Tonight's roster should bear closer resemblance to the lineup that'll take the ice next week in the season opener at Dallas. Among the regulars expected to dress in tonight's preseason game in San Jose are captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, both of which have yet to play since coming back from the World Cup of Hockey tournament. The tandem flew up separately to San Jose earlier this morning along with a handful of other players expected to play.
"We'll have a different team in San Jose," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "There are some things you can't control. We're not going to force guys who were in the World Cup to come and play. We've rested some of our veterans."
The rest of the team flew in this morning from Edmonton, where last night the Ducks' younglings dropped a 2-1 final against the Oilers at Rogers Place. Nick Sorensen scored the lone goal - his second tally of the preseason - and John Gibson went the distance, stopping 35 shots. Anaheim's lineup was still heavy on prospects, including defenseman Jacob Larsson. The promising 19-year-old blueliner has appeared in four of the five preseason contests up to this point, and last night skated in a game-high 23:53 TOI. He's been poised, confident and quick with his decision making, and has arguably outperformed his peers throughout training camp. Despite the logjam on defense, one has to wonder if Larsson forces his way onto the roster. He's going to be a good one.
"We're putting some young players in some really difficult situations," Carlyle said last night. "Some are going forward, some are plateauing, and some of them are regressing. That's just the way it is with young players."
Barring any last-minute changes, you can expect Jonathan Bernier to get the start in net tonight. Bernier looked good in his last appearance, a 23-save effort in a 1-0 loss against the LA Kings at Honda Center on Sunday. Last week, Carlyle said the plan was to roll with Bernier and Gibson for the remainder of the preseason as a tune-up for the regular season.
There's no doubt that goals are at a premium for the Ducks. They've managed only five goals in five games, but again, it's the preseason, and the Ducks have gone youth-heavy in every game up to this point. Save for their 6-1 blowout loss in LA last Wednesday, the four other games have been decided by a goal, and one was in overtime. It could be worse.
Tonight marks the sixth of seven preseason games for the Ducks, but only the fourth game for the Sharks. They're 3-0 though, with each game being decided in overtime by identical 3-2 scores. Eerie. Rookie right wing Kevin Labanc has four points (2g/2a) in three games, and both of his goals have come in overtime. Long Beach's own Matt Nieto has three points (2g/1a) through two games.
Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Mikkel Boedker have yet to play in the preseason, but maybe that changes tonight. San Jose's preseason continues on Friday in Arizona and concludes on Sunday at Honda Center.
Tonight's game won't be televised, but Steve Carroll and Dan Wood will have the call on AM 830 and AnaheimDucks.com.