Ducks/Wild Opening Thoughts: Injuries Likely!

One reason why this Ducks-Wild matchup is particularly scary is that even though these two teams haven't met since Dec. 31st, arguably the biggest injuries of the year for each team took place in the other team’s arena:

1. In the first game in Anaheim, Marian Gaborik suffered a third-period groin injury that would keep him out of the lineup for the next 34 games. He would miss all the rest of the games in the Anaheim season series. The table below demonstrates how badly Gabby was missed, and how well the team has responded upon his return:

Marian Gaborik (groin)

Games Record Win Pct. GF/gm GA/gm

Before injury

6

6-0-0

1.000

3.2

1.8

Without player

35

15-18-2

0.471

2.6

2.8

Since return

41

27-8-6

0.732

2.8

1.8


2. In the second game in Minnesota (a week later), Todd Fedoruk got destroyed in a fight with Derek Boogaard and would not suit up for the Ducks again (later traded to Philly before being re-destroyed by Colton Orr). I still maintain that this was a huge setback for the Ducks, as none of Fedoruk's replacements have been able to contribute as much between fights as Todd did playing with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

Todd Fedoruk (orbital)

Games Record Win Pct. GF/gm GA/gm

Before injury

10

7-0-3

0.850

3.1

1.9


3. In the fourth game in Minnesota, Chris Pronger broke his foot blocking a shot and would end up missing the next 9 games recovering from that injury. This of course was two games after J.S. Giguere and Francois Beauchemin suffered long-term injuries in a game against the Sharks, making the injury all the more devastating.

Chris Pronger (foot)

Games Record Win Pct. GF/gm GA/gm

Before injury

40

28-6-6

0.775

3.5

2.3

Without player

10

2-6-2

0.300

2.7

3.3

Since return

32

18-8-6

0.656

2.8

2.3


Note that both the Wild without Gaborik and the Ducks without Pronger (and friends) allowed an extra goal-against-per-game and pretty much sucked in the standings (the Wild less so because of OT/SO success). But that's three pretty huge injuries over the four-game series--yikes.

Looking for other potential heroes in this series? Here's some candidates from either side:

  • J.S. Giguere, G, ANA: Aside from Giguere's ridiculous previous playoff series against the Wild in the '03 WC Finals, he's also played Minnesota very well in this season's series (2-0-1, with a 1.62 GAA and a .943 Sv%). The Wild scored zero power play goals in 13 chances against Giguere.
  • Niklas Backstrom, G, MIN: Though Backstrom lost his only time playing the Ducks this season, he has been a huge reason for the Wild's strong finish. Since he took over the #1 goalie position on 2/1, he has gone 18-3-3 with a 1.95 GAA and a .929 Sv%. Also, the last time he allowed more than 2 goals in a game was more than a month ago.
  • Scott Niedermayer, D, ANA: Scotty led all Ducks with 3 goals and 3 assists in the 4-game series; his offensive wandering seems to give the Wild's system some fits. SNieds was first star of the game for both games in Anaheim, and also was second star of the game for the first game in St. Paul.
  • Pierre-Marc Bouchard, C, MIN: This guy may score moderately on the rest of the league, but he's murder against the Ducks. This year, he scored his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, and 8th goal of the season (plus one assist) in four games against Anaheim. Oh, and just as a side note, he did assist on the only goal that the Wild scored against the Ducks in the '03 postseason.
Wild Puck Banter has provided 6 reasons why he likes the Wild's chances--definitely worth a read, but you should note that I am definitely not overlooking one of the hottest second-half teams in the league this series--especially one that's still got the sting of '03 over its head.

To be fair, though, not that many players from the '03 series are left on either side: Anaheim still has J.S. Giguere, Rob Niedermayer, and Sammy Pahlsson, while Minnesota still has Marian Gaborik, P.M. Bouchard, Wes Walz, Nick Schultz, Manny Fernandez, and then-Mighty-Duck Keith Carney.

On a side note, I definitely have a couple of personal conflicts with this series. I will have real trouble posting about Gm 5 as that coincides with my brother's wedding rehearsal, and Gm 6 is the same day as his actual wedding day. Not to get greedy, but another series sweep would really make that weekend a lot less hectic for this best man.

More to come later, but that should suffice for now; definitely this is a series that could go either way, but I got no choice: GO DUCKS!

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