The Anaheim Ducks are in an incredibly good position on Saturday night as they look to take a 3-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final.
The Ducks have benefitted from some luck in the series, as the Blackhawks have led the way in terms of possession, but to their credit the Ducks have also played some outstanding defense.
They’ve only allowed three even strength goals so far in the series, doing a nice job with a tough situation in shutting down elite players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
With that in mind, here are three keys for them to focus on as they try to take a stranglehold on this series Saturday night.
Stay Out of the Penalty Box
The Ducks held the Blackhawks to just one shot on goal in five power play attempts on Thursday night, and even though the game was a mixture of comical ineffectiveness by the Hawks and suffocating defensive pressure by Anaheim, the Ducks would be well-advised to avoid tempting fate like that again.
Playing their physical game, the Ducks are inevitably going to commit some penalties, but they have to avoid the blatantly bad ones that they committed in Game 3. Jakob Silfverberg’s high stick and Ryan Kesler’s holding penalty were both totally avoidable, so the Ducks have to clean up their act so they aren’t passing out free chances like candy on Christmas.
Getzlaf Needs to Shoot More
The Ducks have gotten some incredible offensive production out of their top line so far in this postseason, with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry doing a ton of damage as teams find it difficult to deal with players of their caliber.
One thing that the Ducks have said they would like to see out of that group is for Getzlaf to shoot more often as the series goes on. He has nine shots on goal so far against the Blackhawks, but seven of those came in the Game 2 triple overtime thriller, so he has to take a bit of a more proactive approach to his offensive game in order to help the Ducks succeed on Saturday.
Withstand Early Pressure
The Blackhawks are going to come out guns blazing on Saturday. They have gobs of playoff experience in their arsenal, but even with the confidence that they can bounce back from adversity, they still know just how high a mountain they would have to climb if they drop behind 3-1 in this series.
Knowing that, the Ducks have to stay committed to their game plan as the onslaught approaches: Stay physical with their blue liners behind the play; aggressively forecheck with their forwards in the neutral zone; get strong, poised goaltending from Frederik Andersen and clear out loose pucks from the front of the net to minimize chances.