Ducks Battle Back but Fall Short in Buffalo

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The Anaheim Ducks matinee affair with the Buffalo Sabres this afternoon (in NY, an early game here in Southern California) was a fun game of dominant periods. Buffalo controlled the first, the Ducks got the better of the second, and the Sabres controlled the third. The game alternated 20 minute dominance, but Buffalo had the puck last. After two periods of back-and-forth action, the teams looked very evenly matched offensively. It was a wide-open skater’s delight featuring up-and-down action throughout. With the Ducks first line and Buffalo’s first line canceling each other out, it was up to the second and third lines to make the scoring happen. And score they did. The Sabres, though, are a much deeper team, which really showed in the third. Three players on the ice had 2 goal games, Trevor Zegras for the Ducks, Victor Olofsson, and Peyton Krebs for Buffalo. 

After ending the first with Anaheim down two by goals, a motivated Trevor Zegras put the team on his back, carried the Ducks to even at two, and then added an assist to lift the scoring to 3-3 after two. Zegras continues to show the skills and timely scoring touch that make him a special player to watch, and that, I believe, will make him a superstar in the league for years to come. 

This was the second game in a row that Anaheim bounced back from being down multiple goals to bring a game even. With the Ducks feeling good and looking loose after the comeback and Zegras singing a little Taylor Swift on the bench, this made a great final frame. Then the third happened, where Buffalo had enough of the plucky Ducks team.

That’s when the Anaheim defense went as dark as my television (The feed from Bally’s Sports was awful this morning, the signal sputtered and often froze, matching the overall defensive play in the game). The Ducks struggles overshadowed the Sabres, though. In the third period alone, the Ducks suffered; mental mistakes, a bad line change, the puck mysteriously jumping Max Comtois’ stick at the blue line leading to a 2/3rd of the ice breakaway for Olofsson, turnovers and odd-man rushes. SO MANY odd man rushes. Both teams had issues on D. Fortunately, the goaltenders were both good today. John Gibson and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen were sharp throughout. The Anaheim defense simply couldn’t rebound from the onslaught of miscues and the very deep talent of the Sabres lineup. For a depth example, Buffalo’s third line left winger, the aforementioned Olofsson, now has 21 goals. The team roster boasts five players over 15 goals. Rasmus Dahlin, a defenseman, has 13 goals and now 52 points in 44 games. I could gush on and on over the offensive stats of the Sabres, but the obvious point is that the Ducks have nowhere near that kind of well-rounded firepower. Buffalo’s bottom lines put that advantage to work, potting three goals in the third off of Anaheim’s mistakes. Buffalo puts away Anaheim by a score of 6-3. 

I have a few takeaways and thoughts from the game. The Ducks did a fine job of holding 6 foot 6, 60 point sensation Tage Thompson to a single assist and a minus two this morning, but that wasn’t enough. Nate Beaulieu was inserted into the lineup as a physical force against the Buffalo Sabres’ beefy lineup, but it’s time for this experiment to end. Beaulieu is just bad. He had awful turnovers, the puck reacts like a brick on his stick, and his consistent passes behind or into players’ skates are infuriating. Colton White is a much better defensive player, but he is locked away in Dallas Eakins’ doghouse for some reason. Speaking of Eakins, he double-shifted Zegras heavily at the end of the second and early third, with Z getting caught out on long shifts. Coach Eakins was riding the hot hand. However, that appeared to slow him way down in the third. It never ceases to amaze me how Dallas needs to screw around with things and lines that were working. Trevor Zegras has a five game point streak, 13 points in the past eleven games (7G-6A), and five goals over the past five games. Mason McTavish looked a step slow in his return from one game off for a lower-body injury. It appears that he may still be dealing with some pain. Anaheim doesn’t play again until Tuesday, hopefully giving McTavish more rehab time to recover.

Tuesday night’s game will be versus the Arizona Coyotes at 6 pm. I’m looking forward to watching this game, as it will be in the cozy confines of the minuscule Mullett Arena in Tempe. The Mullett is a college hockey barn used by ASU and only has 5000 seats available. 

Episode 89: The Mighty Debrief Late Arrivals: An Anaheim Ducks Podcast

On this episode of LAP, the guys talk about the wonderful, one might even say MIGHTY, news coming out of Anaheim Thursday morning and share their thoughts on the long awaited rebrand coming to OC. The guys try to predict what the new uniforms may entail and share their excitement for things being how they should once more. Lastly, the guys give their Cup Final predictions and answer listener questions!Follow Late Arrivals Twitter: @latearrivalspodInstagram: @latearrivalspodFollow the hostsChris: @CJKChelConnor: @91_PlutyJake: @_JRobles71Louis: @Louiex37 Intro/ Outro done by Will Rice/ @pastorwillrice
  1. Episode 89: The Mighty Debrief
  2. Episode 88: Minute Muncher
  3. Episode 87: Coach Chaos
  4. Episode 86: It's All Your Fault
  5. Episode 85: One Last Howl

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