By Kyle Shohara
Anaheim’s five-game road trip didn’t begin the way the club envisioned two nights ago in Nashville, but tonight is a new opportunity for the Ducks to get back into the win column. The Ducks face a familiar foe, the Minnesota Wild, whom they defeated 4-1 last Sunday at Honda Center for their first win of the season. Unfortunately for Anaheim, that’s been the lone bright spot in an otherwise frustrating start to the 2015-16 campaign.
For a team stocked with high-end scorers and depth throughout its lineup, the lack of production has head coach Bruce Boudreau shuffling the deck in hopes of igniting a goal-starved group of forwards. Reports from practice yesterday in St. Paul revealed Mike Santorelli skating with Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Stewart, while Patrick Maroon flanked left wing on a line with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry. Jiri Sekac skated with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg, while Andrew Cogliano, Shawn Horcoff and Tim Jackman rounded out the forward groupings. Carl Hagelin did not practice yesterday, according to reports.
“Ever since I’ve been in the game, which is my whole life, if something isn’t working, and someone isn’t going, you try to find somebody that is,” said Boudreau. “Right now, when you’re struggling to score goals, it’s a hard thing to do. I told the players I hate moving the lines as much as I’m moving them. It kills me, but until we find something that works, we’re going to have to do it.”
As for the revamped line combinations, Boudreau says he’s trying to find the chemistry that has eluded the team thus far.
“I’m trying to find combinations that work,” said Boudreau. “Believe me -- I’d like to have four lines playing every night with no deviation. When you’ve scored six goals in six games, you’re scratching your head to find out where the offense is coming from.”
The Wild spoiled John Tortorella’s Columbus Blue Jackets coaching debut two nights ago at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota goal scorers were Zach Parise, Nino Niederreiter and Thomas Vanek. Devan Dubnyk stopped 24 of 25 shots for his fourth victory of the season (4-1-0). Defenseman Jared Spurgeon earned the game's No. 1 star with two assists.
Parise’s goal was his sixth of the season, placing him in a four-way tie for the league lead with Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn, Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty and LA Kings center Tyler Toffoli.
“We’re continuing to build our game,” said Dubnyk. “We haven’t quite put 60 minutes together. Surprisingly, our best 60 minutes were against Anaheim, our one loss. We’re building our game.”
Looking back on the game against the Wild last week, defenseman Hampus Lindholm (and Boudreau) noted the “little things” as a main reasons for success against a formidable Wild club.
“We stuck to our game and got pucks through,” said Lindholm. “We had guys going hard to the net. We have to go back to playing that way. They’re a quick team that plays pucks quickly. Those are teams you want to beat. We’re looking forward to this game.”
Boudreau adds, “I thought we did the little things properly. We created opportunities. We went to the net. That’s why we got two tip-in goals."
Tonight will represent career game No. 100 for Rakell and No. 300 for Clayton Stoner.