Morning skate: Ducks hoping for better outcome in Game 3 vs. Oilers
Greetings from Edmonton, where the Ducks had an optional morning skate in advance of today’s Game 3 of their second-round playoff series against the Oilers. After the Oilers won the first two games at Anaheim, winning Sunday night is imperative for the Ducks, to put it mildly.
The Ducks attempted 85 shots on Friday in a 2-1 loss, with 40 of those reaching Edmonton goaltender Cam Talbot, 18 others blocked by the Oilers, and 27 shots missing the mark. Oilers captain Connor McDavid said his team felt fortunate to have escaped the Honda Center with a win that night.
“We definitely stole one in Game 2. Maybe we didn’t deserve to win but we ultimately did just enough to get it,” McDavid said Sunday morning at Rogers Place. “We’ve got to be ready and we’ve got to be better at home…. This is big for us. A 3-0 series is a lot different from a 2-1 series.”
Talbot credited his teammates with allowing him to see most of the shots launched toward him on Friday.
“We gave up a large shot volume but everything from the outside, for the most part, I was able to see and track it,” he said, “and it’s a lot easier to control those rebounds and not give up those second chances when I can see those pucks. All those guys did a good job of tying up sticks and getting bodies out of my way so I could focus on that first shot.”
Staying in his way, of course, is the Ducks’ plan, as it would be against any good goalie. Coach Randy Carlyle said he wasn’t unhappy with his team’s effort on Friday, just unhappy with the outcome.
“We’re looking for results. It’s a results-driven business we’re in,” he said. “They scored two. We scored one. There’s a good feeling in our group because of the work ethic that we provided and the number of chances that we created, and now we know we’re going to come into a somewhat hostile environment and that’s what’s going to be expected. We’re going to try and use the crowd and use this as a springboard for us. The emotions will be high but we have to stay disciplined and go forward. We’re not looking behind, that’s for sure.
“We just have to go out and play 60 minutes of committed, structured hockey, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Ondrej Kase or Nic Kerdiles could replace Ritchie if needed, or if Carlyle decides to make a change. “Kase is a skilled player,” Carlyle said. “He was with us for the better part of the year. He’s kind of like the Energizer bunny out there. He can make plays in small areas. He can score goals. He’s an energized young hockey player that’s getting his feet wet in the NHL and this would be his first opportunity to participate in the Stanley Cup playoffs.”
One other interesting note: McDavid, the NHL’s scoring leader, was been held to a single assist in the first two games against the Ducks after he had collected four points in the Oilers’ six-game elimination of the San Jose Sharks in the first round. He’s normally very soft-spoken, but when a reporter asked him Sunday if he expects more from himself than he has so far produced, he raised his voice to make the point that he puts his team before individual accomplishments.
“It does not matter at all,” he said. “We’re up, 2-0, coming home. That’s all that really should matter.”
But if the Ducks have done well to limit McDavid by having Ryan Kesler shadow him, they’ve repeatedly been burned by his linemate, Leon Draisaitl, who had a goal and series-leading four points in the first two games. “Playing with Leon, if you want to cover me or shadow me or whatever, that leaves a little more space for him and forces them to make a choice,” McDavid said.