The third meeting of the season for the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild on NBCSN's 'Wednesday Night Rivalry' reignites the embers of the 2003 Western Conference Final, as the Ducks look to close out a season high eight-game home stand (on which they're currently 4-3-0) with a win. Anaheim beat Minnesota for their first win of the season back in October, and will look to take advantage of a recent run of poor form by their guests.
Ducks: Sunday, January 17 vs Los Angeles (2-3 L) "Ducks Third Period Rally Falls Short, Kings Win 3-2"
Wild: Saturday, January 16 at Nashville (0-3 L) "Wild Shut Out For Second Consecutive Game In 3-0 Loss To Predators"
Not only did David Perron become the first player to wear #57 in Anaheim history, he scored in his debut and allows head coach Bruce Boudreau to completely restructure the lineup if he so chooses. After beginning the game skating with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg on the second line, Boudreau shook the proverbial Etch-A-Sketch and completely reconfigured the top three lines for the third. Andrew Cogliano (who nearly had his fifth goal as a Duck against Los Angeles, but had it called off) moved to Kesler and Silfverberg's line, while Patrick Maroon moved up to join Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, with Perron skating with Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Stewart, and the fourth line consisting of Shawn Horcoff and Mike Santorelli on the wings for Nate Thompson. It's an interesting configuration that seems to better disperse the danger throughout the lineup- something to keep an eye out for tonight.
Despite the 'laugh about it so you don't cry' biology lesson stat that the Royal Half's Mike Commito came up with regarding Getzlaf's goal scoring at even strength, the captain has moved into a tie for the team lead in scoring with Perry thanks to helpers in his last five games. There's still the matter of a career-low 3.6 shooting percentage, and outside of his previous low of 6.0% back in 11-12, his next lowest season saw him score on 11.0% of his shots. Perhaps putting him out there with the rough and tumble Stewart and deliciously dangle-riffic Perron will perk his goal scoring up.
Though comfortably entrenched in the first wild card slot, Minnesota has slid back of the top three teams in the Central Division with a recent four-game losing streak. While they've played the fewest games (45) in the division, St. Louis is still a point clear of them in third despite having four more games played. Part of the reason for the struggles has been a sputtering offense since the turn of 2016- of the nine games the Wild have played, they've scored two goals or less in seven, including being shut out in their last two outings. Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek have been doing their parts, with goals in two of the four games each before the most recent scoring outage.
The Wild have five players with ten or more goals, but Parise's team high of 16 speaks to the spread out nature of where their offense has been coming, with nine players having ten or more assists. Defenseman Ryan Suter, in addition to being the second most worked player in the league with an average 28:24 TOI, is second on the team with 30 points on six goals and a team-best 24 helpers. Devan Dubnyk has been solid in net as well, taking the lions share of the starts and posting a .921 save percentage.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.