After a season-opening four-game roadie, the Ducks return to the friendly confines of Honda Center with a 3-1-0 record. Although six out of eight points away from home would be considered a job well done to most, Anaheim played far from perfect hockey, especially in the state of Pennsylvania, and they'll look to improve on their shortcomings in a more friendly venue against a respectable foe.
For the Ducks' offense, Ryan Suter is a guy to watch out for due to his expertise at killing opposing offensive opportunities. As Justin Bourne of theScore points out, if Suter gets a hold of the puck, there's a good chance it's leaving the zone. If the Ducks' powerful offense doesn't play smart, they'll get used to turning a 180 shortly after the puck crosses the blue line while Suter leads the charge in the opposite direction. He averaged almost 30 minutes of ice time per game last season, so he'll be standing guard in front of Darcy Kuemper for a good chunk of the night.
The Ducks announced yesterday that Patrick Maroon will be out of the lineup for four weeks with a sprained MCL, which is good news in that it could have been much worse. Possibly lost in some of the hysteria over John Gibson was the call up of Chris Wagner in Maroon's place. The line combinations from practice yesterday didn't shed any light on whether Boudreau would continue with Rickard Rakell on the wing or insert Wagner in his place.
What Can We Learn From this Game:
Was Minnesota's dismantling of the Avalanche due to their offense finally heating up and doing what the Wild faithful have expected them to do since the Zach Parise acquisition, or did Colorado's defense somehow get worse? It's most likely the latter, since Colorado surrendered 41 shots on average in their two losses to Minnesota, and gave up 40 more to Toronto. TORONTO! Regardless, the Anaheim defense has let up 30.5 shots a game already, which doesn't exactly qualify them as one of the most steadfast units in the National Hockey League, so this should be a good measuring stick for them to go against an offense whose confidence must be pretty high at the moment.
Furthermore, with John Gibson being sent to Norfolk for the weekend, it looks like Frederik Andersen is going to be Bruce Boudreau's go-to guy in net for the near future. Freddy hasn't given Ducks fans much of a reason not to trust him; 3-0-0, 1.95 GAA and a .928 save percentage sound like pretty good numbers to me, anyway. So, his play against Minnesota and Gibson's against the Manchester Monarchs may end up as a good indicator for whether the two will move forward in the coming weeks as a 1/2 or a 1A/1B duo. Barry Melrose is pretty high on the Danish tendy as well (and he's got a pretty good opinion of the team as a whole).
Fearless Prediction: With the memory of getting a ball of stick tape thrown at him in the locker room after a practice still fresh in his mind, former Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner drops the gloves with an old teammate. The game-winning goal for the Ducks is scored by the resident hot hand William Karlsson AKA "Wild Bill", giving sports columnists across Southern California and Minnesota a field day with all the wordplay possibilities they could use for headlines.
Stay tuned here for updates throughout the day (lineup news, etc.) and start commenting. We'll have a quick stats pack shortly before puck drop for the in-game comments to flow.
Chris Wagner is going to make his NHL debut tonight for Ducks. Said BB casually mentioned it to him early in practice Thursday.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) October 17, 2014