By Kyle Shohara
Morning Skate Photos
The Ducks close out their preseason schedule tonight against the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center, and the lineup expected to play will closely resemble the one that will be used for opening night next Thursday.
Though head coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t exactly reveal who’s in and who’s out, he did say that centers Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Nate Thompson will play. “We haven’t had a game where Getzlaf, Kesler and Thompson have been in, so we wanted to make sure we got that.” he said. “It allows us to only play one of the other guys.”
The “other guys” Boudreau referred to are Rickard Rakell and William Karlsson, two players fighting for a center position in the lineup. Rakell is the more experienced of the two, having played in 22 NHL regular season games and 46 in the American Hockey League. Karlsson made his pro debut last season and appeared in nine games with the AHL’s Admirals. Both have survived three sets of roster cuts that have reduced the roster from 53 to 28.
“Only one of them is in tonight, but it doesn’t mean a thing, quite frankly,” Boudreau said. “I don’t think it’s saying, ‘This guy has won a job, or this guy has lost a job.’ Right now the most important thing for us is getting the other three guys in rather than getting the fourth in.”
Much like Anaheim’s tilt with the Kings last Sunday, tonight’s game should have the look and feel of a regular season contest. “[San Jose] will have more of its lineup, and, obviously, we do, too,” said Andrew Cogliano. “Usually that generates more of a game and more of a regular season feel. We’re looking forward to it. They’re our rival and they’re a team that we need to beat in the regular season. It’ll be good to play them tonight.”
The Ducks have said they want to feel good about themselves heading into the regular season, which begins next Thursday at Pittsburgh. Having nearly a week between games to work out the kinks has been beneficial for the Ducks, who have dropped four straight since opening the preseason with split-squad wins against the Avalanche.
“We’ve worked on special teams, our forecheck, 5-on-5 and D-zone coverage. All the stuff that wasn’t 100 percent during the first couple preseason games,” said Francois Beauchemin. “We all know what we have to do. We just have to put it together in a game. [Tonight] would be a good time to get a big win before the season starts.”
“We want to establish our game and get everything in order,” said Cogliano. “Tonight is the last preseason game. You want to feel good about yourself, do things the right way and look forward to the first game.”
Cogliano says he believes the practices leading up to tonight’s game will pay off in the long run. “Guys really pushed themselves,” he said. “I think it’ll go a long way. We just gotta do it. At the end of the day, you want to put your best foot forward for the last game and really feel good about yourself.
“We have a full lineup, so there are no excuses.”
GIRLS PLAY HOCKEY NIGHT
The Ducks are holding a Girls Play Hockey Night at Honda Center tonight, featuring a special meet-and-greet opportunity with two-time U.S. Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey team medalist and professional women’s hockey player, Hilary Knight.
Knight practiced with the Ducks yesterday at The Rinks – Anaheim ICE before serving as a guest coach for the Lady Ducks hockey team.
The inaugural Girls Play Hockey Night is intended to draw attention to the multitude of successful girls and women’s hockey programs supported by the Ducks in Southern California.
Representatives from the Lady Ducks and The Rinks will participate in pregame ceremonies and intermission activities. Knight will also be honored during a ceremonial puck-drop prior to the game.
The event is the first in a week-long campaign focusing on women’s hockey, ending with the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend on Sunday, October 12th.