By Kyle Shohara
Morning Skate Photos
We’re nearly a month into the season, and tonight marks just the second time the Ducks have faced a divisional foe, as the Coyotes make their first of two trips to Honda Center. This will be the 111th all-time matchup between the Ducks and Coyotes, and the 57th in Anaheim. The Ducks are 62-32-16 all-time, including a 35-15-6 mark at Honda Center.
The Ducks enter the game in a familiar spot, and that’s atop the league standings. Anaheim leads the NHL in both wins (10) and standings points (21), and has earned points in 11 of its last 13 games (10-2-1, 21 pts.) and five of six at home (4-1-1, 9 pts.). Despite dropping a 3-2 overtime loss two nights ago against the Islanders, the Ducks carry a 7-2-1 mark over their past 10 games.
Arizona comes to Honda Center having won its last two games in which the club racked up nine goals, a stark contrast to the four they put up in the three games prior (all losses). Leading the charge is defenseman Keith Yandle, who has 10 points (1g/9a) in 12 games.
If the Ducks go shorthanded, they’ll have to zero in on Yandle, who paces all blueliners in power-play points (9). Arizona’s power play currently ranks sixth in the NHL (23.4%). Arizona dresses one of the more mobile and offensive d-corps in the league, something Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says his team will have to be aware of.
“They have a quick team with an offensive-minded defense,” he said. “They know where they are in the standings, and they know where we are. A divisional game is really important, so they’ll be ready to play.”
Boudreau also says the head-to-head matchup last season will add fuel to the fire. The Ducks swept the five-game season series last year, their first series sweep over the Coyotes since 1993-94 when Anaheim went 4-0-0 against the then-Winnipeg Jets. [The team relocated to Phoenix prior to the 1996-97 season]. “Knowing what their record was against us last year, they’re going to come out with a little more jump,” Boudreau said. “We’re going to have to be ready for them. They’re on their first two-game winning streak, and they’re going to have more confidence.”
If the morning skate was any indication, you can expect Frederik Andersen to start in net with Jason LaBarbera backing him up.
UPDATE ON GETZLAF, PERRY
Though Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t on the ice for the optional morning skate, Boudreau says the captain is fine and will play. The news isn’t as good for Corey Perry, who is expected to miss his second consecutive game due to flu-like symptoms. “I just know he’s not feeling up to par yet,” said Boudreau. “The guys have all had flu shots, and know all about the germs. We take precautions for it.”
A lower-body injury that kept Bryan Allen out of the lineup for the first 14 games of the season appears to be a thing of the past, as the big defenseman is expected to draw into the lineup tonight. Allen played in the preseason, but the injury occurred just prior to the season opener on October 9 at Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-5, 223-pound blueliner recently completed a two-game conditioning assignment in Norfolk of the American Hockey League, which he says was beneficial in his recovery. “It was good in a lot of ways,” Allen said. “It was good to test some of the injuries I had and make sure there were no issues going forward.”
Allen, who hasn’t played in the AHL since 2002-03 (Manitoba), says it gave him a new appreciation for what they go through on a daily basis. “They grind it out down there,” he said. “It’s not an easy place to be sometimes, but [Norfolk] has a good group of guys who have fun with it.”
“I expect Bryan Allen to play the way I’ve seen Bryan Allen play in the past,” said Boudreau. “If he brings that game, we’ll be very happy. He was a top-four defenseman for us last year, played a lot of minutes, and he’s healthy now.”
Boudreau says Allen is at his best when he minimizes the gap between himself and the onrushing forward[s], in addition to being a physical presence who makes safe, simple plays. “That’s when he’s really effective,” said Boudreau. “I see no reason why he shouldn’t take off where he left off.”