Morning Report: It's Go Time for Ducks
After a disappointing five-game homestand, the Ducks will look to get back on track during a three-game road trip that begins tonight in Calgary.
In an effort to shake his players of out a mini-slump, head coach Bruce Boudreau switched up the line combinations in practice yesterday. After getting some time on the top line during Monday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Patrick Maroon once again skated with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, while the usually untouched shutdown line of Daniel Winnik, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano got split up.
Koivu skated alongside Teemu Selanne during the Tuesday afternoon practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Whether that carries over into tonight’s game remains to be seen, but it’s all in an effort to rejuvenate a Ducks team sporting a mediocre 4-5-2 record since a 3-0 victory over the LA Kings at Dodger Stadium on January 25.
"This is the biggest road trip of the season for sure," said forward Corey Perry. "We've talked about it. We know what our record is in the past 10-12 games. We know we're better."
Standing in their way is a Calgary Flames team that’s been scratching the finish off the Western Conference floor for the better part of the season. Currently mired in 13th place in the West, Calgary’s scoring woes have them ranked 29th in total goals scored (148), with only Buffalo (123) having scored less.
Staying healthy has also been a challenge for the Flames, who have lost 208 man games due to injury. But they can expect at least one player back in the lineup tonight, as Curtis Glencross is set to make his return after missing 29 consecutive games with an ankle injury. The veteran forward has six goals and 12 points in 21 games this season. However, Flames leading scorer Jiri Hudler (44 points), defenseman Dennis Wideman and goaltender Karri Ramo are still out, as is rookie forward Markus Granlund, who left Monday’s game against the Kings with an apparent shoulder injury.
The Ducks are expected to have one of Mathieu Perreault or Luca Sbisa back in tonight’s lineup. Perreault, who’s been out with an upper-body injury for the past four games, figures to be the one, as he was centering a line with Matt Beleskey and Tim Jackman during yesterday’s practice. Sbisa left Friday’s game against the Penguins with a lower-body injury, but skated yesterday.
Fans anxious to see defenseman Stephane Robidas make his Ducks debut can look forward to next Tuesday at Honda Center against the Washington Capitals. The 37-year-old defenseman set a return date of March 14, but last week Boudreau said he wanted to avoid putting him into the lineup in either of the back-to-back games this Friday and Saturday against Colorado and Los Angeles.
In addition to being 26-4-5 when scoring the first goal, the Ducks are a league-best 17-11-2 (.567 win %) when their opponent scores first. No other NHL team owns a .500-or-better record when allowing the first goal (by win %).
EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano-Nick Bonino-Jakob Silfverberg
Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Teemu Selanne
Kyle Palmieri-Mathieu Perreault-Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler-Ben Lovejoy*
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Bryan Allen-Mark Fistric
*Lovejoy did not take part in the morning skate due to illness, and Boudreau says he’s questionable for tonight’s game.
All signs point to Jonas Hiller starting this game, as he was the first off the ice this morning.
Anaheim and Calgary continue a four-game season series Wednesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Ducks are 2-0-0 vs. the Flames this season, including a 3-2 win on Oct. 16 and 5-2 victory on Nov. 29 at Honda Center. Anaheim is 18-6-1 against its new Pacific Division rival dating to Nov. 29, 2007. The Ducks own an all-time record of 43-33-8 against the Flames, including a 14-25-2 mark in Calgary. Following Wednesday's game, the season series will return to the Saddledome for the finale on Mar. 26.