As teams around the NHL Playoffs begin to face elimination some teams will fall, and others will possibly beat the odds and make a come back win in the series to move on. The Anaheim Ducks hope to beat these odds still being down to the Dallas Stars 3-2 in the series. As a hockey analyst and writer, I would normally make some comment about how the Stars have the advantage tonight by being at home, BUT this series and playoffs have shown there is no tangible advantage. Only recently in the series have the home teams begun to win. If anything, it may be more accurate to say the visiting team has a slight advantage.
Possibly the most important indicator for the game outcome is which team scores first. The first to score has been the winner of the last five games. My advice for the Ducks is score early, score often, avoid penalties, and play physical, determined hockey.
Jean-Sebastian Giguere seems to possibly be over his bout of being a vacuum cleaner (hardy har har), and seems poised to lead his team back to the Finals. During last night’s performance, which saw the Stars toss everything including the kitchen sink at Giguere, he stepped up to make 40 saves in the game and earn himself recognition as the reason the Ducks won. Now he must again be prepared to stand on his head to protect the net.
The Ducks defense looked more sound in Game 5; They were more tuned in to what Giguere was doing, which allowed for better puck movement to the Ducks forwards. The Ducks have one of the deepest and most talented corps of defense in the NHL. There is no reason this team should have had as much trouble protecting the net as it had. The defense must keep their passion and physical play from Game 5 and pack it up for the trip back to Dallas for Game 6.
I have chosen to save my favorite for last. The Ducks have not been the scoring threat they were last season. I find this odd considering the additions of Todd Bertuzzi and Doug Weight (at the expense Andy Mcdonald to St. Louis). However, last night they appeared to be the old team again. The defense was getting quick passes to the forwards who were putting every puck they got on net.
Last night was by far one of the largest victory margins in the series, but going into Game 6, this fact will not matter unless the forward corps plays with the same intensity.
Game 6 is Sunday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The game will be aired on FSN- Prime Ticket in Southern California and FSN- Southwest in the Dallas Area and begins at 6pm Pacific and 8pm Central.