The Ducks will finally get back to work after having three full days off following one of the worst losses imaginable. I’m of course referring to the Ducks’ defeat at the hands of a team that hadn’t yet won a game, the Toronto Maple Leafs. But the team has pushed that aside and will look to get back on the right track tonight at Honda Center against the Canucks.
It doesn’t seem like there will be any changes to personnel but Coach Randy Carlyle always keeps the media guessing until game time, so it would be useless to speculate. Ryan Carter did, however, participate in the full practice and should be available to play. Todd Marchant is still hurting from various injuries, but will likely be able to play as well. Goalie J.S. Giguere will be out again with a groin injury.
But speaking of Randy Carlyle, has anyone noticed the defensive tone he’s begun to take in regards to the media? He’s always been one to be vague or otherwise have fun with reporters by not answering questions directly, but now he’s started speaking on topics that don’t concern the team. Take, for example, his comments on Maple Leafs’ coach Ron Wilson the day after they played the Ducks. Carlyle was quoted as saying “I hear Ron Wilson complaining that there was an ill-advised five-on-three last night and I’m going, ‘C’mon.’ He’s just been a benefactor on four five on threes or four on threes in the game before. I didn’t see any complaints there. Those are the kinds of things where ….c’mon. We’re not going to complain about the officiating. We feel that we’ve reacted poorly in some situations. Yeah, we’re not happy with every call but that’s an excuse and we’re not about excuses.”
Tell me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that statement boil down to complaining about officiating? It seems to me that Carlyle is starting to feel the pressure now that there is some adversity. All he has to do is look towards Colorado and Pittsburgh where recent coaching changes have resulted in huge turnarounds for those teams. Carlyle is probably also hearing the calls of many that say his system is not suited for the players the Ducks have this season and if he doesn’t or can’t change that system soon, management will force a coaching change.
But on to the the Canucks. Vancouver is playing without some star players, including Pavol Demitra, Daniel Sedin, and Roberto Luongo, who are all injured. In addition, the Canucks just played a long game last night, eventually winning in a shootout against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. The Ducks will look to take advantage of a tired Canucks team that is missing all-stars at almost every position.
The game will not be televised by the Ducks but I will post a link to a free live feed of the game when it becomes available, so keep checking back. I will also post line combinations as soon as I find out what they are.
From Brian Hunter at NHL.com:
CANUCKS (7-6-0) at DUCKS (3-6-1)
Last 10: Vancouver 7-3-0; Anaheim 3-6-1
Season Series: First of four meetings this season. Vancouver and Anaheim each won twice last season, but the Canucks (2-0-2) gained six points to five for the Ducks (2-1-1). That included a Halloween 2008 thriller in which defenseman Mattias Ohlund beat Jonas Hiller in the 13th round of a shootout to finally clinch the victory.
Big Story: For the second straight season, Vancouver is facing life without franchise goaltender Roberto Luongo, although the prognosis this time isn’t nearly as dire as the groin injury that forced him to miss 24 games in 2008-09. A fractured rib suffered last weekend figures to keep Luongo out for around a week, but Andrew Raycroft filled in with 30 saves and a 2-1 shootout win over Los Angeles on Thursday.
Canucks: It definitely wasn’t a high-octane offense that earned two points for Vancouver — just 12 shots through regulation — but Mikael Samuelsson’s goal in the first period led to a 1-1 tie through 65 minutes. Ryan Kesler and the Kings’ Jack Johnson traded goals early in the penalty-shot tiebreaker before Samuelsson struck again to pick up the coveted second point.
“The more I play, the better you feel out there, the more comfortable you feel and even as the game went on tonight you feel better,” Raycroft said. “Tomorrow I’ll feel a little better going into and hopefully we’ll have the same outcome.
“We did a pretty good on their shots, they were throwing a lot on net but we didn’t give up any odd man rushes.”
Ducks: If this isn’t rock bottom, it’s got to be awfully close. Anaheim has lost four in a row — all on home ice — and the most recent one came Monday to a previously winless Toronto squad. Since then the Ducks have had three days off to mull things over, so they can’t wait to get back on the ice and try to salvage what’s left of a six-game homestand that began promisingly with a win over Minnesota.
“Definitely in our situation, it would be easier if we played more games,” Hiller said. “On the other hand, we’ll take the rest and those days. It’s going to be better next week. We have back-to-back games coming up and not much break in between games. We are looking forward to that and hopefully that will help us.”
Who’s Hot: Christian Ehrhoff has been a great addition for the Canucks, as the defenseman has 10 points in his first 13 games, and more recently has complied a goal, four points and a plus-4 rating in his last four games.
While things haven’t been going well at the Honda Center for the Ducks, home ice has certainly agreed with forward Ryan Getzlaf, who has one goal and five points in his past three games.
Injury Report: In addition to Luongo, forwards Daniel Sedin (foot), Pavol Demitra (shoulder) and Ryan Johnson (concussion) remain sidelined for Vancouver, which did get defenseman Sami Salo and forward Rick Rypien back against Los Angeles.
Anaheim expects to have forward Ryan Carter back from a foot injury on Friday, but goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere is still nursing a groin injury he re-aggravated last weekend in a game against Columbus.
Stat Pack: Raycroft is doing all he can to inspire confidence in the goaltending while Luongo is on the shelf. In three appearances this season (one start, two relief), he has a 1.03 goals-against average and has stopped 48 of 50 shots for a .958 save percentage.
Puck Drop: It’s pretty clear which team needs this game more. A quick start could be key for the Ducks, but it’ll be interesting to see how they respond should the Canucks get the first goal — will the team rally back, or will frustration begin to set in?