By Kyle Shohara
If there is ever a time for a breakthrough performance this early into the season, that time is now. For what lies ahead after tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild is a daunting five-game road trip through the meat of the Central Division, which begins in Nashville and ends in St. Louis. Still in search of their first win and some much-needed scoring, the Ducks can turn the page and move forward with a solid effort tonight.
Perhaps some new blood can help kick-start this offense, especially on the power play. Yesterday, defensemen Shea Theodore and Korbinian Holzer were recalled from the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League – moves made because Simon Despres (upper body) and Clayton Stoner (lower body) were placed on Injured Reserve.
Theodore, in particular, could be an option tonight for Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. The 20-year-old earned one assist with a +3 rating in two games with San Diego this season, and in 15 career AHL games with the Gulls and Norfolk Admirals, Theodore has recorded four goals 11 points. The 6-2, 195-pound blueliner was named the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Defenseman of the Year in 2014-15, and concluded his WHL career as Seattle’s all-time leader in goals (58) and points (212) by a defenseman. Tonight would mark Theodore's NHL debut.
If these are the darkest of days this season, Boudreau says his club will be better for it, especially if they come out of it playing the right way.
“We were a lot better [vs. Colorado] at [going to the right areas] than we’ve done in the three previous games,” Boudreau said. “We want to stay with that, build on that. Good things are going to happen, eventually. It would be a pressure release everywhere. The fans are dying to cheer for a goal.
“I listened all last year to teams that weren’t successful that said they had no puck luck. I said I’d never use that as an excuse. You make your own luck. If you go to the right places and win the right battles, the luck will come your way.”
Honda Center’s roof might blow off tonight if the red goal light comes on for the Ducks, especially early on.
“We need it for the team,” said Andrew Cogliano. “We’re only four games in. That’s the most important thing. There is some adversity we need to push through. It’s good to have that now because we need to respond. Guys need to find a way, so when tough times come down the line, and, in moments where we really need to push through, guys will be better for it. Now it’s a matter of finding a way. Guys are willing to do that.”
The Ducks are hosting Hockey Fights Cancer (HFC) Night presented by Loma Linda University Health tonight. Joining a month-long, league-wide initiative, the Ducks celebrate Hockey Fights Cancer Night to raise awareness for the Loma Linda University Cancer Center (LLUCC). The interactive evening will encourage fan participation in a variety of ways including the creation of “I Fight For” cards recognizing loved ones affected by cancer.
With lavender serving as the official HFC color (representing awareness for all types of cancers), Ducks players will have lavender HFC decals affixed to their helmets throughout the month. For tonight's game, the first 3,000 fans to enter Honda Center will receive lavender HFC ribbons to wear for the game.
More information on Hockey Fights Cancer Night can be found here.