The Ducks had a successful return home to Honda Center tonight (in front of a reported sellout crowd of 17,174), as they beat the Red Wings 2-1 in game 3, to take the lead in the series 2 games to 1. This series was the hardest one for me to decide who I thought would win and I expected every game to be decided by only one goal. So far, the Ducks are on track to win in 6 (which was my prediction) and have won and lost the games I predicted they would by the numbers of goals I expected.
The Ducks have gotten very little respect in the playoffs this year and though I realize most east coast reporters probably don’t see the Ducks often, they play enough games on the east coast and have gotten far enough in the playoffs by now that a few members of the east coast based media outlets should have had time to catch the Ducks in the playoffs. Their 3OT game on Sunday (starting at just 2 p.m. eastern) even caught the attention of many people I know who rarely watch hockey teams other than their own (playoffs or not). It would seem that those who report hockey might have caught a bit of it, as well.
Those who saw the Ducks play since the trade deadline can’t be all that surprised by their performance in the playoffs so far this year. They may not have predicted that they’d beat the Sharks (I seemed to be one of the few who predicted that one), but they’re not all that surprised to see them in round two leading the Red Wings in the series and playing up to the level of one of the best teams in the playoffs.
Did the Ducks get a little bit lucky tonight with the whistle being blown a bit early as the Red Wings would have scored the tying goal? Definitely. Did Hiller perhaps earn that luck somehow by stopping 45 of the 46 shots he saved with a save percentage of .978? I’d say so. Someone in the press box was complaining that the Red Wings had outshot the Ducks 2-1. However, the Ducks did very well when the Sharks did that and like the games that started the series in San Jose, the Ducks mostly limited the Red Wings to shots Hiller could see easily and stop. Hiller gave a lot of credit to his defense for keeping Detroit from getting too many really good scoring chances where he couldn’t see the puck easily.
In other good news for hockey fans living in southern California who couldn’t get to the game, FSN West HD aired the game live and is currently showing it again (even though the guide says off the air). Clearly the complaints they got in the first round for not airing games in HD while Versus HD was blocked out in the area were taken to heart. The schedules I’ve seen have included HD for all the upcoming games of the series (on FSN, Versus, or both).