For a team that has only suffered 6 regulation losses all season, it’s a bit shocking to see 3 of those losses come in the last 3 games. Just a week ago the Anaheim Ducks pulled off the biggest win of the season when they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks at home, 4-2. Since then, the Ducks dropped 2 straight at home to the Detroit Red Wings, followed by another loss to the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks, who had set a franchise record with 13 straight home wins have now earned their first losing streak of the season.
Perhaps a change of scenery is just what the Anaheim Ducks need. 13 straight home wins followed by a 3 game losing streak, also at home? That’s a disappointment to say the least. Add to it that the losing streak started when Corey Perry returned to the lineup, (following a four game suspension), and you can’t help but question what has happened to the Ducks since defeating the Chicago Blackhawks. The Los Angeles Kings may have struggled with a Stanley Cup hangover, but the Ducks are now the team seeming to struggle with a type of winning hangover of their own.
Tonight is the night the Ducks hope to right the ship, as they enter San Jose with vengeance on their minds. What will be the last meeting between these two teams of the regular season looks to be an exciting game. In the five game series both teams have taken 2 games a piece, and tonight we’ll see who wins the series.
San Jose, despite starting their season 7-0, has since dropped in production in nearly every fathomable way. The hot start turned into a decline that has landed them in an 8th place tie in the western conference with the Nashville Predators. The Sharks know they’re going to have to up their game if they want to make the push into the playoffs.
San Jose may have come out with some added zeal on Monday as the team had traded defenseman Douglas Murray earlier in the day to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for two 2nd round draft picks. San Jose saw it as a wake up call, and they came out ready to defeat the Ducks.
San Jose continues to play without power forward Ryan Clowe and backup goaltender Thomas Greiss, although neither proved an issue on Monday, and they certainly hope neither will be a problem for them tonight.
Our beloved Ducks on the other hand continue to play without Nick Bonino, (lower body injury), whose absence is felt in the lineup as coach Bruce Boudreau has had to adjust lines in more abnormal ways than usual to fill his void. The Ducks, who already lack a true 2nd line center, are not in the best position to be without Bonino’s services at center ice. No indications have been made in regards to when Bonino will return to the lineup.
With Griess out it is believed that Antti Niemi will again get the start for the Sharks who need solid play in net to make a playoff push, and although not confirmed, it is believed that Jonas Hiller will be backstopping the Ducks.
A win tonight for the Ducks would put them 3 points behind Chicago in the Western Conference, securely keeping them at 2nd in the conference, and well atop the Pacific Division, (the Ducks lead the division by a 10 point margin without a win tonight). A win for San Jose would give them a 2-point edge over Nashville for 8th place in the west, (Nashville doesn’t play until tomorrow). The standings are tight but the Ducks still have a bit of breathing room, but the gap is closing if the Ducks aren’t careful.
Tonight’s game starts at 7 PM, PST, and can be seen on Fox Sports West.
Correction: San Jose Sharks coach Todd Mclellan has indicated that Ryan Clowe will be in tonight’s lineup.