|Much like the Blue Jackets, the Anaheim Ducks are in the midst of a disappointing season but are looking to pick up their play as 2012 gets started. And the similarities don’t stop there – each team has recently picked up a huge win to ring in the New Year. |
The Ducks earned a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on home ice Friday night, and Columbus picked up a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center yesterday afternoon. Anaheim’s record has not improved as much as it would like since coach Bruce Boudreau took over for Randy Carlyle on Nov. 30, but their top players are getting back into form.
Bobby Ryan was one of the Ducks’ best players in their win over the Islanders, and scored a highlight-reel goal while shorthanded to tie the game at 2-2 in the third period. Ryan Getzlaf’s late third-period goal broke that tie and the Ducks captain’s 19th of the year stood as the eventual game-winning marker. Boudreau inherited a team with a dynamic group of forwards but a blue line that has been besieged by injury this season. Anaheim recently got Lubomir Visnovsky back in the lineup and it should help their power play, as the veteran defenseman was the NHL’s top-scoring blue liner last season.
Though the Ducks have won just two of the last nine games, they are a high-powered opponent that likes to use its size and cycle game to generate offense. Anaheim’s top line with Ryan, Getzlaf and reigning league MVP Corey Perry can win a game on its own and the Blue Jackets will likely try to get former Duck Sammy Pahlsson on the ice whenever possible to shut them down.
After a summer of pondering his future, Teemu Selanne elected to join the Ducks for another season and he has arguably been their best player. He leads the Ducks in scoring and is still one of the best power-play performers in the NHL. In goal, Boudreau is likely to go back to Jonas Hiller, who played well in their most recent victory. Backup Dan Ellis is injured and not expected to be available for today’s game.
| || || |
|Nash (12) ||Perry, Ryan (15) |
|Prospal (20) ||Selanne (25) |
|Prospal (28) ||Selanne (37) |
|Dorsett (88) ||Perry (59) |
|MacKenzie (+8) ||Koivu (+6) |
|Sanford (6-7-3) |
|Hiller (10-17-6) |
|Sanford (2.46) ||Ellis (2.72) |
|Sanford (.917) ||Ellis (.911) || |
|• Columbus enters the third game of a four-game road trip after yesterday’s win at Los Angeles. The Blue Jackets are in the midst of playing eight of 10 and 10 of 14 on the road. Columbus has won two of its last three road games after going winless its previous three and 1-4-0 its previous five. |
• G Curtis Sanford stopped all 31 shots he faced yesterday at Los Angeles to earn his first shutout since Dec. 28, 2008 vs. Ottawa as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, a span of 20 games. He has 30-plus saves his last four starts, stopping 139-of-149 shots (.933 save pct.). The shutout was the first of the season for the Blue Jackets.
• Tonight marks second of four meetings overall and first of two at Honda Center this season between the Blue Jackets and Ducks. Columbus is 30-27-4 all-time vs. Anaheim, including 9-8-3 at Honda Center.
• Columbus plays in 16 back-to-back sets this season. The Jackets play one home/home sets, home/road sets five times, road/home sets on five occasions and five back-to-back road/road sets. Columbus is 76-76-22 all-time in the first game of back-to-backs and is 58-91-24 all-time in the second game.
• David Savard notched his first assist since Oct. 18 vs. Dallas with a helper Jan. 7 at Los Angeles. He was recalled from Springfield (AHL) on Dec. 31.