The Anaheim Ducks have earned a point in six straight games, a far cry from their awful opening month of October. However the last two games have left something to be desired, and now the New York Islanders come calling after having lost a close game last night in Los Angeles. Perhaps some Friday the 13th weirdness can undo the small string of overtime defeats.
Ducks: Wednesday, 11/11 vs Edmonton. "Ducks Drop Second Straight In OT, Lose 4-3 To Oilers"
Oilers: Thursday, 11/12 at Los Angeles. "Empty and Aching And Don't Know Why"
Looks like we may be in store for more Rickard Rakell on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. NHL.com quoted Bruce Boudreau saying he liked the way the unit looked, on the power play as well, and that Rakell adds an additional skill element that the line has lacked when focusing on being big and physical in times past. Ricky has put up a goal and assist when skating with Perry in 42:29 of even strength time this season. An interesting point (in a very limited 17:03 five-on-five sample size) is the shot attempt percentage when Rakell and Getzlaf has been together (51.4%) has been much lower than Getzlaf's 53.4% in 164:56 of even strength without him [WOWY via Stats.HockeyAnalysis].
Could it be Anton Khudobin to start tonight before Anaheim embarks on their four games in six nights road trip? The Ducks open that roadie with a back-to-back featuring Carolina then Nashville, so it may not be the case. Still, Frederik Andersen's last two starts are the first time he's posted sub-.900 save percentages in back to back games. Granted, they're also just the second and third times that's happened all season. The argument could be made for giving Andersen a break, although it would mean if Khudobin were to get the nod against his former team (instead of the one that shredded him 5-1 last road trip) he'd take back-to-back starts over four days.
Finally, your 'The Pacific Division is still not that great, but dropping points remains a bad idea' update: Vancouver lost at Ottawa, Calgary lost at Tampa, Edmonton lost at Arizona, and tonight's opponent lost in LA. The final guaranteed playoff spot remains just three points clear of the Ducks, with Vancouver sitting at 19 points having played 17 to Anaheim's 16 games played. This is also the first time in a while that a would-be wildcard spot is more obtainable, as Winnipeg sits two points clear with 18 points in 17 played.
After an opening month of October that saw New York pick up wins in a six of seven stretch, while earning an additional three points in overtime losses, the team has stumbled through November thanks to a sputtering offense. The Isles have put up two or fewer goals in seven of eight games dating back to October 29, and are averaging just 1.67 goals per game in the season's second month. The one offensive outburst of four goals in their 4-2 win at San Jose to start the brief three-game West Coast soiree was aided in great part by a pair of goals allowed from distance by Martin Jones, including a Johnny Boychuck blast from beyond the blue line.
The two big guns of John Tavares and Kyle Okposo have had hands in goals in the last three games, while Frans Nielsen sits third on the team as the only other player with 10 points scored. 50-point scorer from last season Ryan Strome has been sent down to Bridgeport since November 5 as he was mired in a five game point-less streak. Between the pipes Tomas Greiss has been the preferred backup, though was in the press box last night after winning the trip-opener in San Jose in favor of Jean-Francois Berube backing up Jaroslav Halak.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.