By Kyle Shohara
Morning Skate Photos
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau likened this home-and-home series with the Edmonton Oilers to that of a baseball doubleheader. The emphasis, he says, is to win the first game so that you’re in the driver’s seat for the second one, which will be Friday in Edmonton.
“You win the first game and the second game is an added bonus,” he said today after the morning skate at Honda Center. “If you lose the first game, then you really have to dig deep because you don’t want to get swept. We feel this is an important game especially with them playing last night.”
Edmonton dropped a 5-2 contest last night in San Jose after giving up three unanswered goals in the second and third periods. The loss was their ninth in the past 10 games and the 16th defeat in regulation. The Oilers enter tonight’s action dead last in the Western Conference and tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for the fewest points in the league (Edmonton is 7-16-5, 19 points).
“The minute you start thinking you’re playing an inferior team, you’re in real trouble,” Boudreau cautions. “They’re an NHL team that can bite you.”
Tonight marks the first of a four-game season series between the Ducks and Oilers. Following Friday’s game, the season series continues in Edmonton on Saturday, Feb. 21 before concluding at Honda Center on Wednesday, Apr. 1.
The Ducks are 45-35-7 all-time vs. the Oilers, including 16-3-1 since the start of the 2009-10 season. Anaheim has won a franchise-tying four consecutive home games against Edmonton for a 25-16-3 all-time record at Honda Center. Leading the way for the Ducks is Ryan Kesler, who has 35 points (9g/26a) in 51 career games vs. Edmonton.
With Edmonton’s struggles, especially against Western Conference opponents (1-13-4), forward Patrick Maroon says the Ducks will focus on setting the tone early with physical play.
“We’re a big, physical and strong team,” said Patrick Maroon. “We need to get pucks deep and grind their D down. If we do that, we’ll be successful tonight. We can’t lay an egg. They’ve been struggling lately, but we need to focus on what we need to do to get better.”
Adds Matt Beleskey, “We watched a bunch of their game last night. They’re creating a lot of offense, so it’ll be a good challenge.”
Goaltender Frederik Andersen is expected to make his 16th consecutive start tonight. His current 15-game stretch is the most by an Anaheim goaltender since Jonas Hiller started a club-record 32 straight from Jan. 12-Mar. 18, 2012. Andersen enters tonight currently ranked tied for sixth among NHL goaltenders in wins (14).
Former Duck Viktor Fasth is expected to start for Edmonton.
Ben Lovejoy took part in the morning skate today, but is not expected to play. Boudreau says he expects Lovejoy to play in at least one of the weekend games coming up (Friday at Edmonton, Saturday at Winnipeg).
Lovejoy fractured his finger during a fight against Sharks forward Joe Pavelski on Oct. 26. The 30-year-old defenseman had one assist in nine games before he was shelved with the injury.