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Photo Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #3: Three things to watch for against Anaheim

Following their shocking 4-3 win against the Dallas Stars, the Red Wings will now welcome in the undefeated Anaheim Ducks. 

Surprisingly, the Ducks have begun the 2019-20 season with a 2-0 record. Like the Red Wings, this season is supposed to be yet another rebuilding year for the Ducks. Clearly captain Ryan Getzlaf and his teammates didn’t get that memo coming into this season. Both the Red Wings and Ducks have been pleasant surprises through the opening week of the regular season. 

Although, one of these teams will lose their undefeated streaks after this game. In order for the Red Wings to remain unbeaten, they’ll need to receive offensive production from someone other than forward Anthony Mantha. 

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

Based on today’s morning skate, Andreas Athanasiou looks to be making his season debut. Athanasiou has missed Detroit’s first two games due to a lingering injury. His added presence is very much needed, as the Red Wings have failed to generate a strong attack outside of the top-line. Last year’s 30 goal man slots in on the half-wall on the second powerplay unit.

The timing of Athanasiou’s return is also key, with Frans Nielsen being placed on injury reserve Tuesday afternoon.

Madison Bowey also draws in for his season debut. Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson hit IR as well, making way for Bowey. He joins Dennis Cholowski on the third pair. But expect the former Washington Capital to see sheltered minutes, seeing as Daley was barely cracking 15 minutes a game.

Anaheim Ducks

This is a Ducks lineup that is much younger then in years past. Isac Lundestrom, Max Jones, and Troy Terry form a nice young nucleus for Anaheim to build off of as they pursue a rebuild.

But its not surprising to see them have the start they’ve had.

There are some very good players on this team. John Gibson is arguably the best goaltender in the game, Rickard Rakell is a lock for 20 goals a year, and Ondrej Kase might just be the league’s most underrated player.

Like the Red Wings, this isn’t a team you can just write off. They compete hard and have enough skill to sneak away with a win. Gibson will certainly give them a chance. Detroit has yet to face a starting goaltender this season, so starting off with the very best will make this a tough one.

Three Thoughts

1.) Anthony Mantha’s Production 

The 25-year-old has definitely picked up where he left off last season. Through just two games this season, Mantha has recorded five goals and seven points, including his four-goal performance during Sunday night’s home opener. Mantha’s four goals were also the most scored in a single game by a Red Wings’ player since Johan Franzen produced a total of five back on Feb. 2, 2011. 

Mantha’s production is one of the biggest reasons why the Red Wings have begun the season unbeaten. The 20th overall pick from the 2013 NHL Draft has been involved in seven of the Red Wings nine goals this season. So, the Ducks will surely be focusing on Mantha every time he steps onto the ice. 

2.) Power Play Struggles

The Red Wings have extremely faltered on the power play through their two games this season. Converting on just one of their ten opportunities with the extra man, the Red Wings currently own the worst PP% in the Eastern Conference. Mantha’s lone goal on the power play has been the only success for the Red Wings’ PP unit this season.

Coming into this game, the Ducks’ penalty killing unit has been a perfect five-for-five when they’ve been shorthanded this season. While the Red Wings have done an impressive job at drawing a total of ten penalties through just two games, they’ll need to be more effective at taking advantage of those penalties against the Ducks. 

3.) John Gibson’s Dominance

Despite the Ducks receiving production from all four of their lines, the credit for their undefeated record deserves to go towards goaltender Gibson. The 26-year-old has posted an outstanding 1.00 GAA along with a .971 SV% as well. 

Similar to the Red Wings, the Ducks have also heavily relied on their goaltender through the first two games of the season, as Gibson has faced a combined 69 shots so far. If the Ducks are able to prevent the Red Wings’ first line from scoring, then this will likely be a very low scoring affair in Hockeytown.