The Anaheim Ducks have yet to be beaten so far in the postseason, and they will look to continue their undefeated run as they take on the Calgary Flames in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-Final on Tuesday night.
Thus far in the series, the Ducks have dominated the proceedings in every conceivable way, outscoring the Flames 9-1, outshooting them 69-54, and holding them scoreless on their power play while picking up two power play goals of their own as they've grabbed control of the series.
They've also been getting production from places all over their lineup, with the first line combining for nine points in the first game and the second line picking up a goal and two assists thanks to a gorgeous play by Jakub Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler, and Matt Beleskey that set the tone for a Game 2 shutout triumph for the Ducks.
Add to that mix the fact that their defense has played largely solid hockey throughout two games, and that goaltender Frederik Andersen has stopped 53 shots so far in the series, and it's easy to see why the Ducks are already in the driver's seat and looking to take a nearly insurmountable three-game lead if they can win on Tuesday night.
Of course, things in the postseason can change in an instant, and the Flames aren't a team that is going to go away quietly. Throughout the season, the team has made a habit of coming back in tough circumstances, and they have the confidence to do so again in this series. Goaltender Karri Ramo is still untested, and young forwards like Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are getting their first taste of playoff hockey this year, but they all play with an impressive lack of fear, and that should work to Calgary's advantage in this game.
Despite that willingness to play hard and fearlessly, Monahan has been largely shut down during this series, and a big part of the reason why has been the play of the Ducks' second line against him.
According to some interesting data published by Travis Yost of TSN, the Kesler line has been on the ice against Monahan over 60% of the time so far in this series, and the results speak for themselves.
In nearly 36 minutes of ice time so far in the series, Monahan has managed just two shots on goal and is a minus-3 for the Flames, and that kind of performance simply won’t be enough to get it done in this series.
If the Flames are going to stage a comeback against the Ducks, it starts with getting Monahan going. It's going to help matters that Calgary coach Bob Hartley will be able to dictate matchups against the Ducks on home ice, meaning that he can get the youngster away from the Kesler line, but even then that by itself won't be enough. Monahan has to get into scoring areas with more regularity, and he has to play a more aggressive game for the Flames.
As for the Ducks, they'll have to respond to that by upping the ante in terms of puck possession. Throughout this postseason they have used a great blend of checking and speed to get the puck and keep it, and they'll have to do that again in Game 3 in order to be successful. Keeping the puck away from the Flames will help keep the crowd out of the contest, and an early goal would certainly help matters as well.