Patience has been a virtue for a Ducks team that has had eight players 23 years old or younger who have made appearances this season, many of them in the majority of the 22 games played so far. It's a group that includes Trevor Zegras (19), Isac Lundestrom (21), Max Comtois (22), Josh Mahura (22), Max Jones (23), Jacob Larsson (23), Sam Steel (23) and Troy Terry (23), and two of those made a significant impact two night's ago against the Blues at Honda Center.
Lundestrom had the first hat trick of his young career in the 5-4 defeat to the Blues, while the highly celebrated Zegras made waves with a goal he DIDN'T score. On a power play midway through the first period, Zegras (playing in just his fourth NHL game) attempted a move commonly known as 'The Michigan," picking the puck up lacrosse-style and attempting to stuff it in from just behind the net.
Video: STL@ANA: Zegras tries to score with 'The Michigan'
"If you're good enough to do it, have at it," Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of the play. "The one thing we don't ever want to take out of a player is creativity. If you can put the puck in the net that way, then put the puck in the net that way."
If not for a piece of the post and the blocker of goalie Ville Husso, he might have pulled it off and changed the complexion of that game, which the Ducks led 1-0 at the time. Instead, it was another defeat to the Blues, who have owned the Ducks so far this season in three games.
"I do give our guys credit," Eakins said. "They came out in the third and fought like hell, so that's encouraging. But for us to win, it's got to be a full 60 minutes. Every moment is critical."
Because of the unique schedule for this NHL season, this is the first time in history the Ducks and Blues will face off eight times. There isn't much history between the two teams as the Blues -- with the exception of the four-year-old Vegas Golden Knights -- are the only Western Conference team Anaheim has never faced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Ducks are still trying to figure them out, having been outscored 10-2 in back-to-back games at Honda Center at the end of January before Monday night's defeat. Anaheim will look for payback when the two teams go at it again tonight.
Again, the Ducks will look for significant contributions from the young guys like Comtois and Lundestrom, who rank first and second respectively on the team in goals, while Comtois paces Anaheim in scoring (14).
"They are moving in the right direction," Eakins said of the Ducks youngsters. "All those guys have taken steps forward, some bigger than others, so that's encouraging for the whole organization."
Zegras had made his presence felt despite not yet recording a point in his four games, and he seems poised to break out any minute.
"He just seems to get a little bit more comfortable every night," Eakins said. "We've got to bring him along at the right pace. You don't want to overload him too much. You want him to find his way and find some kind of comfort level.
"If he keeps playing like this, you'll see it (his ice time) slowly go up."