LOS ANGELES – Despite the relatively close proximity of Orange County to Staples Center, the Ducks are treating tonight’s matchup with the Kings like a true road game.
The team spent the night in a nearby hotel and held an optional morning skate at the arena in preparation for what figures to be a rugged, playoff-style matchup tonight against rival LA. Only defensemen Clayton Stoner (out with a hip injury), Korbinian Holzer and center Harry Zolnierczyk skated.
Line combinations remain to be seen, though with the recent success the Ducks have had with their configurations, you can figure they’ll remain unchanged to start.
That being said, it looks like it’ll be John Gibson against Jonathan Quick tonight, the two goalies who shined for the Pacific Division in last Sunday’s 1-0 shutout of the Atlantic in the All-Star championship game. Gibson (11-7-2) leads the league in goals-against average (1.91) and ranks tied for third in shutouts (4).
Earlier today, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau stressed the importance of bringing a complete effort against one of the league’s top teams.
“You better bring your best game,” Boudreau said. “Your goaltender has to be good. It’s usually a one-goal game. If you bring only 80 percent of your game, you’re not going to win. You have to bring 100 percent of your game. You have to have all four lines, six defensemen and the goalie going.”
The Ducks have been doing just that recently, with victories in four consecutive games, six of their last seven (6-1-0) and 11 of their last 15 (11-3-1). Anaheim also has a six-game road standings point streak (4-0-2), its longest since a seven-game streak from Nov. 30-Dec. 23, 2013 (6-0-1).
“We know how we need to play to win,” Ryan Kesler said yesterday. “We definitely played that way against LA [in the first meeting]. If we put that effort on the ice again, we’ll be successful.”
Kesler had the assignment of shutting down Anze Kopitar, one of the premier centers in the league. Expect Kesler to line up across Kopitar whenever possible tonight.
Although the Ducks came out on the wrong side of a 3-2 score in the series opener, it allowed Boudreau to find line combinations that have stuck. One line in particular is the trio of David Perron, Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Stewart. Perron scored his first goal as a Duck in his debut with the team in that loss, and has since gone on to earn two goals and five points in five games with Anaheim. Perron and Stewart played together before when both were members of the St. Louis Blues, and along with Getzlaf, have the ability to play a puck possession game, which plays into the strengths of all three.
PROJECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
David Perron – Ryan Getzlaf – Chris Stewart
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Patrick Maroon – Rickard Rakell – Corey Perry
Ryan Garbutt – Nate Thompson – Mike Santorelli
Cam Fowler – Kevin Bieksa
Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson
Simon Despres – Sami Vatanen
Milan Lucic – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Dwight King – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Marian Gaborik – Vincent Lecavalier – Trevor Lewis
Tanner Pearson – Nick Shore – Kyle Clifford
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Alex Martinez – Luke Schenn
Brayden McNabb – Jamie McBain