Before we get to the pressing issues of the day, I just want to vent a little about this ridiculous road trip. Of course, I understand that scheduling 30 NHL teams in 30 NHL arenas around concerts and NBA games, Pro Bull Riding, and whatever the Hell else, is an exceedingly complex task, but there has to be a way to allow the Ducks to play the three New York are teams back to back to back. Traveling from New York to Columbus to Boston BACK to New York is just insane.
I'm sure that there is some Taylor Swift concert in Carolina two weeks from now or something that is causing a butterfly effect that I don't understand, but as far as I can tell, there is no reason, whatsoever for the Ducks not to be playing in New Jersey tonight, or tomorrow. The Devils played the Kings (who do get NJD/NYR/NYI consecutively, BTW) at home last night, play in Washington on Thursday and there are nothing but Devils games scheduled at The Rock until Stevie Wonder on April 14.
I will admit that the Islanders' schedule this week is a little tough to work around with four games including a back to back with the Ducks and Red Wings on Saturday and Sunday. I almost had an alternate schedule built, but the Raptors game tonight screwed it all up (damn you basketball!), but that's just me working off the top of my head. NHL schedule maker, Steve Hatze Petros must have some magic formulae in the NHL offices that can do better than me with 15 tabs open on my browser, right? Alas, the Ducks get the short end of the stick, travel-wise for a couple of days, luckily it so happens that these games have little if anything to do with their playoff situation.
So, that Rangers game on Sunday night was a disaster, eh? Over at his other gig on Puq Magazine, Kid Ish had some salient thoughts on the issues Bruce Boudreau had and how they led to that debacle. The one that stands out for me, and probably everyone reading this, even without hindsight is why on Earth Bruce would put Clayton Stoner back in the lineup. Scratching him in order to match up better against a fast/skilled team like Colorado on Friday made perfect sense and it worked, at least to some extent, with the Ducks winning the possession and the game. But then to put him back in, on the heels of a win, against a MUCH better, faster and more skilled team like the Rangers, on the road no less, makes less than zero sense.
The only possible explanation given, as relayed by the NBCSN broadcast, was that Bruce didn't want to sit anyone for too long. First of all two games isn't too long for anyone other than Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Second, two games certainly isn't too long for the worst player on the team, who is going to have some obvious matchup problems against the best team in the league, on the road! Third, if yesterday's practice line rushes, per Lance Pugmire of the LA Times are any indication, Simon Despres will be out a second game in a row tonight, is that too long for him?
Having said all that, it's not entirely surprising that the Ducks would go with Stoner, and that certainly wasn't the only reason that game ended up 7-2. As soon as Despres and James Wisniewski came over, I said it was a long shot for them to squeeze out Stoner. It's just frustrating that they did, but only for one game and the following one turned out as terribly as it did.
I would go into the goalie situation as well, but Eric covered that in thorough detail yesterday. The only thing I'll add is that Frederik Andersen truly hasn't been the same since coming back from injury and needs to be allowed play his way back into form while the games mean almost nothing to the Ducks' playoff positioning. I lied, one more thing: even though he needs to play more and he wasn't really to blame on any of the Rangers' goals (maybe the third a little), I can't blame Bruce for pulling him. That's the only thing a coach can do when their goalie gives up three goals on seven shots in 10 minutes to start a game.
Moving on, Columbus is coming off of a 3-2 overtime win against Calgary, that had just as much if not more to do with the Ducks' eventual playoff fate as anything that will happen tonight. Fittingly, it was Rene Bourque, continuing to do the Ducks no favors (aside from getting rid of Bryan Allen and bringing in Wiz), with his first two goals as a Blue Jacket, including the overtime game winner.
In other, former Duck news, Wild Bill has been called up from Springfield of the AHL just in time to, potentially, face his former team. On the injury front for Columbus, Alexander Wennberg, Ryan Murray and Brandon Dubinsky are all listed as day-to-day for Columbus while David Clarkson and Jack Skille are out for the season and Matt Calvert is indefinitely dealing with a concussion.
What can we learn from this game?
As with all of the remaining eight games this season, it's just an attempt (in vain) to figure out who is going to play, with whom they will play, and how they will play come playoff time.
Francois Beauchemin will be the only player to score against his former team tonight.