Fresh off only the third win of the season when trailing after the second period, the Anaheim Ducks welcome the team they've faced in the playoffs more than any other as the Detroit Red Wings come to town. The Ducks have picked up 11 of their last 14 possible points, while Detroit is on a three-game winning streak (all on the road) heading in to their only trip to Honda Center of the season.
Ducks: Friday, January 8 vs St. Louis (4-3 SOW) "Comeback Ducks Re-Emerge, Sink St. Louis 4-3 In Shootout"
Red Wings: Thursday, January 7 at San Jose (2-1 W) "Red Wings Tame Sharks In San Jose 2-1"
After being such a staple of the the team under Bruce Boudreau through his first three full seasons behind the bench, the Ducks had largely lost that comeback magic this season. From the 12-13 to 14-15 season Anaheim had the best record in the league when trailing after two periods, going 23-50-3 for a .307 winning percentage. This season the Ducks are 3-14-1 (.167) when behind through 40 minutes, which while good for 10th in the league is nearly half of the prior success. Of course those numbers were likely to come down, and with a league-bottom 6.2 shooting percentage it's no wonder. Though perhaps even more of a bellwether is performance after one period; Anaheim is 1-9-0 when losing at the first intermission.
While the Ducks have gone 5-1-1 in the seven games since Christmas, before the game against the Blues Anaheim had gotten just former Michigan State Spartan Shawn Horcoff's goal against Calgary as even strength scoring from outside the first line. With the power play cooling since Wednesday against Toronto, getting scoring from someone other than Corey Perry or Rickard Rakell at even strength would do wonders for the team. Up stepped Ryan Kesler, with the first goal of the St. Louis game in addition to knotting it in the third with a power play goal. Make it four goals in four games in calendar year 2016 for the second line center, who had been held off the scoresheet the final five games of 2015 before his recent outburst.
Detroit comes in on a mini-roll of their own, and a large part of that has been the play of goalie Petr Mrazek, who will make his fifth straight start. After losing on New Years Eve to Pittsburgh following replacing Jimmy Howard in the prior game against Winnipeg, Mrazek has won has backstopped Detroit to wins in Buffalo, New Jersey, and San Jose. Having completed the front half of the current six game roadie with a 22-save blanking of the Devils and 35 stops to stave off the Sharks, Mrazek's save percentage for the trip sits at .957 in the three games. He's been the better of the two keepers all season with a .928 SV% vs Howard's .910, and has seen the majority of the starts as such.
This will be the first time the Ducks have to deal with rookie phenom Dylan Larkin, who is leading the team in goals, game winning scores, plus/minus, and sits second in points. The former Michigan Wolverine has simply not allowed Detroit to return him to Grand Rapids, and has put up points in his last four games including netting the winner in New Jersey. He'll join fellow rookie John Gibson in Nashville, representing Atlantic Division as Detroit's lone All Star. The Red Wings have four players with more than ten goals, as Justin Abdelkader has 13, while Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar each have 12; the seemingly timeless captain Henrik Zetterberg once against leads the team in points.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.