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Posted On Sunday, 10.26.2014 / 2:49 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sharks at Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks were not expected to skate before their game Sunday at Honda Center.

This is the first of an intriguing five-game run against Stanley Cup Playoff teams from last season for Anaheim, which will go for its eighth straight win. The Ducks matched their franchise-best start at 7-1-0, and a win would equal the 2006-07 Cup-winning team for points (16) through the first nine games of the season.

It's the first matchup this season between the Northern and Southern California rivals.

Posted On Friday, 10.24.2014 / 3:06 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Ducks

ANAHEIM -- It would seem like a no-brainer for the Anaheim Ducks to keep riding the hot streak of goalie Frederik Andersen, who has won a career-high tying six straight starts. But the Ducks also have to be mindful of not letting goalie John Gibson sit for too long.

The Ducks appear to be addressing the latter because Gibson was first off the ice Friday before Anaheim played the Columbus Blue Jackets at Honda Center. Gibson has not played since a season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in his hometown on Oct. 9.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, speaking generally, said it's important to keep Gibson sharp.

"You don't want a 21-year-old kid just sitting on the bench all night and not feeling part of it," Boudreau said of Gibson. "Very few teams can go through and just say, 'Hey we've got one goalie. Let's ride the one goalie.' We need both guys playing. We know how good [Gibson] was for us when he played for us last year. He's had one subpar game. Other than that, he works hard in practice. He's had a couple of good games down in the minors to get ready for his next start. We have no fear of using him."

Posted On Thursday, 10.23.2014 / 4:03 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- If Los Angeles Kings right wing Jordan Nolan has an extra jump in his step or more snarl Thursday, it will be because his father, Ted, is watching closely.

Nolan will play against his father, coach of the Buffalo Sabres, for the first time in an NHL game when the Kings and Sabres play at Staples Center.

"He's an NHL coach and he's also my dad, but he knows a lot about the game so I'm always trying to impress him, I would say," Jordan Nolan said. "I'm always looking for advice, and whenever he's in the building I push a little harder because I want to make him proud and show him what I got.

"I always seem to work a little harder when he's in the building, so hopefully the night goes well."

Jordan Nolan attended the Buffalo-Anaheim Ducks game Wednesday and the two got in some family time this week. Ted Nolan became Buffalo's coach in March when the organization removed the interim tag he had worn since November 2013. It was a reunion after Ted Nolan coached Buffalo from 1995-97, guiding it to the Northeast Division title and winning the the Jack Adams Award in 1997.

"We never thought this would happen again," Jordan Nolan said. "We always hoped to get another chance. But to do it in Buffalo, it's pretty special for him and for our family to back in that organization. And for myself to be here, it's pretty remarkable."

Posted On Wednesday, 10.22.2014 / 3:54 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Ducks

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has had the continuity of using the same six defensemen for the first six games of the season, but he might put Mark Fistric into the lineup Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres at Honda Center.

Fistric took line rushes with defenseman Sami Vatanen in the third pairing and Vatanen's usual partner, Clayton Stoner, stayed out with the extras. It would be Fistric's first game this season.

"Him and [defenseman] Bryan [Allen] were both regulars on our team last year and I don't think you can win with just 20 guys," Boudreau said. "You have to have a 23-man roster. And at some point these guys have got to play. I've got all the confidence in the world in Mark; it's just that our defense has played pretty well recently.

"It's tough with eight defensemen, but you've got to get them acclimated in the games or they're not going to feel a part of it."

Posted On Sunday, 10.19.2014 / 5:39 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blues at Ducks

The St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks did not have morning skates prior to their 8 p.m. ET game Sunday at Honda Center.

The Blues will be without center Paul Stastny, who reportedly had his arm in a sling after he was injured early in the first period of a 6-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said that Stastny, who signed with the Blues as a free agent in the offseason, is day-to-day. Magnus Paajarvi will be inserted in the lineup in Stastny's place, though it's unclear how the lines will change.

