The Ducks return to Honda Center after a four game roadie saw Anaheim pick up 3 of a possible 8 points. A four day Christmas break should have the Ducks rested and hungry for a win, right? Right?
Ducks: Tuesday, 12/22/15 vs New York Rangers. "BEST & WORST: ANA @ NYR: 4 Alarm Holiday Emergency"
Anaheim's east coast road trip that many saw as a chance for the Ducks to get "back on track" turned out to be fairly disappointing. A well-fought win in New Jersey was flanked by losses to Buffalo and the New York Islanders. Anaheim capped off the trip with a 3-2 overtime loss to a struggling Rangers team in which they all but handed New York the victory.
Now back at home, Anaheim will look to finish the 2015 calendar year with a couple win, starting with the Philadelphia Flyers. Anaheim won both meetings between the clubs last season (both in shootouts). Ryan Getzlaf had 3 points against the Flyers a year ago, but continues to have a 1 in the goal column this season. Hopefully a match up with the boys from "The City of Brotherly Love" can spark the captain out of his goal scoring drought.
While I have looked forward to watching this game the last few days, most of my thought has been spent on what Ducks management can do about this team. The NHL roster freeze is still in effect until 12:01 Monday morning and much has been made about what the GM Bob Murray might do once that time comes.
A great article by Orange County Register staff writer Eric Stephens detailed the frustrations with the Ducks so far this season. You can read his article here as well as a great piece by our editor that elaborates further on Stephens' article here. Stephens wrote extensively about a trade market that won't be easy to enter. Anaheim doesn't have many attractive pieces that they would be willing to move right now. Trading futures (ex. Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour) could sweeten a deal, but could hurt the Ducks depth in the long run. Anaheim seems stuck with the product it has for now, and it needs to produce, starting today with the Flyers.
A Philadelphia team that struggled out of the gate, earning only 19 points in its first 22 games, has caught fire of late. Most recently, the Flyers erased a 3-goal lead to win 4-3 against the St. Louis Blues on Monday. A goal by Evgeny Medvedev with 3 minutes to go put the Flyers on top in their last contest before the holiday break. The Flyers are 8-2-2 in their last 12 games and are being led by their big guns Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek as well as young defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
However, Philadelphia has struggled to find reliable scoring depth this season. Only seven Philadelphia forwards have eclipsed the ten point mark through 34 games. And while Voracek is second on the team in points, he only has 3 goals to his name so far this year. Also, veteran blue liner Mark Streit has been out for over a month after having surgery to repair a pubic plate detachment. With this game in Anaheim being the first of a 3-game trip through California, the Flyers depth and defense will be be well tested before heading back to Philly.
In the end, this game pits two teams going in completely different directions against each other. Anaheim is looking to halt their continued nosedive to the bottom of the NHL while Philadelphia looks to stay hot behind the work of their stars. It will take a 60-minute effort for the Ducks to halt a Flyers team who has hit its stride and is winning close games.
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.