With the trade deadline now a thing of the past, the Ducks will look to make it nine wins a row tonight as they host the Montreal Canadiens at Honda Center. Among the familiar faces that take the ice tonight will be a new one, with a number not yet seen before in a game with this franchise.
Newly acquired left wing Jamie McGinn arrived into town yesterday afternoon, and will wear No. 88 for the Ducks. Head coach Bruce Boudreau says McGinn will play on a line with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry.
“I’m very excited to be here,” said McGinn. “It’s a great opportunity for me. To make a playoff run, there’s nothing better in hockey.”
McGinn believes his style of play will be a good fit here in Anaheim. “It’s never an easy game playing against them,” he said of the Ducks, who will undoubtedly become an “us” for McGinn soon enough. “I always enjoyed playing against them because it’s my kind of style. It’s a team you don’t want to run into in the playoffs. I hope I can contribute.”
The rugged power forward recorded 14-13—27 points in 63 games on a struggling Sabres team this season. He put up a career-high 19 goals with the Colorado Avalanche during the 2013-14 season, but was included in the blockbuster trade in June that also sent Ryan O'Reilly to the Sabres in exchange for defenseman Nikita Zadorov, forwards Mikhail Grigorenko and J.T. Compher, and the No. 31 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Anaheim acquired the 6-1, 205-pound winger for a conditional third-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft that can become a second-round pick in 2017 if the Ducks win two rounds in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 27-year-old McGinn plays in at least half of those games.
To come from a team near the bottom of the standings to one primed for the postseason is nothing but good, McGinn says. “When you’re winning more games than you’re losing, it’s a lot more fun. The locker room is a lot happier and you enjoy coming to work every day. I’m thrilled about it.”
McGinn says this is a “fresh start” in terms of familiarity with those already inside the dressing room, but jokingly admits he’s gotten to know Ryan Kesler on the ice because both play an in-your-face style of game. “You go to war against these guys every day, so it’s nice to be in the same locker room. I get to know them as a person and go to war with them now.”
McGinn co-led the Sabres in game-winning goals (3), ranked tied for second in power-play goals (6), fourth in power-play points (6-3—9) and shooting percentage (12.8%), and tied for fourth in assists. One of three Sabres to appear in all 63 games this season, McGinn also ranked fourth among team leaders in hits (113).
“He’s a big-bodied guy that can skate and has a touch around the net,” said Boudreau.” He’s got 14 goals this year and I think it’s a good acquisition. I think he’ll fit in well with us.”
In net for Anaheim will be John Gibson. The 22-year-old brings a 15-8-2 record into tonight’s contest to go along with a 2.10 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Gibson currently ranks tied for second among NHL netminders in GAA and ranks second among rookies in wins and tied for second in SV%.
Defenseman Clayton Stoner will draw back into the lineup to replace Simon Despres, who is out with the flu. Stoner hasn’t played since Jan. 15 against the Dallas Stars.
Though the Canadiens have struggled mightily since bursting out of the gate with a 9-0 record, Boudreau says their speed will serve as a big challenge for his squad.
“They’re very fast,” said Boudreau. “Their forwards can skate. First line through fourth line, they’re really quick. They work hard. If we’re not ready to match their work ethic, bad things are going to happen. We’ve had trouble with really fast teams in the past.”
WHAT A MONTH
The Ducks recently completed their best month in club history with a 12-1-1 record in February, posting their most wins, standings points (25 pts.) and highest points percentage in a single month (.893%). The Ducks have won eight consecutive games and earned points in 10 straight (9-0-1, 19 pts.), both marking the NHL's longest active streaks. The eight-game win streak is tied for the second-longest in franchise history (also Dec. 31, 2013-Jan. 15, 2014), while the point streak is Anaheim's longest since Nov. 29-Dec. 28, 2013 (13 games, 11-0-2). Only Anaheim, Washington and LA have posted two separate win streaks of six or more this season.
In addition, Anaheim’s seven consecutive home wins represent the league's longest active home streak. Anaheim enters tonight’s game with the NHL’s top overall record (22-4-2, .821 points percentage) since Christmas.