Scouting Report: Anaheim Ducks
By Eric Smith
FOX Sports Ohio
Friday, January 7th, 2011
The Blue Jackets' (20-17-3) season is at a tipping point as they head to southern California to take on the Anaheim Ducks (21-18-4) at the Honda Center on Friday night. The Jackets could easily tip over and spiral down the Western Conference standings right to the bottom or they will tip this ship into the right direction and start the slow methodical march up the standings. The Ducks could reveal which team that will be as their brand of hockey will require Columbus to play committed and for a full 60 minutes.
Columbus will not have to face Ryan Getzlaf, who has been a thorn in the side of the Jackets both on the score board and physically each time they meet. The physical center has 25 points in 21 career games against the Blue Jackets and he currently has 37 points in 40 games played this season for the Ducks.
Getzlaf is out of action for up to six weeks with multiple nasal sinus fractures after being struck in the forehead on a deflected shot off the stick of Phoenix captain Shane Doan on Dec. 28.
Bobby Ryan has taken Getzlaf's spot at center on the top line, with Corey Perry staying at his right wing position, but Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle doesn't have many options to put at the other wing spot. As of right now, they are lining up Matt Beleskey at left wing but with only one goal in 18 games, he's not the offensive answer they are looking for.
With this injury it will put addition pressure on the second line to produce more points. Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu are being looked at to pick up the slack. The 40 year old Selanne is doing all he can with 35 points in 34 games, but they need him to twist the twine more as he sits with 10 goals. It certainly could happen against the Blue Jackets -- he has lit up Columbus plenty through the years. With 14 goals and 31 points in 30 career games against Columbus, he will be a player to watch for the Jackets.
The Ducks will also lean even more on outstanding goalie Jonas Hiller (19-14-3) to steal games given the team is ranked 23rd in the league in scoring with 2.51 goal average per game. Anaheim doesn't make it easy on him as they are letting teams fire away on their goaltender 34.3 times a game, the worst average in the Western Conference. Hiller has been up to the task so far with a 2.52 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.
This is a critical game for the Blue Jackets as they have lost the first two games on this four-game road trip. If they are going to salvage anything on this trip it will need to start against Anaheim. Here are the keys for the Jackets to come away with two points:
1. Be Tough