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Pittsburgh vs. Anaheim Preview

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins (11-3-0-22) vs. Anaheim Ducks (4-6-2-10)

Where: Honda Center
Tuesday, November 3, 10 p.m.
WXDX Radio, FM 105.9
FSN Pittsburgh, the game will be broadcast in HD, available on Armstrong 179, Atlantic Broadband 782, Citizen 737, Comcast 226/774, DISH 428, DirecTV 659 and Verizon Fios 576.
*View FSN's Broadcast Schedule here()

Season Series:
Tuesday night’s matchup between Pittsburgh and Anaheim is the first of two contests between the teams in a 13-day span. The Penguins won the only game between the two last season, 3-1 at Mellon Arena on Jan. 16, behind two goals from Matt Cooke. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 of 22 shots for the victory.



Previous Meeting: Jan. 16, 2009
PIT 3, ANA 1
Game Highlights  
AP Recap
Stop the Top Line: Despite efforts to upgrade their complementary scoring, Anaheim still goes only as far as their top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan takes them. They are a difficult unit to defend because all three are so similar – great hands, big bodied and very physical. The Penguins need to keep this trio from wearing down the defense with their cycling game. 

First Period: One reason for Anaheim’s sub-.500 record is their first period struggles. In the first 12 games they have scored only five times in the opening frame while allowing 12 opposition scores. It requires extra energy when constantly playing from behind so a quick Penguins’ onslaught could take the life right out of the home team.
Anaheim has been one of the National Hockey League’s top teams since the league returned from hiatus five seasons ago. They won the Stanley Cup following the ’06-07 campaign and went to the conference finals the year before. Last season, after qualifying for the postseason as the No. 8 seed in the West, they upset the top-seeded San Jose Sharks in six games in round one, before pushing eventual Cup Finalist Detroit to seven games in the second round.

Perennially one of the more physical teams in the league, Anaheim is led by Randy Carlyle, who won the 1981 Norris Trophy as a defenseman for the Penguins. Carlyle took over prior to ’05-06, and during his reign the Ducks have never won fewer than 42 games. Under Carlyle the Ducks have been known for taking a good amount of penalties, but their penalty-killing unit has ranked among one of the best in the league. 
Feeling as though they were counting on too much offense from their top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry, Anaheim set out to add scoring depth to their second line during the offseason. That mission was accomplished when Joffrey Lupul was re-acquired from the Flyers in the Chris Pronger trade and Saku Koivu was signed as an unrestricted free agent. 

Lupul originally began his career with the Ducks before being traded to Edmonton following the ’05-06 season for Pronger. After three seasons away, Lupul returns as he and Pronger were exchanged in a package for one another yet again. Lupul is a three-time 20-goal scorer coming off a season of 25 goals and 25 assists for the Flyers. His return has been successful so far with five goals and eight points. Koivu comes to Anaheim after spending his first 13 winters in Montreal where he served as long-time captain. The creative playmaker came out west to join fellow countryman Teemu Selanne in an attempt to capture his first Cup. Koivu has one goal and five points through 12 games.

With Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski, Anaheim does not require their depth defenders to pick up a lot of extra minutes. The Ducks did bolster the back end of their rotation with the signings of a couple physical rearguards, Nick Boynton and Steve Eminger.
Anaheim’s top offensive line rivals any in the game today with Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan (See Player Spotlight below). Each is blessed with outstanding hands to match their impressive physical stature. Perry is off to a blazing start with team-leading totals of eight goals and 15 assists. One of the top power forwards in the game, Perry scored a career-high 32 times in ’08-09, and his strong early-season play has made him a favorite to make Canada’s Olympic roster. If Perry does make the Canadian team, he should find a familiar face in Getzlaf, a near-lock. Flying under the radar playing on the West Coast, Getzlaf is one of the game’s top playmakers, netting 66 helpers in ’08-09 to go with his 25 goals. Getzlaf tied Ilya Kovalchuk for sixth place among scoring leaders with 91 points.

