The Anaheim Ducks will search for a better performance in the desert after their first effort didn’t go too well in Las Vegas. The Ducks had the Vegas Flu on New Year’s Eve, as they were dropped by a score of 5-2. They got on the board early, but things quickly evaporated for them, as the Golden Knights went into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. One of the goals was an own goal by the Ducks.
With John Gibson losing track of the puck behind him while he was sprawled out on the ground, the puck crossed the line by a Ducks’ defender trying to clear it out of the crease. That was a gimme for the Golden Knights, but they were by far the better team on Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas. The Ducks didn’t deserve a point and had to accept a 5-2 loss against the more aggressive team.
Anaheim remain in the desert, but they’ll be further south for a matchup against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. The Ducks enter with a record of 16-19-5 to put them in a tie with San Jose Sharks for last in the Pacific Division. It’s been a lost season for the Ducks, but unlike the Sharks, there weren’t much expectations in Anaheim. They hoped to get better results than 37 points at this stage in the season, though I see this as matching their expectations as they reach a potential full rebuild soon.
The Duck are in the midst of a rebuilding season, but they’re still carrying around a lot of salary. With them failing to generate anything positive, expect them to try and shed some of it at the deadline. Allowing Corey Perry to walk in the offseason was the start of what will likely be more dominoes falling for the Ducks. The Coyotes on the other hand have just completed a rebuild and are looking to add talent.
Arizona head into Thursday night with a solid record of 22-16-4 and 48 points. They’re just 2 points behind the Golden Knights for 1st in the Pacific. If you were to say two teams from the desert would be leading a division in the NHL years ago people would have thought you were insane. I don’t know if the Coyotes can pull off a win in the Pacific, but they’re likely going to be fighting for a spot in the playoffs in a few months. The addition of Taylor Hall solidified their commitment to getting to the playoffs in 2019-20. They’re coming off an impressive 3-1 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champs from St. Louis. Head below for our free Ducks vs. Coyotes pick.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Arizona Coyotes Betting Odds:
Ducks vs. Coyotes Prediction:
The Ducks and Coyotes like to commit to the same approach in games. They want to ugly games up and rely on a solid defensive effort to get it done. The Coyotes are just considerably better at accomplishing what they set out to do, though. Anaheim tend to struggle with fundamentals too often. Their trip to Las Vegas is a perfect example, as they couldn’t clear a puck in the crease, and instead putting it into their own net. We don’t see breakdowns like that from the Coyotes as often. It’s going to happen, like the 8-5 loss they suffered against the Minnesota Wild a couple of weeks ago, but the Coyotes are better versed at bouncing back from lapses such as that.
The Coyotes are 3rd in the NHL with 2.52 goals against per game. They finished 6th in the league, having allowed 2.68 goals per game in 2018-19. It’s a considerable improvement from three years ago when the Coyotes allowed just over 3 goals per contest. That was a period where the Coyotes were stockpiling young talent, so they’re just beginning to see why it’s good to be patient when rebuilding a team. Unfortunately for the Yotes, though, they’ve missed Darcy Kuemper who has been week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Arizona has had to rely on Antti Raanta recently. He’s been a mixed bag, with a standout performance against the Blues in the Coyotes’ recent 3-1 win.
Raanta holds a 2.80 GAA and 0.918 save percentage, while Kuemper was recently selected to go to the All-Star Game with a 2.17 GAA and 0.929 save percentage. Raanta was expected to be the starter going into this season, and we’ve seen him play really well in the past, so the talent is there. The Ducks have struggled mightily to score this season, and it’s shown in the stats column. Anaheim has notched just 2.5 goals per game, and on the road it gets even worse, with an average of 2.3 red lights turned on.
The defensive game plan hasn’t worked out well for the Ducks. They’ve gotten nailed for 3.4 goals per game in their previous ten outings, while scoring just 2.1 per contest. You don’t have to be good at statistics to know that’s not going to result in a lot of wins. Raanta has been a standout against the Ducks in his career. He owns a 1.69 GAA and 0.93 save percentage in seven games, so the Coyotes should be able to get by without the services of Darcy Kuemper on Thursday night with the Ducks in town. Expect the Coyotes to edge out the Ducks following three periods of play.