Posted On Friday, 10.17.2014 / 4:14 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Wild at Ducks

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is never shy to try new looks, so it's not a surprise that he will have a new face in the lineup when Anaheim plays its home opener Friday against the Minnesota Wild.

Left wing Chris Wagner will make his NHL debut after he was recalled Wednesday. Boudreau told Wagner on Thursday he would be in; he will play on the fourth line in place of Rickard Rakell, who has had an inconsistent start. Boudreau likes to go with a hot hand, and Wagner recently was the American Hockey League Player of the Week.

"He might be up here for a game or two, let's see what he’s got," Boudreau said. "No sense sitting him out. [Wagner and Rakell] both will be playing in an off-position, but he's coming off player of the week in the American Hockey League. He's feeling pretty good about himself. He's pretty excited about being up in the NHL for the first time, so instead of sitting let's see what he can do."

Posted On Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 4:15 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blues at Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A kinder, gentler game between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues?

It seems unlikely for teams that combined for 479 hits in their 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinal series. But even Kings coach Darryl Sutter agreed with St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock's opinion that the Kings and Blues play different styles from then, which makes the first game between them Thursday at Staples Center more interesting.

"For sure," Sutter said. "Quite honest, I couldn't tell you much about [the 2013 series] other than what was said outside. We had a good series and both teams probably have a higher skill set than they did at that time. Both teams have moved toward, for sure, [being] more of a four-line team."

The Blues added center Paul Stastny and the Kings became more of an attacking team last season with the addition of left wing Marian Gaborik. Los Angeles also has more speed with Gaborik and the line of left wing Tanner Pearson, center Jeff Carter and right wing Tyler Toffoli.

So the days of the combined 100-hit games between the teams might be less common?

Posted On Tuesday, 10.14.2014 / 4:08 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Oilers at Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It's only four games into the season, but it appears that the Los Angeles Kings top line will undergo its third incarnation when it plays the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday at Staples Center.

Left wing Marian Gaborik did not skate and is dealing with the same muscle injury he had in the preseason. Center Mike Richards took Gaborik's place with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams on the top line. Andy Andreoff centered the fourth line and will make his NHL debut.

Coach Darryl Sutter only said that, "We'll see [Tuesday]. We'll decide [Tuesday night] what we're doing," and of Andreoff that "I hope he plays and I hope he plays well."

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said Gaborik is out of the lineup and there is no timetable for his return, according to the Orange County Register.

Posted On Sunday, 10.12.2014 / 3:58 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Jets at Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -– The Los Angeles Kings will likely be without defenseman Jake Muzzin for at least one more game. Muzzin took extra practice at the optional skate Sunday morning and said he hasn't been cleared yet from an undisclosed injury.

The Kings begin a six-game homestand against the Winnipeg Jets at Staples Center.

"I wouldn't think too much longer," Muzzin said. "I've got to talk to the doctor and see what he says. That's about it. If he's says 'Good to go,' I'm good to go. I feel ready, conditioning wise. I can continue to skate and bag [skate] when I can't play."

Muzzin's absence means that Brayden McNabb will continue to get thrown in the fire as the defensive partner with Drew Doughty. McNabb has seen the opponent's top forwards, a tough task for a young player.

Posted On Thursday, 10.02.2014 / 8:00 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - NHL Training Camps blog

Ducks' Fowler day-to-day with leg injury

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said defenseman Cam Fowler is day-to-day after Fowler left practice Thursday with an apparent leg injury.

Fowler had to be helped off the ice and did not put weight on his leg and appeared to be a lot of pain but Boudreau said it wasn't severe.

"He's actually not bad right now," Boudreau said. "You always get nervous when you sort of think you hurt something. You never know how much it is. Right now it's day-to-day. The trainer didn't say it was too bad. I'm expecting him, maybe not in the lineup Saturday [for Anaheim's preseason finale], but for sure [for the season opener Oct.9 at] Pittsburgh."

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