Despite just turning 39 in July, Teemu Selanne continues to light the lamp at a prolific pace. He has six goals through 12 games after netting 27 last season in only 65 games. The ‘Finnish Flash’ still holds the rookie goal-scoring record with 76 in 1992-93 with the Winnipeg Jets. Former Penguin Eric Christensen had nine points (2G-7A) for the Ducks last season after arriving from Atlanta at the trade deadline. One of the deadliest shootout performers, Christensen has yet to record a point in 09-10. Tough-guy George Parros, born in Washington, Pa., serves as the Ducks’ enforcer, and is coming off a season where he registered career highs across the board in goals (5), assists (5) and points (10).
Ryan Whitney, acquired from the Penguins for Chris Kunitz on Feb. 26, 2009, might be the Ducks most consistent performer through the early going. Seeing ice time in all situations, Whitney has seven points (1G-6A) and a plus-3 rating that is second-best on the team. Anaheim looks to have gotten a steal with their acquisition of James Wisniewski from Chicago for Samuel Pahlsson at last year’s trade deadline. Wisniewski finished last campaign strong with 11 points (1G-10A) in 17 games for the Ducks. He has been even better this season, registering nine assists in nine games to go with his team-high plus-6 rating. He averages 25:24 of ice time, ranking third on the team behind only Whitney and Niedermayer. Fortunately for the Penguins, Wisniewski was recently suspended and will likely miss the showdown with Pittsburgh.
It did not make national headlines when former Anaheim general manager Brian Burke signed Swiss netminder Jonas Hiller on May 25, 2007. The expectation was Hiller would develop into a competent backup for Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was less than a year removed from leading Anaheim to a Stanley Cup championship. Last season Hiller’s outstanding play allowed him to take the No. 1 goaltending chores away from Giguere.

A rare right-handed puckstopper, Hiller went 23-15-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage for the Ducks in ’08-09. His real coming-out party occurred during the postseason when he nearly carried the Ducks on his back and into the Western Conference Finals. Hiller went 7-6 for Anaheim in the playoffs, posting a league-leading .943 save percentage to go with a 2.23 goals-against average which ranked third.

Giguere finished last season with a winning record, 19-18-6, but his 3.10 goals-against average and .900 save percentage were each his lowest totals since becoming Anaheim’s go-to-netminder in 2001. Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Ducks during the 2003 playoffs, leading Anaheim to within one victory of the title. He did lead Anaheim to the championship four years later when the Ducks defeated Ottawa in five games in 2007.
Bobby Ryan faced huge expectations after being the No.2-overall section behind Sidney Crosby in the 2005 draft. While Crosby took the league by storm from his first NHL shift, it took Ryan four years to secure permanent residence with the Ducks. He has proven over the past 13 months he was worth the wait.

A prototypical power forward, Ryan has really begun learning how to use all of his 6-foot-2, 208-pound frame. Tough on the forecheck and almost impossible to move when he plants himself in front of the net, Ryan scored 31 goals and registered 57 points in 64 games in ’08-09. In 13 playoff games Ryan added another five goals and two assists. Through the first 12 games this season he has four goals and three assists, including a breakout performance with two goals and an assist in a 7-2 win over Vancouver on Friday night.
Only one injury of note for Anaheim and it involves backup netminder Jean-Sebastien Gigure. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner is currently on the injured reserve list after straining his groin last week in a game against Columbus.
"We know what kind of player he is and we've been around him enough to understand that he's a goal-scorer and he can score some big goals for your hockey club. And he's done that. It's good to see that he's rewarded with a good start."

  – Randy Carlyle on Yahoo! Sports speaking about Corey Perry’s hot start to the season.

26:43: Average time spent on the ice through 12 games for former Penguin Ryan Whitney. That figure leads the Ducks and ranks third in the NHL prior to Monday’s games. 

Author: Jason Seidling

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