By Kyle Shohara
Because of the earlier start time (4 p.m. PT) tonight and it being the second half of back to backs, the Ducks did not hold a morning skate at Rexall Place. Therefore, line combinations and tonight’s starting goaltender will remain unknown until pre-game warm ups.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau could opt to go with 21-year-old goaltender John Gibson for the second consecutive night after a strong performance last night in Anaheim’s 6-3 victory at Calgary. Or he could tap the shoulder of backup netminder Ilya Bryzgalov, who hasn’t played since Feb. 10 at Florida. Knowing the Ducks return home to face the Detroit Red Wings on Monday for the club’s third game in four nights might also be reason to use Bryzgalov tonight. Bryzgalov played briefly with the Oilers in 2013-14, posting a 5-8-5 record, 3.01 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in 20 games.
A couple of milestones will be reached tonight when the puck drops shortly after four o’clock. Tonight will mark Corey Perry’s 700th career NHL game and the 600th for Andrew Cogliano. Perry ranks second all-time in games played as a Duck (currently at 699), behind only Teemu Selanne (966). Cogliano is the NHL’s reigning Ironman, having never missed a game in his NHL career dating to Oct. 4, 2007 with Edmonton. Only two players in NHL history have played more consecutive games to start their careers, including Doug Jarvis (the NHL's all-time Ironman overall with 964 consecutive games from 1975-88) and Andy Hebenton (second with 630 consecutive games from 1955-64).
“You always want to be in the lineup and contributing,” said Cogliano. “It’s nice to get to that many games.” It’s fitting his 600th game will come against his former team, which traded him to Anaheim for a second-round selection in the 2013 NHL Draft on July 12, 2011. The 27-year-old has gone on to appear in 271 games with Anaheim, recording 57 goals, 110 points and a plus-21 rating.
Cogliano was the catalyst for Anaheim’s offensive outburst in last night’s satisfying victory over Calgary, scoring Anaheim’s first goal of the game and setting up Francois Beauchemin’s game-tying tally after using his speed to carry the puck up the ice and finding Beauchemin in the low slot.
“He made a great play on the second goal,” said Boudreau after last night’s game. “You could really feel the bench come alive after that. After that, we peppered [Jonas Hiller] pretty good. I can’t remember the last time we had 35-plus shots. It was a good game all around.”
Kyle Palmieri said Cogliano took it upon himself to snap his team out of their offensive funk. “He was the little spark we needed him to be. Especially with the way things have been going lately, this one felt great.”
The ever-modest Cogliano says there really isn’t a secret behind his Iron Man streak. Rather, he credits it to proper nutrition and off-ice conditioning and preparation. “I’ve always enjoyed the nutrition aspect and the physical aspect outside of hockey,” he said. “Hopefully that’s paid dividends for me. I just come to play.”
Cogliano says he’s been fortunate to avoid major injuries over the course of his eight-year career, noting that only a couple of minor ankle and shoulder injuries have gotten in the way. He didn't mention the time he got several teeth knocked out by a Brandon Bollig high stick in a game vs. Chicago on March 20, 2013. Cogliano, by the way, didn't miss a shift in what was his 439th consecutive game.
“You just put your equipment on and go out there,” said Cogliano, spoken like a true hockey player. “I don’t think I’m anything special in terms of how the mindset is with hockey guys. Everyone is the same in this league. As a group, guys are very tough. It’s the nature of the game. Guys want to play, and guys play injured all the time. It’s never been a huge deal for me to go through that.”
Anaheim and Edmonton play the third game of a four-game season series tonight at Rexall Place. The Ducks are 47-35-7 all-time vs. the Oilers, including 19-3-1 since Mar. 31, 2009. In Edmonton, the Ducks have won 12 of the last 14 games (12-1-1) and are 21-19-4 overall at Rexall Place. Anaheim has won the first two games in 2014-15, including a 2-1 victory on Dec. 10 at Honda Center (Ryan Kesler GWG) and a 4-2 win on Dec. 12 at Rexall Place (Ryan Getzlaf GWG). Kesler leads active Ducks skaters in career scoring vs. Edmonton, earning 37 points (10g/27a) in 53 games. These two teams will conclude the season series at Honda Center on Wednesday, April 1.