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GENE'S BLOG: Their Ducks in a Row

In his latest blog, Gene Principe previews the round two series between Edmonton and Anaheim

by Gene Principe / Special to

I have no doubt Anaheim will be in a 'fowl' mood in their series with Edmonton. First off they are Ducks, secondly they have a Cam Fowl-er on their team and thirdly they don't like the Oilers and vice versa. This is a rivalry and a series I'm really looking forward to. This is just an extension of their battle right to the finish line. The two were playing a standings tennis match going back and forth from first to second. In the end, the Ducks outlasted the Oilers by a pair of points 105 to 103. The season series was close 3-2 in favour of Edmonton and this seven-game series should be the same.

Anaheim is a little younger, a little (maybe a lot) nastier and a little less experienced than the San Jose Sharks. Are they better? Depends on who you talk to. The Ducks may be regular season better with five straight division titles while the Sharks proved last playoffs they were post-season better. I think the Ducks will be more difficult to beat than the Sharks.

Part of it has to do with the way they are built. Mobile and skilled defencemen along with bruising and burly forwards. They've also got a mix of speed (see Andrew Cogliano) and skill (Rickard Rakell) and experience. Yes, they have a couple of Stanley Cup winners in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. These two have combined to win just about everything. Mastercard Memorial Cups, World Cups, World Championships and Olympic gold medals. That is experience that cannot be purchased but has to be earned.

Plus, let's be honest, they have players on their team you can easily dislike. On SJ you may not like their beards but hard to get a hate on for players like Brent Burns and Joe Thornton let alone an all-around nice guy like Patrick Marleau. Different tale to be told about the Ducks. There's Corey Perry who I'd love to have on my team which means the standard follow up is that you hate to play against him. The winger could get under his own mom's skin. He's irritating, sneaky, not to be trusted and darn good. Once a 50-goal scorer, those totals are from years ago but big goals are not a thing of the past. I think some players score goals and some are a thorn in your side but Perry has found a balance to do both pretty well.

If you don't like Corey Perry how might Edmonton Oilers fans feel about Ryan Kesler? Alright don't answer the question because I'm not sure you can without adding a few expletives. Ryan Kesler is not a fun loving, easy going guy on camera or in front of the media. Behind the scenes I trust you will get many positive and pleasant remarks from past and current teammates. Even if they don't really like him, they certainly like what he does. His job is to stop the other team's star or in this case superstar in the making. Connor McDavid meet Ryan Kesler. You two are going to be seeing a lot of each other. Anaheim will have a defensive pairing in mind to help out but this is a one-vs-one assignment. Reminds me of when Boston used to play Edmonton and Steve Kasper would shadow Wayne Gretzky. How close was Kasper to Gretzky? Wayne would go to the bathroom and Steve would wash his hands. Yeah that's how close he followed him everywhere. Expect it to be a similar status between McDavid and Kesler. It's like good vs evil on the ice.

I haven't even mentioned Pat Maroon. Traded to Edmonton for nothing (no offence taken Martin Gernat and a 4th round pick) but really the Oilers secured a near 30 goal scorer for a pittance and Anaheim is still paying him to play. You can just see it in the smile of Maroon when he talks about his old team he's got the "I'm going to shove it where the sun don't shine" and we all know the sun is always shining in southern California. This Big Rig is motivated to make the Ducks pay for their decision to send him out of state and country. I haven't even mentioned the goaltending lineup of Cam Talbot and John Gibson. They could decide the eventual winner depending on which one quacks (I mean cracks) first.

For all of that was written above and other developing storylines this should be a great series. A winnable one for Edmonton if they just make sure to get all their Ducks in a row.

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