Duck lines and flying Vs

On November 28, 2001, Jussi Markkanen made his first career NHL start, in Anaheim. He made 27 saves en route to a 2-0 shutout victory. He has a dominant career record against the Ducks (5-1), and if he were the Oilers backup goalie I’d start him there tonight.

Mathieu Garon, tonight’s likely starter, has a 5-9 career against the Ducks (NHL.com will tell you it’s better than that, but then again, they believe that a shootout loss deserves its own column). Of course, I’d imagine that most of those games were played as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, and that isn’t conducive to a good W-L record. Speaking of those same Kings, they had their first win of the season last night, a 6-3 victory over Anaheim. How did Randy Carlyle deploy his players last night?

Well, to start with, he got his MacBlender going. Here are his lines from the Duck’s third loss in as many games:

Kunitz/Carter – Getzlaf – Perry
Kunitz/Carter – Morrison – Selanne
May – Sutherby – Parros
Moen – Pahlsson – Marchant

Niedermayer – Beauchemin
Pronger – Klee/McIver
Klee – Montador

Terry Murray played an even more mixed up system, keeping pairs together and moving players around, double-shifting at will, and drawing names from a hat to decide who would line up on defence (except, of course, that Drew Doughty must always have Sean O’Donnell looking over his shoulder). Doughty sat out the third with “flu-like symptoms”, which, as James Mirtle points out, could mean anything from the flu to electrocution during the second-intermission.

Adding to the confusion, both teams had nine power-play opportunities, with the Kings scoring three goals and the Ducks scoring no goals.

I was going to try and drag line match-ups out of the mess that was this game, but it’s much too difficult—both coaches went with forward pairs rather than lines for much of the night, and each double shifted defencemen (Klee for Carlyle, O’Donnell for Murray).

There weren’t a lot of surprises anyway. Carlyle tried to get Pahlsson out against Kopitar, and Getzlaf/Perry saw a bunch of Alexander Frolov/Michal Handzus. Beyond that, Morrison/Selanne and the Sutherby were out against everybody; in theory, this Anaheim team has four lines that can play against any opposition.

I’m not a fan of scratching Stortini for this one; he’s exactly the kind of player to dress against an undisciplined team because he gets under people’s skin, but presumably MacTavish has his reasons (wanting a closer look at Pouliot before a decision is made on him comes to mind). I’d expect the match-ups to go something like this tonight:

Cole – Horcoff – Hemsky vs. Moen – Pahlsson – Marchant
Nilsson – Cogliano – Gagner vs. Carter – Morrison – Selanne
Moreau – Pisani – Penner vs. Kunitz – Getzlaf – Perry
MacIntyre/Penner – Brodziak – Pouliot vs. May – Sutherby – Parros

Still, if the penalties flow as freely as they did yesterday, even-strength line-matching won’t be a big part of this game.

—Jonathan Willis is the force behind the Copper and Blue, and a frequent OilersNation contributor.

  • Hippy

    How ’bout it, Willis? Any analysis on who’s the better candidate for the Selke between Pouliot and Stortini?

    I don't think there's much clearance defensively between any of Brodziak, Stortini or Pouliot. Brodziak's the best offensively, and has the widest range of skills, but may be weaker than either of them in his own end.

    MacT trusted Stortini on the checking line for a while last year, and he uses Pouliot on the PK, and both have had nice GAON/60 numbers against lower-level competition. Basically, I'd just echo David Staple's comment above: "I go with Storts in this game as Anaheim is a tough team."

    On your matchups, Anaheim will have the last change, no? Why then would they put their top line out against our checkers when they can beat the crap out of our kid line? Seems much more logical to me that they’d want Getzlaf and Selanne to succeed.

    Well, I think Getzlaf and co. will see some time against the kids, but Carlyle doesn't seem to have tried to hard to get them away from Handzus/Frolov, and I think MacT would vastly prefer to get Pisani's line out against them.

    Basically, the thinking is that Carlyle may have the advantage, but not the desire to press it as much as MacTavish will.

    Of course, given how varied the opposition was that the Kid Line faced in Colorado, maybe MacTavish doesn't dodge the matchup at all.

  • Hippy

    NO!!!!! It's a McBeating not a SMacing.

    Damn it – our joke has been ruined.

