They don't come around often, but today, the Ducks will close out their four-game road trip with a rare matinee affair against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. (10 a.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830). The Ducks (4-1-0) have won four of their first five games this season to match the best start in club history. They've also earned victories in two of their first three away from Honda Center (2-1-0), including a 2-1 triumph on Friday night in Columbus.
While the Ducks haven't set the league ablaze with their offense, they've been stellar on the defensive side of things. They enter today's game having allowed only six goals this season, a franchise-best through five games (previously nine), and lead the NHL in goals allowed per game (1.20). The Ducks also co-lead the NHL in fewest third-period goals allowed (one) and rank third in penalty killing percentage (93.8%).
One of the reasons why the Ducks have gotten off to a hot start this season (aside from strong performances from goaltenders John Gibson and Ryan Miller) is the offensive production from their defensemen. Through five games, Ducks defensemen have collected 10 points, including four assists from Hampus Lindholm and a pair of goals from Cam Fowler. Eakins says he wants his blueliners actively involved in the offensive zone to help generate scoring chances.
"As you can see, we're going to have to score by committee," Eakins said. "We need our defensemen involved with every one of our lines. We're taking the mindset of, Can you get that extra shot to the net? Can you get inside just one more time? Can you chip in with three more goals than you did last year? It's one place we're a little challenged in. We need everybody chipping in on the goals."
Like the Ducks, the Bruins have gone 4-1-0 through their first five games. Of those four wins, two have come via shutout. They've gone 2-0-0 vs. Pacific Division teams and 3-1-0 against the Western Conference thus far. Brad Marchand (seven points - 4g/3a) and Patrice Bergeron (four points - 1g/3a) enter today's game riding four-game point streaks. The Bruins have allowed eight goals through their first five games, their fewest goals allowed through the first five games of a season since 1998-99 (three GA). The Bruins are coming off their 20th appearance in the Stanley Cup Final - a seven-game series against the Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
"Any time you play a team that had a good run last year, when you can come in and play a team like that, especially on the road, it's a good measuring stick," said Ducks center Derek Grant. "They have a lot of returning guys. They play a strong system and have some really skilled players. I think this game is our biggest game like the one before was. We're looking at each game individually. If we can win this game, and finish off the road trip that way, it'll be huge for us."
The Ducks are 19-11-6 all-time against the Bruins, including a 10-6-2 mark on the road. They've earned points in 10 of their last 12 vs. Boston (9-2-1) dating to Oct. 31, 2013. At TD Garden, the Ducks have taken four of the past five games (4-1-0) dating to March 26, 2015, and have gone 6-2-2 in their last 10. Ryan Getzlaf leads active Ducks in career scoring vs. Boston with 15 points (4g/11a) in 18 games.