Of course this is a tribute post to Battle of Alberta, where Sacamano, Grabia, and sometimes Cosh make an overblown hoo-ha of all things Edmonton, especially early-regular-season power plays. I’ll try not to get too irritating, lest they dislocate their shoulders in an effort to punch me.
- This is the first game between the teams since last May, when the Oil eliminated the Mighty from the Ducks in Anaheim while I drank my wallet’s weight in beer. Looking back on my early posts back then, I am inspired by this resulting post title: "I didn’t say Ducks in seven; I said Ducks in ’07!!!" Comic tragedy.
I only bring it up since either the Detroit Tigers or the St. Louis Cardinals will be losing soon, and after that series ends this one-liner won’t be good for another 100 years. Use it now while you still can!
- Of course a lot of the focus tonight will be on Chris Pronger, Edmonton’s version of Paul Kariya, and rightly so. Pronger has not played against the Edmonton Oilers since March 30, 2004, posting an assist on the game’s only goal. However, bear in mind that this will be the first time Petr Sykora plays against the Anaheim Ducks since March 8, 2002, and the first time ever for Joffrey Lupul.
- The Oilers’ "defense" will probably be putting a lot of pressure on Teemu Selanne tonight also, but the Finnish Flash has been sputtering anyway. He’s got one goal this year (493 career goals), and has been limited to one assist over the past five games. Against the Red Wings, he put a beauty backhand past Hasek only to find out that the net was ever-so-slightly off its moorings. Against the Kings, for the first time in over a year, he was held shotless (though he did score in the shootout).
- In fact, no Duck is really on any point streak, and even though the team boasts a powerful 24.4% PP percentage, it hasn’t scored a PPG in the last two games (0 for 5). Defense, though, has been pretty spectacular, thanks to player-of-the-week J.S. Giguere.
- If you don't regularly watch the Ducks, pay attention to the Sammy Pahlsson line, with Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen. I would have given this line all three stars in the victory over Minnesota, as the Slovaks spent all their ice time in their own zone trying to retrieve the puck. I think Marian Gaborik might have pulled his groin trying to play defense.
- Edmonton thus far is 1-2 on the road, losing in Calgary and Vancouver, winning in Denver, all without surrendering a PP goal. Last year the Oilers led the league by going to OT in 32% of its regular season games, but this year’s Oilers have yet to play an OT game.
Maybe it’s Pronger. Ducks have been to OT in 3 of their first 8 games (38%).
- Did you know? In the five games of the WCF, Anaheim outshot Edmonton a combined 183-121. And that was with Pronger on the other side. We’ll see how today's squads compare, though. One thing I know about Sykora and Lupul, they shoot a lot. Both goalies (I’d assume Giguere and Pop-o-Mask Roloson) should expect a fair amount of rubber.
- The Ducks and Oilers are somewhat cruising, both having won 6 of their first 8 games. A loss tonight won’t set anybody back too much, so it’s pretty much a pride game, and that should be pretty fun.
- Prediction: 7-3 Anaheim. Selanne gets all seven to join the 500-goal-club, and everyone wins free ketchup. Pronger allegedly impregnates beat reporter Alice Hemsky.