    (sulks over to the corner and sits down. Starts to shine the shotgun sitting beside the chair and staring menacingly about)

  • Hippy

    Jonathan:

    On your matchups, Anaheim will have the last change, no? Why then would they put their top line out against our checkers when they can beat the crap out of our kid line? Seems much more logical to me that they'd want Getzlaf and Selanne to succeed.

  • Hippy

    Pou isn't a bad defensive player, and is clearly the better of the two offensively.

    Stortini is impeccable at one key defensive fundamental, keeping his body between his own net and the opposition player. Does that as well as anyone on the team, save perhaps Horc and Pisani, who get that done, but also play more sophisticated defensive games.

    I go with Storts in this game as Anaheim is a tough team.

  • Hippy

    Pou is as good if not better than Stortini in the dzone. Storts plays in pretty small area when hes out there and doesnt cover much ground. Playing up high while the other two on his line are pressing.

    Pou is also a threat when hes on his game.

  • Hippy

    David, I was going to ask Willis for stats on who played the toughest defensive minutes between Pouliot, Stortini, and MacIntyre last year, but since I'm not sure if they keep stats in the CEHL, I'll settle for the scoop on the first two.

    How 'bout it, Willis? Any analysis on who's the better candidate for the Selke between Pouliot and Stortini?

  • Hippy

    Dragon. So to address your point, I'm not convinced Pou is a better defensive forward than Stortini, so I'd be comfortable with those SMactiniaks.

    Put them out against Pronger, tell them to go fetch.

  • Hippy

    I've been playing wayyy too much NHL 09. All i see when i look at those lines are player ratings… 83,75,87.

    Gagner is probably the most useless player on the team and Schremp has more potential….

    I think we need SMac in the lineup tonight and I'm really hoping he lays out Kunitz/Perry/Pronger. The only problem with this enforcer stuff is what happens when he gets 5 and 10 and hes not on the ice.

  • Hippy

    "SMac." I like that, Bruce.

    I'm OK with Stortini vs. Parros, too. Acutally, SMac is really only needed for about 20 games a year, Calgary, Minnesota. But let's see what SMac can do, both as a fighter and as a player.

    As you know, I think Stortini is an underrated defensive player, so he will be missed in that regard.

    Me, I'd sit Pouliot and play both Stortini and Smac, with Brodziak.

    Call it the SMactiniak Line.

  • Hippy

    I actually like the idea of Pouliot playing against the Ducks; seems like the kind of team he would excel against (physical aspect).

    As a result, I would be forced to sit one of the kids so that MacIntyre could play on their line. 😀

  • Hippy

    Here's a question; we already know that SMacIntyre was brought in for reasons other than his stickhandling prowess. With this information up front, it stands to reason that anyone you have on the ice with him must be able to play well enough defensively that they're going to be able to keep the puck out of their own net while MacIntyre skates around looking for his intended victim. Supposing even further that you decided to remove Pouliot from the equation and insert Stortini instead, with Brodziak centering the two. That's a line that draws full marks for an assault team, but can they keep the puck out of their own net for even one whole shift? Even with a top-line defensive pairing back there, it could be that MacT drew in Pouliot just because he doesn't trust SMacIntyre and Huggy-Bear to play defensively enough on the same line, and he's not yet ready to break-up his brainchild creation on the third line to make room for a goon on both squads.

  • Hippy

    No argument from me. I have no concerns with Stortini's ability to grapple with the likes of Parros if need be, and far more confident in the rest of his game than I am with the unknown SMac. One of Zack's major attributes is his discipline, as exemplified by this "stat" from 2007-08:

    NHL: 23 fighting majors, 0 instigating penalties
    AHL: 1 fighting major, 1 instigating penalty

    Seems like Zack was trying to get noticed during his brief demotion, but once he got called back up his modus operandi was to answer the bell but not take any stupid and/or selfish extra penalties in the process. Whereas tonight we might see SMac trying to get noticed during his (brief?) promotion.

    What do we know about this guy really? In the past 7 seasons he has played for 9 teams in 6 different professional leagues, only once scoring more than 5 points (in the CEHL, whatever that is), while accumulating over 200 minutes in penalties.

    Smacking down Vandermeer — who had it coming IMO — in an exhibition game was an OK start, but this guy is under the microscope tonight. Let's hope he's not so excited that he does something to damage the team's chances, or its reputation.

  • Hippy

    I also wish Zack was dressed for tonights game, we could've been on the pp all night. Plus after Smacintyre pounds someone I see the Ducks taking shots when he is in the box