Anaheim’s marathon eight-game, 15-day road trip spanning two countries finally comes to an end tonight at the newly renovated Madison Square Garden.
It’s been a successful journey thus far for the Ducks, who have won four of their last five on the road (4-0-1), and will try for an 11th point out of as possible 12 in their past six games. Anaheim is 4-2-1 overall on the road trip.
“We’ve had a good trip so far,” said Ryan Getzlaf. “Now it’s about trying to make it a great trip and getting ready to go home."
The Ducks enter tonight’s game tied for second place in the Western Conference (with San Jose) with an 11-3-1 record (23 points) through 15 games. It’s even more impressive when you consider the Ducks have yet to dress their full lineup this season.
Although the injury bug lingers, the Ducks are getting back defenseman Luca Sbisa, who was recalled from Norfolk yesterday. Sbisa appeared in two games with the Admirals on a Long-Term Injury Conditioning Loan, earning two assists and a plus-1 rating. The 23-year-old injured his ankle in Anaheim’s preseason opener against Phoenix on September 16 at Honda Center.
"Playing games is much more fun than practicing and skating all the time," said Sbisa. "I can only win when I go down there. I think tonight I’m going to feel pretty good. Those two games down there really helped me getting back into playing shape."
Sbisa was paired with Bryan Allen in the morning skate, and will replace Sami Vatanen in tonight's lineup.
Vatanen suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday’s game, but took part in the morning skate at MSG. Although head coach Bruce Boudreau said Vatanen is healthy enough to play, expect Sbisa to play alongside Allen tonight.
Saku Koivu has been symptom-free for several days and has been skating in Anaheim. Koivu was injured on October 27 in Columbus and has missed the last three games, but Boudreau said he’ll practice tomorrow with the team and likely play Wednesday against Phoenix at Honda Center.
Rookie netminder Frederik Andersen is expected to start in net tonight against the Rangers. Andersen is undefeated so far, sporting a 3-0-0 record, with a 1.50 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. His last appearance was on October 27 in Columbus, a 4-3 Ducks victory. Andersen stopped 18-of-21 shots in the win (his third straight win to start his career).
Look for rookie Rickard Rakell to make his season debut tonight. Rakell was recalled on Sunday (along with Sbisa) from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. In 11 games with Norfolk, Rakell earned six points (2g/4a), and ranked tied for second on the club in goals and points at the time of his recall. The 20-year-old appeared in five preseason contests with Anaheim, earning one point (assist). Rakell was drafted by Anaheim in the first round (30th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Dustin Penner – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Emerson Etem – Mathieu Perreault – Devante Smith-Pelly
Patrick Maroon – Nick Bonino – Kyle Palmieri
Daniel Winnik – Rickard Rakell – Andrew Cogliano
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Bryan Allen – Luca Sbisa
The Ducks and Rangers most recently met at Madison Square Garden two years ago yesterday (Nov. 3, 2011), a 2-1 Rangers shootout win. Tonight marks the final contest of the season series between the two clubs as Anaheim’s 6-0 shutout over the Rangers on Oct. 10 were the most goals the club had scored in a home opener. The game also served as the largest margin of victory all-time in a home opener. Jonas Hiller recorded the 17th shutout of his career, while newcomer Jakob Silfverberg scored two goals and Allen and Vatanen recorded franchise-tying +5 ratings. Tonight marks Anaheim’s first Monday contest of the season. The club went 7-2-2 in Monday contests last season (.727 points percentage). Anaheim owns a 15-6-5 record vs. the Rangers and a 6-4-3 record at MSG.