The Ducks will play their seventh and final preseason game later tonight against the San Jose Sharks, and you can expect a lineup that will be close to the one we see next Thursday in their regular season opener against the Dallas Stars.
If line rushes during practice yesterday were any indication, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will skate on different lines - at least at the start - and Nick Sorensen will once again get an extended look with Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano. As the last dress rehearsal before the regular season opener in Dallas, tonight's game is the final showcase for rookies such as Sorensen to prove they're worthy of the promotion.
Although a win is always nice, more importantly is how the team plays. And for Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, that means proper execution and a commitment to the system.
"I just want to see us play a solid game," said Carlyle. "I want us to play the type of game that's going to be required to have success. It's the last opportunity for some of the younger players to show us what they got. We're expecting competition for positions."
John Gibson figures to get the start in net after Jonathan Bernier went the distance in rather fine fashion on Wednesday night against the Sharks at SAP Center. Several highlight-worthy saves were among his 22 in total that night, which is a great sign for the Ducks, who could rely on the 28-year-old to provide upwards of 20-25 starts. Up to this point, Bernier has outperformed Gibson in the preseason. We'll see how Gibson does tonight, assuming he gets the call.
Tonight's game, for all intents and purposes, should look - and feel - like a regular season contest between two rivals who have had their battles over the years.
"You want to play that last preseason game basically like how you'll want to play in the season opener," said Cogliano. "I've had the mindset of getting my game where it needs to be in terms of playing the right way, playing the system the right way, and having your legs feel good. As the preseason has gone on, my game has gotten sharper."
The Sharks will likely dress a lineup that features World Cup of Hockey participants Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic - all of which have only played in one preseason game. Mikkel Boedker, who played for Team Europe, has appeared in two games.
Yesterday, the Sharks recalled defenseman Dan Kelly and center Ryan Carpenter from their AHL affiliate. Carpenter has a goal and an assist in three preseason games, and goes by @CarpyDeuces on Twitter. Rock on.
As a reminder, tonight's game will be televised locally on Prime Ticket, streamed on Fox Sports GO and heard on AM 830.
LINE COMBINATIONS USED ON OCTOBER 8