The Ducks' six-game road trip takes them to the Big Apple, where tonight they'll face the New York Rangers at the iconic Madison Square Garden. Reports from MSG suggest John Gibson getting the start tonight for Anaheim, which has gone winless in the first two games of the trip, though the Ducks did get a point in a 3-2 shootout loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said he's had just about enough of the "lazy" penalties his club has incurred over the last two games. They gave Florida five power-play opportunities and followed it up with seven the next night in Tampa Bay. Carlyle was terse in his assessment and says it can't happen again, especially not against a team with the caliber of offense the Rangers possess.
"If you're going to take penalties, you're not going to play," Carlyle said. "There are ways to take penalties, like defending a goal or a teammate's honor, or putting yourself in a position to prevent the opposition from a great scoring chance. But the hooking and holding penalties in the offensive zone are lazy penalties. We can't tolerate lazy penalties."
Defenseman Sami Vatanen will likely miss his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury suffered during the second period of Anaheim's 2-1 loss against the Panthers on Friday. Vatanen hasn't skated since, but yesterday Carlyle said he doesn't expect it to be a long-term setback.
Likely to replace Vatanen is rookie defenseman Brandon Montour, who capped off a whirlwind 24-hour span with his first career NHL goal against the Lightning. Montour scored the overtime winner in Ontario with the San Diego Gulls the night before and took an overnight flight to Detroit before reaching Tampa Bay in the morning. He's expected to skate alongside Cam Fowler tonight.
Montour's call-up was so sudden he didn't even have a toothbrush with him when he made it to Tampa. He showed up in the tracksuit he wore for the game in Ontario and said he had his roommate in San Diego ship his suit to New York City. He used Sunday (off day) to pick up casual clothing for the next few days and made sure to purchase a toothbrush and phone charger.
On the Rangers
Kevin Hayes returns to the Rangers lineup tonight after missing five games with a knee injury. The 24-year-old is likely to center the third line with the club's leading point-producer J.T. Miller on left wing and leading goal scorer Michael Grabner on right wing. Hayes had 12 points (2g/10a) in the 11 games leading up to his injury.
Defenseman Marc Staal is also expected to play after missing practice yesterday with the flu.
"One of the highest-scoring teams in the league," Carlyle said. "They rely on a balanced attack with some size. Their back-end is probably underrated, but we know [Ryan] McDonagh is a world-class player. We know about [Rick] Nash, [Derek] Stepan and [Mats] Zuccarello. Hayes has had an impact on their group."
The Rangers have won the last four games against the Ducks, dating to Jan. 7, 2015.
"We have to stick to our identity," said Ducks left wing Andrew Cogliano. "I know it's a cliché, but we can't get into the game they want to play. They're fast and they stretch zones. They're high-powered offensively. We have to be strong defensively and tight in our own end. We need to make sure we make them play in their zone with our cycle. They've definitely given us a lot of problems. It'll be a good challenge for us."
As we look ahead to tonight's game, it's worth noting the plethora of connections these two clubs share with one another.
Gibson and Miller were teammates with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program for two seasons (2009-11) and won a gold medal with the United States at the 2010 World U-17 Hockey Challenge and the 2011 IIHF World U-18 Championship.
Former Ducks forward Brandon Pirri is now a member of the Rangers after signing a one-year contract on August 25. Though Pirri is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight, the 25-year-old leads the club in faceoff win percentage (56.5%), ranks tied for the team lead in power-play goals (5), tied for second in game-winning goals (3), tied for third in power-play points (9) and tied for sixth in power-play assists (4). Last season, the Ducks acquired Pirri from Florida in exchange for a sixth-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft on Feb. 29, 2016.
Former Ducks defenseman Adam Clendening is with his sixth team since the 2014-15 season and has eight points (1g/7a) in 18 games with the Rangers this season. The 24-year-old was acquired by Anaheim from Pittsburgh along with David Perron for Carl Hagelin on Jan. 15, 2016.
Ducks right wing Jared Boll and Nash were teammates with the Columbus Blue Jackets for five seasons (2007-12), and were teammates with Ducks center Antoine Vermette for parts of four seasons (2008-12).
Current Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault coached Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa and center Ryan Kesler for seven seasons when they were members of the Vancouver Canucks (2006-13).
Potential Line Combinations