By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks(11-12-5) finish their home stand against the Carolina Hurricanes(10-14-4). In an odd stretch of scheduling for Anaheim, this will be their only game this week. They also don’t play again until next Thursday Dec 17th. Tonight’s game starts at 7:00PM PST.
The Ducks are 3 points behind the Vancouver Canucks, who are in 2nd place. The Ducks are 2 points behind the San Jose Sharks, who are in 3rd place. Anaheim is currently tied with Arizona in terms of points at 27.
This will be the Ducks second and final meeting against Carolina. In the first contest, the Ducks won 4-1 in Carolina. This was the first game where the shutdown line of Carl Hagelin, Shawn Horcoff, and Andrew Cogliano first played together for an entire contest. Hagelin and Horcoff both scored goals in this game to help the Ducks earn the victory.
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Keys To The Game:
1. Defense: The Ducks’ team defense has improved greatly. The team has only given up three goals in the last four games, largerly in part to John Gibson‘s play. The team has also kept the shots on goal down by their opponents to 25 or less in the last four games.
2. Shutdown Line: The third line of Hagelin, Horcoff, and Cogliano have gone up against the best lines of their opponents and have been playing well, limiting the chances of some of the leagues top scorers.
1. Face offs: Carolina is the best team in face offs with a winning percentage of 54.5%. The Ducks are ranked fifth in the league at 51.7%. If Carolina can win more of the face offs, then they will have a better chance of winning tonight.
2. Defense: The Hurricanes are 28th in the league in goals scored against per game at 3.07. They need to keep the Ducks to two goals or less in this contest tonight.
Players To Watch:
1. Nate Thompson: Since his return he has provided two assists, one in each game. He also won 60% of his face off draws in the last game against Pittsburgh. Anaheim is glad to have him back and healthy again.
2. Chris Stewart: He had the game winning goal in the Ducks last game. He is Anaheim’s third leading forward in goals(5) scored behind Corey Perry(10) and Rickard Rakell(6). Stewart has two goals in his last five games.
1. Justin Faulk: He leads the team in goal scoring with 11. He has scored all his goals on the power play. He also leads the team in total points with 21.
2. Victor Rask: He is tied for second in goals scored with eight. He has five points in his last five games. He is second on the team in total points with 19.
Anaheim Ducks Projected Lineup:
Nick Ritchie was sent back to San Diego and Bruce Boudreau mentioned at practice that Patrick Maroon would be back in the lineup. It’s likely he plays on the fourth line and either Santorelli ges bumped up to the second line.
Jiri Sekac is almost ready to return, but has already been ruled out for tonight’s game. Simon Despres has been improving, but still is not ready to play either. Gibson is getting the start tonight as Boudreau continues to go with the hot hand.
Remember to check back here as I will provide an update after the morning skate.
Carolina Hurricanes Projected Lineup (Per):
Ducks: John Gibson 4-2-1 GAA 1.47 SV% .968% (Confirmed)
Hurricanes: Eddie Lack 1-6-1 GAA 3.50 SV% .863% (Probable)