By Kyle Shohara
What can a win do tonight for the Ducks? For one, it would tie the record for the longest winning streak in franchise history (10 games). And second, depending on what happens in the Canadiens-Kings game later tonight, a victory could put Anaheim in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division. It was hard to imagine that in December, but the Ducks have managed to erase a 16-point deficit with a remarkable run since play resumed following the Christmas break.
Anaheim enters tonight's game with the NHL’s top overall record (23-4-2, .828 points percentage) and road record (10-1-2) since Christmas, and in February posted its most wins (12), standings points (25 pts.) and highest points percentage in a single month (.893%).
It wasn’t too long ago when they were chasing tonight’s opponent, the Arizona Coyotes, for third place in the division. The Ducks went one way while the Coyotes went another. Arizona went 0-5 on their five-game road trip, which included a 6-0 loss in Pittsburgh on Monday, and have dropped a season-high six straight. But although they’ll likely miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, the future is bright in the desert with highly skilled rookies Max Domi and Anthony Duclair in the mix.
Frederik Andersen is expected to start in net tonight after John Gibson went the distance last night against the Canadiens. The consistency in net is evident on paper – both goaltenders have won 16 games (Andersen: 16-8-6, Gibson: 16-8-2). Andersen enters tonight’s game having won five consecutive decisions, and has won 11 of his past 12 decisions (11-0-1). The 26-year-old was named to Team Europe for the World Cup of Hockey 2016
Opposite Andersen will be rookie goaltender Niklas Treutle, who will make his first career NHL start tonight. The 24-year-old was signed as a free agent on July 29, 2015 and made his NHL debut in relief on Feb. 20 vs. St. Louis. Treutle stopped all four shots faced in 9:54 of action. The Nuremberg, Germany native had a 9-11-5 mark with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons and posted a 20-10-0 record in 30 games with Munich (DEL) last season.
Ducks fans will get another glimpse of the team’s newest player, left wing Jamie McGinn, who had a solid debut last night in the 3-2 shootout victory. McGinn got the Ducks on the board when he deftly deflected Hampus Lindholm’s shot from the point, brought it into his wheelhouse and chipped it past Canadiens goaltender Mike Condon. The goal was his 15th of the season – he had a career-high 19 goals in 2013-14 with Colorado. McGinn became the second Ducks to score in his debut this season (the other being David Perron vs. LA). The 27-year-old finished the night with a goal, three hits and two blocked shots in 15:31 TOI.
Look for McGinn to skate alongside Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry again tonight.
“That’s definitely the way I wanted to start,” McGinn said after the game. “I wanted to play simple and hard. I definitely wanted to help out in a victory, and I’m glad we got it done at the end of the day.”
McGinn’s physical style of play and ability to set up shop in front of the opposing netminder is something he takes pride in. “As long as I park myself in front, and make sure I jam away and not miss those opportunities, that’s what I want to do. That’s how I can contribute. I just want to be a presence in front of the net. A lot of goals in the NHL right now are scored in the blue paint. That’s a good spot for me to park myself.”