Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 9:48 AM PT
It's a mother of a road trip the Anaheim Ducks are currently on, and it's not the easiest place to start it. Sure, Chicago is a great town to visit, but this is a work trip for the Ducks, who open this seven-game extravaganza against a good Blackhawks team in a tough building.
Those Hawks are coming off a disappointing 5-4 loss to Colorado on Saturday night, in which they spoiled a big comeback by giving up the tying goal with 1:48 left in regulation and fell in a shootout. Still, they have scored at least a standings point in six straight games.
The Ducks, of course, have some recent disappointments of their own, having dropped their last two games, to division rivals Dallas and Phoenix. And Randy Carlyle has responded to those losses by doing some line shaking, incorporating the recently recalled Patrick Maroon into a pretty high-profile spot. Maroon, who joined the team in Chicago after coming up from Syracuse, skated yesterday with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the top line. Bobby Ryan was moved to the second line with the Finns.
When asked yesterday if the big Maroon would indeed be in the lineup to make his NHL debut against the Blackhawks, Carlyle said, "”We usually don’t bring a player up and not play him. Now is it tomorrow night? Well, maybe. He will see some action on the road trip.”
Said Maroon, who had four goals and four assists with the Crunch in just six games, told the OC Register, “It’d be really exciting. Obviously it would be my first NHL game. Playing my first NHL game with Getzlaf and Perry would be pretty cool too. If I play, I know what I need to do. If I don’t, things happen. Maybe next time. I’m out there to fight and show them I want to be here.”
Whether Maroon stays on that line to start the game remains to be seen, and Carlyle has never hesitated to do some mid-game jumbling too, as he did against Phoenix on Sunday. Tonight, by the way, is Carlyle's 500th NHL game as a coach (all with Anaheim).
As far as that third line of Gordon, Cogliano and Smith-Pelly goes, they were together in practice yesterday and there was some discussion of how long DSP will stay with the big club. The 19-year-old has two more games before hitting the noted 10-game mark. If the Ducks did send him to juniors after the 10 games, it would burn a year on his existing three-year contract. (A demotion to juniors would mean he couldn't come back up until his season with Mississauga ended.)
Randy Carlyle spoke about that topic as well yesterday, saying, "I think there’s a misconception that he has to go back. So there’s always this barrier thats put on the 10-game mark to save the organization a year before free agency. Let’s wipe that out. We try to do an analysis. Is he making a contribution to our group?
“He’s been a steady player. He’s had some up and downs. He’s been in some situations where he does excel at if he stays on the body and plays that neat and tidy game. The other thing, as I’ve stated before, is he has to make a contribution on the offensive side of it at some point. And that’s not any different than any other member of our third and fourth lines.”
After tonight, the Ducks continue a trip that, while daunting, is friendlier than it could have been schedule-wise. Aside from a Saturday-Sunday back-to-back at Nashville and at Columbus, the Ducks have a day off between every game on this trip, which finishes with Washington on Nov. 1, Rangers on the third and Detroit on the fifth. Then it's another four days before taking on Nashville at home on the ninth.
For a closer look at each of the destinations on the trip, take a look at Matt Vevoda's piece here on the website.