When the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim took to the ice for the 1993-94 season, few if any could've expected that in a matter of just 13 years later they would become the first Californian team to claim the Stanley Cup. If those people exist, one would be hard pressed to find anyone amongst them who'd suspect that the Ducks would do so against an Ottawa Senators franchise that was freshly reborn the season prior. Such is the beauty of sport though as the two franchises are forever historically entangled by that 2007 Stanley Cup Final, though in the years since their paths have diverged significantly. The Ducks are 6-0-1 against the Senators since then, taking the the last four, and tonight face a club in disarray having recently fired their former 2013 Jack Adams-winning coach and sitting just four points above the Atlantic Division basement-dwelling Buffalo Sabres.
Though 'Matty Nice' Matt Beleskey deservedly took the headlines scoring his team leading 15th and game winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens yesterday, Ryan Getzlaf has been on a tremendous run of form that's seen him produce four goals and 12 assists over the last ten games. The Ducks have gone 8-2-0 over that stretch, including a 5-1-0 mark without Corey Perry where Getzlaf has picked up nine of the 16 points. His success has come despite his even strength linemates Rene Bourque (1G 2A) and Devante Smith-Pelly (2A), who have played more checking rather than producing roles. This may also be the game that Frederik Andersen finally gets some rest, having equalled the league season-high streak of 20 consecutive starts by New Jersey's Corey Schneider. Over the stretch Andersen has gone 11-4-4 with a .905 SV% and 2.65 GAA, and surely has earned a night off with veteran Ilya Bryzgalov having spent the past working his way back in to game shape with the Ducks. Also of note from last night Hampus Lindholm left the game during the third period and did not return due to an injury, word has yet to be released on his availability for today's game. This will be the third time that Jakob Silfverberg faces the club that drafted him in the second round in 2009; he was on the ice for a goal for, took a minor penalty as well as six shots over 29:01 of ice time in the two games last season.
Ottawa's sputtering start cost coach Paul MacLean his job 11 days ago, closing the book on four years which saw the Senators make the playoffs twice, but ended acrimoniously with him calling out players and management in the media. Since Dave Cameron took over the reins the team has gone 2-1-1 with wins over Boston and New Jersey. The Sens feature seven players with seven or more goals, lead by Clarke MacArthur's nine, and Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson leading the way with 21 points apiece. Bobby Ryan sits third with 19 points (7G 12A), having put together a five game point streak from November 13-24, picking up a point in 16 of his 28 appearances. Karlsson and Chris Phillips are the top two defenders in terms of ice time, and the club has been without rumored former Ducks interest Marc Methot for all but two games this year. 20-year old Cody Ceci has seen the third most time on ice, and second most amongst defensemen behind Karlsson (who has been on ice for a whopping 147:36 of the Sens 186:13 total) on the power play. Goalies Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner have split starts just over 60/40 this year, with Anderson putting up the better numbers on a .929 SV% and three shutouts. Ottawa hasn't made things easier for the duo by allowing the third most average shots against in the league at 34.3 per game while sitting 24th at only 28.8 shots per game.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
The Ducks are playing their sixth back-to-back of the season, having gone 3-2-0 thus far in the second end and winning their most recent in Winnipeg earlier on the road trip. Anaheim has one more this month, and five remaining this season. Though Bruce Boudreau joked about not giving Andersen time off since he doesn't get any, Bryzgalov should get the nod and will begin to give an idea of what he'll bring to the back up role as he continues to work his way back in to game shape (it really can't be worse than Martin Brodeur); it'll certainly be a more fair barometer than his brief relief appearance in Toronto. This is also another game where the Ducks will more than likely control the shot attempts battle, it'd be the third consecutive game of doing so, and can be used to further build good habits about controlling play in all circumstances.
Run the point streak to five games for Getzlaf, while Ryan finds his way into the scorebook for the Senators as he's been held without a point in consecutive games only twice this season. Bryzgalov gets interviewed at some point during the broadcast if he makes the start, and while it won't be as memorable as his yarns about the universe, bears, or thermoses, Ducks fans will be filled with happiness just the same.