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Pittsburgh vs. Anaheim Preview

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins (13-7-0-26) vs. Anaheim Ducks (6-9-3-15)

Where: Mellon Arena
Monday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 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:
Pittsburgh and Anaheim conclude their season series at Mellon Arena. The Penguins won the first meeting in Anaheim, 4-3, on Nov. 3 to stretch their winning streak against the Ducks to three games. Pascal Dupuis beat Jonas Hiller at 9:13 of the third period, a mere 59 seconds after Saku Koivu tied the game for Anaheim, to secure the victory.




Last Meeting: Nov. 3, 2009
PIT 4 - ANA 3
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. This unit was effective in controlling the puck in the first matchup, scoring the first two Anaheim goals. 

Traffic on Hiller:
When Jonas Hiller sees the shot, he is more than likely going to make the save. He ranks among the top performers in the NHL with a .917 save percentage despite Anaheim allowing 33.9 shots per game through Saturday. Alex Goligoski and Pascal Dupuis each beat Hiller with point shots through traffic in the first meeting.
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, four games to two 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 usually ranks among one of the best in the league, though it is struggling right now. 
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 reacquired 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 two goals and eight points through 15 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. Each is blessed with outstanding hands to match their impressive physical stature. Perry is off to a blazing start with team-leading totals of 12 goals and 21 points. He scored twice in the first matchup with the Penguins. 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. Second-year star Ryan continues to cement his status as one of the game’s up-and-coming power forwards with seven goals and 12 points through 17 games. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound Ryan lit the lamp 31 times in 64 games last year.

Despite just turning 39 in July, Teemu Selanne continues to light the lamp at a prolific pace. He has nine goals through 17 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. Pittsburgh needs to be aware of physical checking-line forward Evgeny Artyukhin, one of the league’s hardest body checkers. 
Anaheim’s strength has long resided on the blue line. Despite the loss of Chris Pronger that remains the case. Four-time Stanley Cup champion and team captain Scott Niedermayer headlines this crew. One of the smoothest skaters to ever lace a pair of skates, Niedermayer is one of the league’s major minute-eaters in addition to his wondrous offensive and defensive ability. His 59 points (14G-45A) last season ranked third (tied) among all blueliners.

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 eight points (1G-7A) and a plus-5 rating that leads the Ducks. Defensive-minded Brendan Mikkelson’s simple game is a perfect complement to the Ducks’ big-three offensive defenseman, Niedermayer, Whitney and James Wisniewski (See Player Spotlight below). Mikkelson plays smart in his own zone and has proven adept at moving the puck north-south in his first full campaign. 
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. Hiller currently boasts a 6-6-1 record to go with his 2.79 goals-against average and 9.17 save percentage.

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.
Anaheim was without James Wisniewski the first time they played the Penguins. A player who has emerged into a defensive stalwart, Wisniewski was serving a two-game suspension. He will be back in this game, and the Penguins will have to account for him at both ends of the rink, as he has 10 assists in 12 games in addition to his fine defensive work.

Wisniewski, averaging 25:26 of ice time, came to Anaheim from the Chicago Blackhawks at last March’s trading deadline in exchange for Samuel Pahlsson. He posted strong offensive numbers with 11 points (1G-10A) in 17 games with Anaheim.
Anaheim has played recently without two of their top-12 forwards.
- Center Saku Koivu is day-to-day with a strained groin.
- Center Ryan Carter suffered a bruised right foot Thursday after taking a shot from Ryan Whitney during practice.
"We are desperate for a win on the road. I didn't think we played that poor a hockey game. But we will take the point and move on. It's not easy to win on the road." 

– Randy Carlyle dissecting Anaheim’s 3-2 shootout loss to Columbus Friday night on the Ducks official team website.

75.0: Anaheim’s penalty-killing rate through Saturday, third-worst figure in the NHL. 

Author: Jason Seidling

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