By Kyle Shohara
Tonight, the Ducks get their first glimpse at the new home of the New York Islanders. Because the team opted not to hold a pregame skate this morning, they’ll board buses bound for Brooklyn later this afternoon where the sparkling Barclays Center resides.
According to the arena's official website, Barclays Center "boasts one of the most intimate seating configurations ever designed for a modern multi-purpose arena, and is a model for sustainable design and construction." Unfortunately for Islanders fans, the building wasn’t optimized for hockey, thus, obstructed seating can be found in various sections of the arena. In fact, approximately 400 of the 15,795 are considered obstructed seats. Fans tuning in to tonight’s broadcast will also notice a white SUV in one of the corners, one that has gained enough popularity that it has its own Twitter account: @IslesWhiteSUV.
The Ducks face the Islanders at a good time. Although the Islanders enter the game with an 18-11-5 record, including an 11-5-2 mark on home ice, they’ve lost three in a row and have been outscored 8-2 in those games. Before their three-game skid, the Isles hadn’t lost in regulation in 10 consecutive games (8-0-2).
After appearing in his 100th NHL game on Saturday, Frederik Andersen (5-7-4) could make his second consecutive start tonight. The win was Andersen’s 60th of his career; only two other goaltenders who have debuted in the last 30 years won at least 60 of their first 100 games in the NHL: Chris Osgood (69) and Antti Niemi (61). If head coach Bruce Boudreau tabs John Gibson (4-4-1), tonight would mark his ninth start in the past 10 games.
Andersen credits his diligent work with Ducks goaltending consultant Dwayne Roloson over the past few weeks for keeping him sharp and game-ready.
“It’s played out well for me,” Andersen said. “I’ve felt great on the ice in practice for a long time now, and it showed in the game [on Saturday vs. New Jersey] that I was ready to go."
If line combinations carry over from that game, expect to see the following:
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Jiri Sekac-Rickard Rakell-Jakob Silfverberg
Carl Hagelin-Ryan Kesler-Andrew Cogliano
Mike Santorelli-Shawn Horcoff-Chris Stewart
Cam Fowler-Kevin Bieksa
Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson
Korbinian Holzer-Sami Vatanen
And although a lack of scoring has been an issue all season, Kesler says Saturday’s 2-1 victory showed the team’s ability to buckle down defensively with the lead.
“The games we do win we’re really focused defensively and focused throughout the game with changes and with shift lengths,” Kesler said. “All the guys bought in [Saturday]. I thought we had a good first period and we held on for the rest of the game."
The Ducks did all the little things right, including blocking shots, says Maroon, who hopes to see more of the same tonight against the Islanders.
"I just thought we had a good effort all the way around,” Maroon said. “Some really good blocked shots that made a difference. You saw Silfverberg’s in the last 29 seconds. That's what wins hockey games. We backchecked really well. It was a stepping stone in the right direction.”
As for scoring the first goal of the game, the stats don’t lie. The Ducks are 9-2-4 when they score first, and 3-12-1 when scored on first. New York is 12-3-2 when it scores first, and 6-8-3 when giving up the game’s first goal.
“You just look at the statistics of teams that win when scoring the first goal, and it's quite amazing,” said Boudreau. "You sit there and go, it’s only one goal, but it is an amazing statistic.”
Adds Perry, “When you get that early lead, it's definitely beneficial for the team. You’re not chasing the game after that, and you’re playing with the lead. You’re protecting it and you’re doing all the right things. You’re not changing any game plan. When we can do that early, it definitely helps our team.”