It’s been a while since the Ducks played a game on home ice (16 days to be exact), but they’ll look to carry the momentum generated from a successful eight-game road trip into tonight’s contest against the Phoenix Coyotes at Honda Center.
The homestand will be all of three games before the team hits the road for four in a row, but the Ducks know the importance of taking care of home ice.
“We’re not home for too long, but we’ve made this place a hard place to play,” said Kyle Palmieri. “We played against these guys the last time they came to our barn, and it was a tough game [3-2 Ducks shootout victory]. We know it’ll be a battle tonight.”
Anaheim is 5-0-0 at Honda Center this season, marking the most consecutive home wins to start a season in franchise history. In fact, the Ducks have outscored the opposition 21-8 (excluding one shootout goal) at home, resulting in the team's longest home win streak since a 13-gamer from Jan. 26-Mar. 20, 2013.
The Ducks enter tonight's game as the league's only remaining undefeated team at home this season, and the players are looking forward to hearing their fans tonight.
“It’ll be nice,” Palmieri said. “Getting back into your home routine is nice to do. It’ll definitely be good to get out there in front of our fans tonight.”
Emerson Etem said he hopes the team brings its “road style” game into this homestand.
“Playing a simple game, not taking too many penalties,” he said. “But if we’re taking penalties, they’re hard and they’re on the forecheck. We’ll have even more success once we get the power play going. Everything is going to fall into place.”
Tonight will mark the return of Teemu Selanne, who missed the last three games due to a mouth injury suffered on October 29 in Philadelphia. Selanne, 43, said he was lucky because the four teeth that were knocked out were fake ones.
“It looks like Teemu is ready to play,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “The old guy heals quickly. What can I say? It’s just another reason why he’s been in the game so long and why he’s done so well. He wants to come back and play. It looked really bad when it happened, but the stitches are out and he’s looking fine right now.”
Expect Selanne to be on a line with Mathieu Perreault and Devante Smith-Pelly.
ON THE COYOTES
Phoenix is known for its tight-checking, defensive-minded play, and the Ducks know they’ll be in for another close one tonight. Last night’s shootout win over the Canucks was Phoenix’s fifth consecutive victory, and its seventh in 10 games. Though the Ducks currently sit atop the league with 25 points, the Coyotes lurk in the shadows with 24.
Boudreau was asked what jumps out at him regarding the Coyotes.
“Balance,” he said. “They don’t have a lot of weaknesses. They can play whichever way you want to play. They can be physical, they can be high scoring, and they can shut you down. It’s why everybody’s losing to them. It’s why Mike Smith is 8-0-2 in his last 10 games, and why they’ve won five in a row, and they’re beating the best teams they can play.
“They’re very similar to Chicago in that their defense is extremely mobile, and a very big key in their offense. I’m pretty sure they lead the league in points from the back end. They had 41 points going into last game. That makes them ultra-dangerous every time they’re on the ice.”
EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Dustin Penner – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Devante Smith-Pelly – Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne
Emerson Etem - Nick Bonino – Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Cogliano – Rickard Rakell – Daniel Winnik
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Luca Sbisa – Bryan Allen
Jonas Hiller is expected to get the start in net tonight.
Saku Koivu took part in the morning skate and Boudreau said he’ll talk to Koivu to “see where he’s at.”
Matt Beleskey also skated with the team and is “getting closer,” according to Boudreau, who said he thinks he’ll play sooner than later.
Boudreau also said Viktor Fasth took part in the morning skate and “felt great.” Adds Boudreau, “He’ll join us tomorrow for a full workout, and then we’ll take it one day at a time after that. If he feels good after a few more practices, we’ll decide when he’s going to play.”