If the next few games have a few opponents that seem like the Anaheim Ducks literally just played them... it's because they did. Over the next week, the Ducks will conclude their respective season series with both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals less than two weeks after opening them.
Last time out the Ducks downed the Canes in a shootout 5-4 after yet another come-from-behind victory. Likewise, not unlike the theme as of late, the Ducks defense looked particularly shaky against a team whose offensive prowess has been particularly lackluster this season.
In fact, that 5-4 shootout win was one of five games in the past seven in which the Ducks surrendered three or more goals. Over that span which dates back to January 29th when the Ducks got blown out for about the billionth time this season by the San Jose Sharks. Their record since then: 2-4-1, 20 GF, 29 GA (not counting the shootout winner in Washington). I can think of literally zero circumstances where it's okay for an NHL caliber defense corps to surrender 29 goals in seven games.
Frederik Andersen remains out with an undisclosed "upper body" injury, and is officially on injured reserve. No timetable has been set for a return yet, so odds are he probably won't be back for this one... or for a while even.
That means the reigns of this game will be handed once again to the likes of either Ilya Bryzgalov or John Gibson. After showing some pretty good confidence in his last effort, despite getting burned for three goals, I wouldn't be surprised if the latter gets the start.
After missing the last game, it looks as though Hampus Lindholm will return in this one, though it isn't fully guaranteed yet, and there's a possibility Bruce Boudreau and Bob Murray may sit him one more game to make sure he's fully healthy. No point in rushing him back with points banked in the division.
As for the other major absence, Jakob Silfverberg will return as his bout with the flu has subsided.
As for the Hurricanes, young defensive gem Ryan Murphy remains on injured reserve for a leg injury suffered two nights after these two teams last met.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
The report from practice is that the Ducks spent a grueling session getting back to basics with a lot of skating and battling drills. Clearly Boudreau is trying to get through to his team to gets its act back together defensively, and it doesn't take a genius to notice that lately it's been off.
Last time out, the Hurricanes, who currently sit second-from-bottom of the Eastern Conference, darn near ran the Ducks out of their own building. Had the Ducks not pulled their act together late there likely could have been another ridiculous loss in recent history.
So the big question is did this practice finally get through to the Ducks to reset their defensive mentality?
Or perhaps better yet, have Murray/Gabby finally figured out that icing Eric Brewer is like purposely punching yourself in the groin?
The Ducks sit Sami Vatanen and continue to play Eric Brewer just to spite me.