By Kyle Shohara
The goal of winning the week begins tonight as Anaheim hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets at Honda Center (7 p.m. PT, KDOC, AM 830).
With only three games remaining before the Olympic break, and two of those at Honda Center, the Ducks will need to regain their home dominance after going 2-3-0 in their past five games on home ice.
Despite their recent struggles, Teemu Selanne says it’s good to have a little adversity.
“A lot of times, the team heals together when you go through tough times as a group,” he said. “You have to turn things around together. We have to remind each other that there’s still a level to reach, and we have to keep pushing each other. That’s the only way to get better.”
Adds Selanne, “We all know the season will be up and down, and lately we haven’t been as consistent as before. But as a group, we want to make sure we’re heading up again. We need everybody to get going.”
The Ducks will need all hands on deck tonight as they face one of the hottest teams in the league. Columbus is 7-3-0 in its past 10 games, 11-4-0 in 15, and had a franchise-best eight-game winning streak from Jan. 6 to 23. The Blue Jackets are right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference, currently sitting in seventh place (tied with eighth place Detroit) with 60 points.
Columbus sports a 16-11-2 record on home ice, but is only average on the road (12-12-2). Nevertheless, head coach Bruce Boudreau knows how dangerous the Jackets can be.
“We have to work,” he said. “If we don’t work against Columbus, we’re in trouble. They’ve got a work ethic team that’s feeling it, and they have great goaltending.
“They’re very similar to Dallas. I thought Dallas played a very complete game, and Columbus plays a very complete game. I think our last five or six games against them have all been one-goal games or overtime games. It comes down to scoring a power-play goal or shorthanded goal. We’re in for a dog fight tonight.”
UPDATE ON ‘BONES’
Ducks forward Nick Bonino will not play tonight but there’s a chance he plays on Saturday in Nashville if things go according to plan.
“A lot depends on Nick and getting through practice on Thursday and Friday,” said Boudreau. “If he gets through practice Thursday and Friday, there’s a good possibility that he’ll play in Nashville.”
Bonino was the third-leading scorer on the team at the time of his injury (16g/24a).
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Being “cute” in hockey is never a good thing, and forward Jakob Silfverberg says the Ducks have been guilty of looking for perfection instead of simplicity.
“We have to get back to working hard and making simple plays,” he said. “The past couple games, we’ve been trying to play too pretty and too cute. We need to get back to working hard and skating.”
Andrew Cogliano says the Ducks are in for a long night if they deviate from their game plan.
“If we forecheck hard, move pucks quickly, and get into the offensive zone, we’ll have success,” he said. “If not, it’ll be a tough game. Tonight’s a game where we need to respond after being shut out.”
RETURN OF VATANEN
Earlier today the Ducks announced they had recalled defenseman Sami Vatanen from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. Vatanen was recalled because of an injury to Mark Fistric (lower body) during the first period of Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars. Fistric has since been placed on injured reserve.
It was a short AHL stint for Vatanen, who was reassigned to the Admirals on January 21 upon Luca Sbisa’s return to the lineup.
“The games went pretty well there,” he said. “We won three out of four, so it was fun and I got a lot of playing time. It’s always fun to play like that.
“You try to be better every day and work hard. You do your best and keep doing what you’re doing.”
The 22-year-old has appeared in 39 contests for Anaheim this season, earning 14 points (6g/8a) with a +3 rating and 20 penalty minutes. Vatanen ranks tied for first among team blueliners in goals (6), second in power-play goals (2), third in points (14) and fourth in shots (59).
Anaheim and Columbus conclude a two-game season series tonight at Honda Center. The Ducks earned a 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets in the series opener on Oct. 27 at Nationwide Arena, keyed by Corey Perry's second game-winning goal of the season. Anaheim has earned points in seven straight games vs. Columbus dating to a 7-4 win on Jan. 8, 2012 at Honda Center, going 4-0-3 for 11 of a possible 14 points. All-time, the Ducks have posted a record of 24-17-7 against the Blue Jackets, including a 12-7-5 mark in Orange County. Teemu Selanne leads Ducks skaters in career scoring vs. Columbus, earning 42 points (21g/21a) in 40 games.