DUCKS (0-1-0) at WILD (0-1-0)
The Ducks and Wild split their four games last season, each team winning once in the other's building. Anaheim's Corey Perry
had three goals and Bobby Ryan
had two goals in four games, while Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom won twice in net. Andrew Brunette scored twice for Minnesota, as did the now-departed Stephane Veilleux.
Tonight’s game marks the fourth time Saku and Mikko Koivu have faced each another during the regular season…Saku holds the edge over his younger brother, having won two of the three games as a member of the Montreal Canadiens…Saku has recorded two assists in the three contests while Mikko has been held scoreless…Saku is the eighth Ducks player all-time to oppose his brother in a regular season game…the others include Tim vs. Bob Sweeney (BUF), Dmitri vs. Boris Mironov (EDM), Sean vs. Chris Pronger (STL), Ted vs. Chris Drury (COL), Paul vs. Steve Kariya (VAN), Rob vs. Scott Niedermayer (NJ), and Drew vs. Ryan Miller (BUF)…the last time a Ducks player faced his brother in a regular season game was on Dec. 5, 2007 when Drew Miller opposed older brother Ryan in a 4-1 Anaheim victory at Honda Center.
A highly-motivated San Jose Sharks team that had been eliminated from last season's playoffs by the Ducks and embarrassed by the Avalanche in their season opener beat the Ducks in Anaheim, 4-1, Saturday. The line of Perry, Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf
was minus-8. The Ducks went more than 20 minutes without a shot at one point. Minnesota, on the other hand, played fairly well in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in its first game for coach Todd Richards and GM Chuck Fletcher. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is returning from years playing wing to center the second line. He struggled Saturday.
The frustrating Marian Gaborik era is over. The Wild is learning a new system under Richards, one that emphasizes more speed and offensive attack, after years of Jacques Lemaire's tight defensive style. It will probably take a little time, but the Wild has a lot of young players who should welcome the opportunity to show the skills that got them to the NHL.
They have benefitted in recent seasons from the downturn of the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes, but those teams are expected to be much better this season. Points will come harder in the Pacific Division. The fans really turned on the Ducks, booing them hard from the first period on in the Sharks' game. The Ducks have to overcome the departures of traded Chris Pronger and free-agent Francois Beauchemin from the defense.
Backstrom had the third-best goals-against average last season, 2.33, and his .923 save percentage was fourth-best. He's probably the Wild's best player and they'll be counting on him as they make their transition to a more offensively oriented team. The Ducks are still looking to catch fire, but here's a chance to see Saku Koivu
centering for countryman and friend Teemu Selanne
. They have a history of working well together on Finnish national teams.
Ducks center Petteri Nokelainen is day-to-day with an abdominal injury. For the Wild, left winger Derek Boogaard is out indefinitely with a concussion and center/left winger Benoit Pouliot is sidelined indefinitely with a groin injury.
The Wild was the NHL's second-best defensive team a year ago, allowing only 2.4 goals per game, but were outscored in five-on-five play. That's why they have new coaching, to get more offense out a team they hope will remember its defensive skills. Anaheim was the ninth-best team in five-on-five play, fifth-best on the power play and 23rd in penalty killing. The Ducks must avoid penalties or get better killing them.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said "the mistakes we made from our standpoint were very easily correctable." So he's not pushing the panic button. The Wild's Cal Clutterbuck had only one hit, after leading the NHL with 356 last season, 4.6 hits per game.
-- John McGourty, NHL.com