By Michael Walters
After a brief trip to the desert, the Ducks(31-20-10) are home to face the Boston Bruins(30-23-6). The Ducks beat the Bruins 4-3 in Boston earlier this season.
The Ducks got off to a terrible start in the game against Arizona. Anaheim got done 3-0 in the first period and could not fully recover. Randy Carlyle pulled Jonathan Bernier after the first period and John Gibson shutout Arizona the rest of the game. Ryan Getzlaf scored twice, but it wasn’t enough as Anaheim lost 3-2. Sami Vatanen had a glorious scoring chance at the final buzzer but was denied by Marek Langhamer, who came in to relieve Mike Smith after exiting due to a collision he had earlier in the game. The Ducks look to rebound tonight against the Bruins. Rickard Rakell leads the team with 22 goals. Ryan Kesler is second in scoring with 19 goals. Jakob Silfverberg has 17 goals. Andrew Cogliano has 12. Anaheim is tied for second place in the Pacific Division with the Edmonton Oilers in terms of points.
The Ducks called up Nic Kerdiles today. He skated with Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell this morning at practice. It looks like he could finally make his NHL debut with Anaheim tonight. Kerdiles has been tearing it up San Diego registering nine points(4 G + 5A) in 10 games with the Gulls since coming back from his concussion. Maybe he can provide a much needed spark to the Ducks offense tonight.
Keys To The Game
The Ducks need to get off to a good start tonight. They can’t afford to get down by three goals like they did against Arizona in the opening period. Actually, the Ducks can’t afford to get down by multiple goals period. Anaheim has only scored more than two goals twice in their last nine games, going 3-5-1. If the offense doesn’t pick up, then the Ducks are going to have to rely on Gibson to play nearly perfect hockey. Gibson does have a current shutout streak of 101:58, but he can’t be perfect forever. Anaheim needs to get in front of the opposing net and try to bring the puck into the slot more often instead of relying on the perimeter game if they want two points tonight.
Anaheim’s Projected Lineup
John Gibson 23-15-8, GAA 2.24, SV% .922 (Probable)
The Bruins are on a roll right now having won four in a row. They beat Vancouver, Montreal, and San Jose twice. They have outscored their opponents 16 to 7 in that a span. Boston is currently in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak lead the team with 25 goals each. David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron follow them up with 14 goals each.
Keys To The Game
The Bruins have been winning with their new coach Bruce Cassidy. Boston works the puck in deep getting the cycle going. They have been able to score early and often putting up four or more goals in three of their last four contests. One of the keys to Boston’s game is their shots on goal per game. They average 34.3 shots on goal per game, which is the league best. They also only allow 26.5 shots against per game, which is second best in the league. They will look to pepper Gibson tonight.
Boston’s Projected Lineup (Bruin’s website)
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February 22nd, 2017