Anaheim vs Vancouver by Sweem
We have come five games into the season, and the hockey fans in California (at least the ones who support Anaheim) will now be able to attend a home game which they have longed for, as the Anaheim Ducks return home after a five game road trip on the east coast. Vancouver Canucks will have a very short trip themselves, from Los Angeles to Anaheim to get ready for this match up.
Randy Carlyle has been given the responsibility to try to go for a deep playoff run with the classic Anaheim Ducks, but the start of the season has been unpleasant, as the road trip was concluded with the first and only victory against Philadelphia Flyers. The start of the season is always tricky, and especially when the typical scenario appears of returning back home after a long road trip, across the entire country. This is a spot which is proven to be difficult, when being the hosts. The Anaheim Ducks have otherwise counted on production from the usual key pieces, Ryan Getzlaf expectedly lead the team in points, while Corey Perry have three points.
The problem is the goal scoring for the Ducks, as they only have 10 scored goals, which turns out to two per game in average - and that is simply too little in order to win many hockey games. The defense has been acceptable but not more - and now comes a home game after a long trip back home, to host the most in form team in the league to date. This comes with pressure, after the very questionable performances on the road, many would expect Anaheim to come up with an answer on home ice. John Gibson (.890 & 2.81 GAA) will likely start in goal.
Vancouver Canucks were predicted as one of the least likely teams to reach playoffs this season, and even if it is extremely early into the season - Vancouver have started in the best possible way and proven to be very stingy on defense, currently only allowed 2 goals per game, which is the best in the Western Conference. The biggest acquisition was easily the Swedish forward Loui Eriksson, who could form a line together with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, creating a full chemistry line, as they play together in the national team as well.
Brandon Sutter leads the team in points and assists, together with the Sedin brothers and they have linked up nicely as usual. They had a tough game against the heavy Los Angeles Kings just about a day ago, where they came back from 3-0 to 3-3 and eventually lost in overtime, but earned a point. It has been very typical Vancouver to hang on to the games and keep them very close, as four of their games have gone to overtime. Many factors point towards Jacob Markstrom (.923 & 1.94 GAA) starting in goal for the Canucks.
NHL is underway which is lovely, but it is also the most difficult league in the world to predict. However, this is a pretty typical situation which normally favors the visiting team. Not only does Vancouver have a better start than Anaheim, but they are also better on defense and more importantly - catch Aneheim on a home opener after a long road trip. It might sound motivating being the hosts, but hockey psychology plays part in this one and in my book this is closer to 50/50 and the Ducks have done nothing to deserve a favorite stamp in this encounter, all value is on Vancouver Canucks in this one and would not be surprised if they snatch a victory.