By Kyle Shohara
Morning Skate Photos
When the Ducks take the ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues, there’s a good chance they’ll get another key offensive component back in the lineup.
After Corey Perry made his return on New Year’s Eve, indications are that right wing Kyle Palmieri will play tonight for the first time since Dec. 16. Palmieri, who has missed the past six games due to an upper-body injury, took part in the morning skate on a line with Matt Beleskey and Ryan Kesler.
“Watching from the press box is never fun,” he said. “I’m looking forward to tonight, being healthy again and being back in the lineup.
“If you play a certain brand of hockey and knowing what it takes to win in this league and be successful, you can’t hold back. That’s all I’m looking to do.”
Palmieri is being labeled as a “game-time decision,” as per head coach Bruce Boudreau, who says he and Palmieri will talk later this afternoon on a final verdict.
“Unfortunately, when he got hurt, he was just starting to round into shape,” said Boudreau. “He had been hurt for six weeks to start the season. He’s a natural goal-scorer. Hopefully we can get that back so that it gives us a little bit more balance in the scoring.”
Palmieri has nine points (5g/4a) in 15 games this season.
‘THEY’RE ALWAYS WARS’
That’s how Boudreau described the first two meetings of the season between the Ducks and Blues. Tonight concludes the three-game regular season series between these two clubs, with each team winning on home ice.
Boudreau singled out Blues wunderkind Vladimir Tarasenko as being one to watch tonight. “He’s an awful lot better this year than he’s been in his first two years. He’s dangerous every time he steps on the ice.”
Among league leaders, Tarasenko ranks third in goals (22), ninth in points (39), tied for fourth in game-winning goals (4) and tied for second in even strength goals (17). He also leads the league in “first goals” (6) and road goals (11), although he’s yet to score against Anaheim in his career.
How’s this for a stat? The Blues are 13-3-0 when Tarasenko scores this season and 35-6-0 across his entire career. In addition, he’s one of three players with two hat tricks this season (also Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Anaheim’s Corey Perry).
Leading the Ducks in active scoring vs. St. Louis is Ryan Getzlaf, who has 27 points (6g/21a) in 31 career games against the Blues.
“St. Louis is a great hockey team with a lot of weapons,” he said. “We have to be prepared for a battle against a very deep team. We have to come out and play our best.”
Starting goaltenders are expected to be Frederik Andersen and Martin Brodeur.
SPEAKING OF GETZLAF
Earlier today, the NHL announced that Getzlaf was named the ‘First Star’ for the month of December. Getzlaf led all players with 20 points and 15 assists to power the Ducks (24-9-6, 54 points) to a 10-3-1 December and the top spot in the NHL standings. He registered points in 12 of 14 contests, highlighted by seven multi-point performances. That included an eight-game point streak from Dec. 12-28 (4g/9a), his eighth career run of at least eight games.
“It’s an honor, and an accomplishment along the way,” Getzlaf said. “Any time you’re honored in this league, when you’re talking about competing against the best players in the world, it has to be an honor for you.”
Getzlaf's 20 points in December were the most by a Ducks player in any calendar month since March 2011, when he also posted 20 (2g/18a). His total also set a franchise record for points in December, breaking the previous mark of 19 established by Paul Kariya in 1996 and matched by Teemu Selanne in 2006. The 29-year-old Regina, Sask., native has 42 points (12g/30a) in 38 games this season, ranking fourth in the NHL in points and sharing second in assists.
Much has been made about his success without linemate Perry in the lineup. Perry missed five games earlier this season due to mumps, and missed 10 straight due to a lower-body injury in early December.
“I try to be the same person every time, but I know it doesn’t always work that way,” Getzlaf said. “But for the most part, I’m going to try to play the same way every night. With Corey out, there are different things I have to think about, like line selections, but other than that, I’m just trying to play.”