By Kyle Shohara
Two of the NHL’s hottest teams square off tonight as the Ducks battle the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The league-leading Ducks bring a 21-6-5 record (47 points) and a season-tying seven-game winning streak into tonight’s contest, while the Maple Leafs bring a season-best five-game winning streak to the table. The Leafs have also won eight of their past nine games at home and eight of 10 overall.
The Ducks are in the midst of a five-game Canadian road trip that started with victories on Friday at Edmonton and Saturday at Winnipeg. In fact, the Ducks are undefeated in the month of December (7-0-0) and have points in 11 of their past 13 games, dating back to a 4-3 shootout loss on Nov. 18 at Calgary.
In addition to leading the league in wins this month, the Ducks have also scored the most goals (26, excluding shootout goals) and rank tied for second in goal differential (+18). Leading the charge this month are Ryan Getzlaf, who leads in scoring (11 points) and assists (8); Sami Vatanen, who co-leads in goals (3); and Hampus Lindholm, who ranks tied for third in assists (6).
Lengthy win streaks are nothing new to the Ducks. Their current streak marks the fifth time since the start of the 2013-14 season that Anaheim has won at least seven in a row, with no other NHL team doing it more than twice (Pittsburgh and St. Louis both have two). There have been 14 total win streaks of seven games or more by NHL teams since the start of the 2013-14 season, five of which belonging to Anaheim.
Your expected goaltenders for tonight are Frederik Andersen and Jonathan Bernier. Tonight will mark Andersen’s 19th consecutive start, the most by an Anaheim netminder since Jonas Hiller started a club-record 32 straight from Jan. 12-March 18, 2012. Andersen (17-4-4) is riding a career-high seven-game winning streak, becoming the third goaltender in franchise history to record wins in seven straight team games in a single season. Bernier (12-6-3) enters tonight’s game with wins in seven of his past nine starts. In his career against Anaheim, Bernier – a former LA King – is 4-1-1 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Rene Bourque-Ryan Getzlaf-Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Cogliano-Rickard Rakell-Jakob Silfverberg
Patrick Maroon-Nate Thompson-Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler-Ben Lovejoy
Mark Fistric-Hampus Lindholm
Clayton Stoner-Sami Vatanen
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
Daniel Winnik-Peter Holland-Mike Santorelli
Joffrey Lupul-Nazem Kadri-David Clarkson
David Booth-Trevor Smith-Richard Panik
Dion Phaneuf-Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly-Stephane Robidas
Jake Gardiner-Korbinian Holzer
James ReimerDUCKS-MAPLE LEAFS CONNECTIONS
Familiar faces will be on the ice (and behind the bench) tonight when the Ducks and Maple Leafs play the first of two games against one another this season.
Former Ducks bench boss Randy Carlyle
was named the 28th head coach in Maple Leafs history on March 2, 2012, becoming the 16th individual to have both played for the Maple Leafs and then taken the reins as the team’s head coach. Carlyle coached the Ducks for seven seasons and led the team to its first Stanley Cup championship in 2007, Pacific Division championship (2007) and five playoff appearances (2005-09, 2011).Joffrey Lupul
was originally drafted by the Ducks in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2002 NHL Draft. Lupul played parts of four seasons in Anaheim before being traded to Toronto (along with Jake Gardiner and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2013 NHL Draft) for Francois Beauchemin on Feb. 9, 2011. Lupul collected 114 points (56g/58a) and 108 penalty minutes in 205 games with Anaheim.Jake Gardiner
was drafted by Anaheim in the first round (17th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft. Gardiner made his NHL debut with the Maple Leafs on Oct. 6, 2011 vs. Montreal.Peter Holland
was selected by Anaheim in the first round (15th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft and played parts of three seasons with the Ducks before being traded to Toronto (along with Brad Staubitz) for third-round and seventh-round draft picks in 2014, and defenseman Jesse Blacker. The conditional third-round selection became a second-round choice because certain conditions were met. Anaheim used that pick (38th overall) to select defenseman Marcus Pettersson of Sweden. The Ducks selected Ondrej Kase with their seventh-round pick (205th overall).Daniel Winnik
played the past two seasons in Anaheim before signing as a free agent with Toronto on July 28. Winnik, whom the Ducks signed as a free agent on July 20, 2012, earned 49 points (12g/37a) in 124 games with Anaheim.Stephane Robidas
was traded to the Ducks for a 2014 fourth-round draft pick on March 4, 2014, and went on to record five points (1g/4a) in 14 games with Anaheim. His lone Ducks goal served as the overtime winner in a game that featured the greatest comeback in franchise history. Down 4-0 to the Jets, the Ducks went on to score four unanswered goals in regulation, including the game-tying goal with 23 seconds remaining. Then off the initial faceoff to begin overtime, Robidas received a cross-ice pass in the high slot from Andrew Cogliano and snapped one by Ondrej Pavelec at the 16-second mark of OT.