No team has been busier in the first month of the season than the Anaheim Ducks. That heavy workload has been reflected in their play.
The Ducks looks to make it 11 straight home wins over the Pacific Division rival Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night when the teams meet for the first time this season.
After starting the season with two games in England on Sept. 29-30, the Ducks have had a very busy October, playing a league-high 11 games to this point.
Anaheim (4-6-1) continues to be a very good home team but has yet to win on the road. A 4-2 loss Tuesday at St. Louis dropped the defending champions to 0-5-1 away from Jobing.com Arena.
The Ducks looked like a fatigued team Tuesday, getting outshot 33-16 while going scoreless on five power-play opportunities.
"It was a hard-fought battle," coach Randy Carlyle said. "This is the type of game we've been involved with for a while here. I thought our guys reached back and gave us everything they had. I've got to be proud of their effort."
Already missing defenseman Mathieu Schneider (ankle) and right wing Todd Bertuzzi (concussion), the Ducks could be without top center Ryan Getzlaf and forward Rob Niedermayer on Thursday.
Getzlaf - the team leader with 10 points - departed in the second period Tuesday with an upper-body injury while Niedermayer was scratched after leaving the morning skate early because of a groin injury.
Also contributing to Anaheim's mediocre play is the health of No. 1 goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who is 1-3-0 with a 2.60 goals-against average. Giguere missed the first two weeks of the season while recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery and only now appears to be rounding into form.
A home matchup against Phoenix (2-5-0) could be coming at the perfect time for Giguere and the Ducks, who have dominated the series of late. Anaheim is 24-8-2 with three ties against the Coyotes since the start of the 2000-01 season, and has won 10 in a row at home versus Phoenix since a 2-0 loss on Oct. 12, 2003.
Giguere is 9-1-1 with one tie and a 2.13 GAA in his last 12 starts against the Coyotes.
Phoenix has been one of the league's worst teams, dropping five of six since opening the season with a victory over the Blues. The Coyotes lost their fourth straight Saturday, 5-2 to Detroit to complete an 0-3 homestand.
Steven Reinprecht and Derek Morris had goals for Phoenix, the lowest-scoring team in the Western Conference.
"They outskated us on the ice, their top guys played at will and we seemed to be overwhelmed," coach Wayne Gretzky said.
With one of the league's youngest teams, the Coyotes figured to struggle offensively this season. Captain Shane Doan was one player the club figured to get production from, but the veteran forward has no goals in seven games after leading Phoenix with 27 in 2006-07. His longest stretch without a goal last season was nine games from Dec. 4-21.
|Apr 06 '08||PHX 2 at ANA 3 - SO||R. Getzlaf|
|Mar 22 '08||ANA 2 at PHX 1||T. Selanne|
|Mar 11 '08||ANA 2 at PHX 3 - SO||R. Vrbata|
|Jan 05 '08||ANA 2 at PHX 3 - SO||P. Mueller|
|Nov 23 '07||PHX 4 at ANA 3 - SO||S. Doan|
|Nov 07 '07||PHX 6 at ANA 5 - OT||S. Doan|
|Nov 03 '07||ANA 5 at PHX 2||B. May|
|Oct 25 '07||PHX 1 at ANA 0||C. Weller|