By Kyle Shohara
Perhaps tonight will be the night when the Ducks turn the page on their recent struggles, and start playing like the team that got them to the top of the NHL standings for most of the season. Back-to-back road losses to begin their five-game road trip led the team to hold a players-only meeting yesterday (without coaches) before their practice at Agganis Arena in Boston. Led by captain Ryan Getzlaf and alternate captains Francois Beauchemin and Corey Perry, the meeting was a chance to fix things internally. With only seven games remaining, including tonight against the desperate Boston Bruins, the Ducks will have to rekindle the fire – and fast – before the real test begins.
“It was just a meeting on bearing down and getting into a playoff mindset like we talked about,” said Matt Beleskey, whose 22 goals rank third on the team. “Just maybe clearing the air a little bit.”
“We’re going to address it right now,” Getzlaf said, on the team’s recent lackluster play. “We’ve got to be accountable and we’ve got to do it before it’s too late. We can’t wait. There’s no point in screaming and yelling at the last game of the year. Now is the time.”
Unlike the Columbus Blue Jackets of Tuesday night, a team clearly out of the playoff race, the Bruins are teetering on the edge. They enter tonight’s game just one point out of the second and final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but an 0-3-2 stretch over their past five games has them yearning for a win. They’ll be without defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who’s out with an undisclosed injury, but should get David Krejci (partially torn MCL in left knee) back after a 15-game absence.
Starting for the Ducks will be Frederik Andersen, who was pulled after giving up three goals on seven shots in the opening 10 minutes of Sunday’s loss against the New York Rangers. Emerson Etem, Tomas Fleischmann and James Wisniewski are expected to be scratches tonight.
HOMECOMING FOR WAGNER
Earlier today, it was confirmed that Walpole, Massachusetts native Chris Wagner will draw into the lineup with up to 200 friends and family in attendance. The 23-year-old said he used to attend between five and 10 games at TD Garden every season while living in the Boston area. “This is what I dreamed of doing, especially this game, playing on this ice either with them or against them,” said Wagner. “I could probably recite most of their banners for you.”
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau knows the young winger will be nervous up until he delivers his first hit, at which point “All those butterflies will leave and he’ll play his game.”
Wagner skated on the fourth line with left wing Andrew Cogliano and center Nate Thompson.
Recalled on March 22 from Norfolk of the American Hockey League, Wagner has appeared in three games for Anaheim this season, going scoreless with two penalty minutes. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 17 vs. Minnesota and has won 10-of-18 faceoff attempts for a 55.6% success rate in his three appearances with the Ducks.
Selected in the fifth round (122nd overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft, Wagner has collected 28 points (15g/13a) with 65 PIM in 48 games for Norfolk this season. The 6-0, 202-pound forward co-led Norfolk in scoring and led in goals and shorthanded goals (2) at the time of his recall.
DUCKS MAKE A DREAM COME TRUE
The Ducks had a very special guest in attendance at their skate earlier today at TD Garden. Shaelin Earle was born with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system. Despite growing up in one of the most passionate sports towns of Boston, Shaelin developed a passion and love for watching the Ducks. When he was granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish foundation, he knew immediately what he wanted to do. His wish was to visit Anaheim and see the Ducks play in person. Shaelin came out to Anaheim in October to see (and meet) the Ducks, but unfortunately that week a couple of players were diagnosed with the mumps.
Although Shaelin was unable to visit the Ducks locker room, the rest of the trip went ahead as planned. When his two favorite players - defenseman Cam Fowler and right wing Corey Perry - heard the news, they wanted to make sure the team made it up to Shaelin when the Ducks arrived in Boston. Shaelin came to the arena in fine style. He rode to the morning skate with Fowler and Perry, and also received his own locker in the Ducks locker room. It didn’t end there, as Shaelin was invited to join in on the game-day team meeting, watch practice and have lunch with the team. EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Jiri Sekac-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Kyle Palmieri
Patrick Maroon-Rickard Rakell-Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano-Nate Thompson-Chris Wagner
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami VatanenBOSTON
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Krejci
Milan Lucic-Ryan Spooner-David Pastrnak
Reilly Smith-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Chris Kelly-Gregory Campbell-Max Talbot
Zdeno Chara-Adam McQuaid
Dennis Seidenberg-Torey Krug
Matt Bartkowski-Zach Trotman