By Kyle Shohara
No rest for the traveling Ducks, as tonight they’re in Dallas to take on the Stars at American Airlines Center on Halloween.
The ghouls were out a night earlier, however, as last night Anaheim suffered its first shutout loss of the season, a 2-0 final at St. Louis. For a team with plenty of offensive firepower, goals have been hard to come by recently. The Ducks have scored just twice in the past three games, and it’s no surprise they lost two of those.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says it’s up to the players to do whatever it takes to score.
“Looking at the video last night, we just weren’t good,” he said. “We didn’t generate anything offensively to score. When you only score two goals in three games, you better do something different that you’re not used to if you want to get goals.”
“There always seems to be a reason why you stop scoring goals,” said Nate Thompson. “You can see that we’re not getting those second- and third chances like we were in the beginning of the season. It’s time to simplify things.”
Tonight is another big test for the Ducks, who face a Stars team that didn’t play last night (they lost 4-3 in OT two nights ago at home vs. St. Louis). All-time, Anaheim owns a record of 39-60-11 vs. Dallas, including a 14-34-7 mark in the Lone Star State.
But with that said, few can forget the dramatics that went down the last time the Ducks were in Dallas. Anaheim became the fifth NHL team since 1977 to rally from a multiple-goal deficit in the final 2:10 of regulation to win a playoff game (Game 6, Western Conference First Round) with a Nick Bonino goal at 17:50 of the third period and a Devante Smith-Pelly tally with 24 seconds remaining in regulation. Bonino completed the comeback with his second career OT goal at 2:47 of the extra frame to eliminate the Stars from postseason play.
That loss still lingers with the Stars, and captain Jamie Benn says they’ll use it as motivation tonight. “We want to get some payback,” he said. “It’s just another game, but in the back of our heads we want to win this one for sure.”
The Stars wasted no time improving their club. On July 1, they acquired former Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza (and Ludwig Karlsson) for Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill, Nicolas Paul and a 2015 second-round pick. Dallas also signed free agent Ales Hemsky on that day, further bolstering their forward corps.
“They’ve got at least one guy who is different,” said Boudreau, referring to Spezza. “He makes a big difference out there. [Tyler] Seguin is another year older, and Benn is in his second year of captaincy.”
Spezza enters the game riding a six-game point streak (2-9=11) and ranks second behind Seguin (7-8=15) in team scoring.
Speed is the name of the game when describing the Stars.
“We know they can skate like crazy, and we thought they were as fast as any team that we played in the league last year,” said Boudreau. “So you add that other element, and they’re way more dangerous and deeper. They have good forward depth.”
“Their speed is the No. 1 thing,” said Thompson. “Last year when I played them a couple times, they were by far the fastest team I ever played. They move the puck so quick, they’re dangerous off the rush and they’re one of those teams that you can’t make glaring mistakes against.”
FOLLOWING IN HIS FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS
During the morning media scrum, Boudreau said defenseman Josh Manson will make his NHL debut tonight. He’s the son of former NHL defenseman Dave Manson, who racked up 2,792 penalty minutes in 1,103 NHL games. The elder Manson was regarded as one of the most intimidating players of his time.
The Ducks selected Manson in the sixth round (160th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft, and the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native went on to play three years at Northeastern University (Hockey East) before turning pro near the end of last season with the Norfolk Admirals (American Hockey League). The 6-foot-3, 217-pound blueliner was named a 2013-14 Hockey East Second Team All-Star and the Best Defensive Defenseman after captaining Northeastern to a 19-14-4 record.
Boudreau says Manson brings the same type of physicality that his father possessed during his 17-year NHL career.
“He’s a mobile right-handed defenseman that can play physical like his dad,” Boudreau said. “He’s simple, as far as just getting the puck, and moving the puck. He had a good camp. We have a lot of faith in him, and we think he’s going to be a good player. We’ll see how he does tonight.”
MAROON A “GAME-TIME DECISION”
Originally not expected to even be on this four-game road trip, Patrick Maroon is labeled as a game-time decision for tonight’s contest in Dallas. Maroon suffered a lower-body injury on October 13 and was expected to be out for four weeks, but he’s cut that time in half.
Boudreau says the big winger is “pretty close,” and his return would give the Ducks a big boost up front. Maroon had three assists in three games this season, and does his best work in the corners shielding the puck with his 6-foot-2, 231-pound frame.