Despite not earning a victory last night, the Ducks took a step in the right direction in what was arguably their best game of the preseason thus far - a 3-2 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.
John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier were sharp in their preseason debuts. And with four preseason games remaining over the next seven days, expect to see a heavy dose of that tandem as the regular season draws near. Bernier is expected to play tonight against his former club, the LA Kings.
Michael Sgarbossa (1g/1a) and Nick Sorensen (1g) had themselves a good showing last night, and it came at a good time, as most of the club's hockey operations staff was in attendance.
"It didn't really reflect the game, but in the second or third period we got better and better and it's something to build on," Sorensen said last night. The 21-year-old led the Ducks with six shots on goal in 17:11 TOI, and has played the last two seasons in the Swedish Hockey League.
The Ducks remain winless, but it's important to realize that this is the preseason after all. Big-name players like Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg have yet to play. Andrew Cogliano, Cam Fowler, Simon Despres and Sami Vatanen have only played in one game thus far. We'll see how things shake out over these final four games.
The San Diego Gulls open their training camp tomorrow, so you wonder how many of the current roster players get assigned in the coming days. The Ducks currently have 55 players remaining on their training camp roster, including 33 forwards, 16 defensemen and six goaltenders.
Expect to see more of defensemen Brandon Montour and Shea Theodore in the coming games, as both are vying to crack a deep blueline in Anaheim. The 22-year-old Montour led the Ducks in TOI last night (24:35), with 21-year-old Theodore just 30 seconds behind (24:05). Both were standouts at the AHL last season, especially so for Montour, who was named to the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team after recording 57 points (12g/45a) in 68 games and ranking second among AHL defensemen and third among all league rookies in scoring with San Diego.
And while the offensive numbers are nice, the defensive work is most important, so Montour worked closely with Gulls assistant coach Marty Wilford last season to shore up that aspect of his game. Montour was paired primarily with defensive defenseman Jaycob Megna last season in San Diego, and last night had stay-at-home blueliner Clayton Stoner as his d-partner.
Nick Ritchie will also get an extended look the rest of the way. The Ducks need a scoring left wing (or two), and the rugged 20-year-old will have every opportunity to lockdown a roster spot. He's looked good - not great - in his two preseason games, so the big man will need to elevate his level of play from here on out.
As for the Kings, who are taking part in a split-squad game tonight (the other half is in Lumby, British Columbia for Kraft Hockeyville 2016 against the Edmonton Oilers), there's a chance Jonathan Quick could see some time tonight, per LA Kings Insider. "It's sort of [Jonathan's] call," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. "That'll be the coaches' call in Vegas, but [today's] more Jonathan's call."
As a reminder, tonight's game will be televised on Prime Ticket and broadcast on radio at AM 830.