dividends. his speed could end up being an asset in the Blues’ top-six.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] Goaltending continues to be an issue for St. Louis. Allen had shown enough promise to give management the confidence to move on from Brian Elliott, who was outstanding in his Blues’ tenure.

After having posted a solid .920 save percentage in 2015-16, the 26-year old is sitting on an ugly .900 mark. Outside of a sparkling performance against the Blackhawks in the Winter Classic, Allen has failed to even hit .900 in his last five outings. Needless to say, St. Louis needs him to turn things around if they hope to be playing hockey in late May.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Goaltending has been the last of Anaheim’s concerns as of late. After a rocky start to the season, goaltender John Gibson seems to be finally hitting his stride.

In the month of January, the 23-year old has posted a .961 save percentage, spurred on by a 51-save performance against Philadelphia earlier in the month. Though Carlyle maintains that the Ducks have a “1A/1B” goaltending tandem, it’s plainly obvious that Gibson has firmly taken the mantle as Anaheim’s starter.

Though it’s nice for the Ducks that Gibson can run this hot, it remains to be seen whether he can provide a solid baseline of performance on a consistent basis.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] Corey Perry will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest players in Ducks’ franchise history. His current campaign, however, has been historic in the worst kind of way.

Through 44 games, he’s posted a career-worst 6.6 shooting percentage, a cavernous drop from his career average of 13.3. Now 31-years of age, he’s on pace for his lowest-scoring season since he was just barely old enough to legally purchase alcohol in the United States. Those surface-level numbers certainly don’t look good, but don’t be fooled; Perry is still getting to his favorite spots on the ice. He’s leading the team in shots on goal, so expect the soft-spoken veteran to start pouring the goals in at some point in the near future.

With a couple of exceptions, Anaheim will go back to a steady diet of mediocre teams after Sunday’s tilt. A win against a contender in the Blues would not only validate their recent success but also add some credibility to the quietly excellent numbers they’ve posted so far. Forgive the cliche, but it’ll be time to dust off the measuring sticks.