Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Time: 5:00 PM Pacific
Location: Xcel Energy Center
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Hockey Wilderness
The Anaheim Ducks conclude their brief two game road trip in St. Paul, Minnesota tonight playing against the Wild for the second time this season.
Entering this season, most people had the Wild pegged for one of the basement positions in the league and contending for a lottery pick. While this team is not a juggernaut by any means, head coach Bruce Boudreau has gotten the most out of a suspect roster and has had the team playing well over the last month. They recently had an 11-game point streak broken by the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
That point streak was due to crack at any moment looking at the shot metrics for the Wild over the past 10 games, with a drop off in shot attempt share over the last two or three games. They have primarily been held up by great goaltending, with Alex Stalock and rookie Kaapo Kahkonen providing the backstopping services while usual number one Devan Dubnyk deals with a family health issue.
The Wild will be without two of their best players in center Mikko Koivu and defenseman Jared Spurgeon, helping to explain their drop off in play recently. Even with Koivu injured, the Wild are expected to hold a ceremony tonight to honor his 1,000th career NHL game.
The Ducks, meanwhile, are coming off yet another loss in which they were the better team at 5v5, but defensive lapses and special teams handed the game to the Winnipeg Jets. These types of performances are exactly what the team needs, even if they’re not winning, after Ryan Getzlaf’s potent comments calling out himself and the team on being competitive night in and night out.
The top line of Devin Shore, Ryan Getzlaf, and Troy Terry has been the best play driving line for the Ducks as of late. Look for them to continue to generate scoring chances against a Wild team with two of their top defensive players out of the lineup in Koivu and Spurgeon.
John Gibson will likely get the start in net after playing relatively well in his first game back from sickness in Winnipeg.
Also, there is a chance that Josh Manson could make his return to the lineup tonight. Bob Murray and Dallas Eakins confirmed that Manson would be on the road trip and could possibly be in the lineup against the Wild pending medical approval.
Per GMBM, #NHLDucks left wing Nick Ritchie has a sprained left MCL and will be out six to 10 weeks. It's a similar injury to the one Josh Manson suffered. Manson won't play today vs. WPG, but might be fit Tuesday at MIN.— Elliott Teaford (@ElliottTeaford) December 8, 2019
Keys To The Game
Make the goalie work: It remains to be seen if either Stalock or Kahkonen will be in net tonight, but both have performed well lately. Tonight has a chance to be a “beat a hot goalie” night. The Wild are giving up plenty of shot attempts, so the Ducks will need to make them work in order to find a crack.
Keep pushing: Anaheim isn’t a contender with only there wins in their last 15 games, but the process has been there recently. They’ve hung in with some good teams and have looked leaps and bounds better on the power play with a completely overhauled structure and puck movement scheme. At least games are kind of fun again.