By Kyle Shohara
If Monday’s game at Chicago was considered Anaheim’s best 60-minute effort of the season, and Tuesday’s contest in Dallas was the club’s goal-scoring awakening, will tonight be the night the Ducks finally get off the schneid?
Unforgiving can be an adjective used to describe the five-game road trip up this point. The Ducks have earned just a single point (1-0 OT loss vs. Blackhawks) in the first four games and have been outscored 13-4. Three of those goals came in their 4-3 loss against the Stars two nights ago.
Going for the Ducks tonight in net in St. Louis will be Frederik Andersen, whose 0-4-2 record doesn’t come close to summarizing his play this season. Tonight will mark Andersen’s fourth consecutive start.
Andersen, who enters the game with a 2.05 goals-against average and .931 save percentage, is unbeaten in his career against the Blues (4-0-0). He earned his first career shutout on Oct. 19, 2014 against St. Louis and has a 1.75 GAA and .948 SV%.
Opposite Andersen will be Jake Allen, as reported from the morning skate. Blues bench boss Ken Hitchcock says the decision to roll with Allen tonight is a reward for his 26-save performance in the club's 2-0 shutout victory vs. Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Looking at the season from a big-picture standpoint reveals 72 games remaining (including tonight) for the Ducks, who have four of a possible 18 points through nine games. Plenty of time remaining? On paper, yes. But Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says his club needs to start stringing wins together now.
“The level of urgency is as high as you can be,” said Boudreau. “There are only so many points on the table in 82 games. You have to start putting games together. If you have to get 99 points to get into the playoffs, that’s 47 wins for us right now. That’s not an easy task.”
Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa says the team can’t afford to look ahead in the schedule at this point. Corey Perry says it’s about competing for the player next to you.
“It’s all about showing your teammates that you care,” Perry said. “It’s going out and doing the right things and playing the system. It’s about competing, winning your battles. We have to dig deep.”
Boudreau says he hopes the Ducks dictate the play tonight much like they did in the opening 20 minutes of the Dallas game on Tuesday.
“We don’t want to be reacting to what they do,” he said. “Hopefully we can come out and have a first period like we did the other night.”
NOTE: The Blues are without Jaden Schwartz, who suffered a fractured left ankle during practice Friday. Schwartz had surgery to repair the fracture, and will be evaluated in 12 weeks. The 23-year-old had four assists and a plus-4 rating through the Blues' first seven games this season.