By Kyle Shohara
Before the Ducks begin their week of preparation leading up to next Saturday’s regular season opener in San Jose, they have one last order of business. Tonight, they’ll close out the preseason against the Sharks at Honda Center, with a lineup that could be close to what you’ll see next week. Tonight’s game has an earlier 6 p.m. PDT start time, and can be heard on AnaheimDucks.com.
It could be two very different lineups tonight, as Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed his roster will have a veteran presence, whereas San Jose’s might closely resemble their AHL farm club, the Barracudas. The Sharks dressed a veteran-heavy lineup last night in their 3-0 victory at Arizona. In fact, rookie Joonas Donskoi was the only player in their lineup yet to appear in an NHL game.
Ducks defenseman Simon Despres took part in the morning skate, but will not play tonight, as confirmed by Boudreau. The 24-year-old has two assists in three preseason games.
“He’s fine, but he hadn’t practiced in three days, so there’s no sense in him playing tonight,” said Boudreau. Josh Manson will likely take his spot in the lineup for the second consecutive game alongside Cam Fowler.
It appears Frederik Andersen will get the start tonight, with Anton Khudobin as his backup. Andersen has only appeared in one preseason game thus far, with Khudobin playing in three (two starts, one in relief) and John Gibson in two games. Gibson (illness) was on the ice this morning.
After weeks of training camp and a round of preseason play, Boudreau says the excitement level of the team is rising for various reasons.
“They’re glad it’s the final preseason game,” Boudreau said with a laugh. “In any sport, [the players] start to get antsy for the regular season. We are [excited], as well as other teams. We’ll see how it works out.”
“You can tell the guys are getting ready for the season. They’re anxious to get out there,” said defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who is expected to play alongside Kevin Bieksa tonight. “It’s good the preseason games are intense. You have to work for every inch out there. We’ll have some fun tonight.”