By Kyle Shohara
Before departing for an afternoon flight to the Mile High City, the Ducks held their morning skate at Honda Center, as the club opens its 2015 preseason schedule tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.
While the Avs are expected to dress an NHL-heavy lineup with the likes of captain Gabriel Landeskog, Alex Tanguay and Nathan MacKinnon, the Ducks are going with youth. Rookie Shea Theodore will be among Anaheim’s defensemen tonight, while 18-year-old center Julius Nattinen is expected to center a line with Patrick Maroon and Stefan Noesen. Nick Ritchie, the team’s first selection (10th overall) in 2014, is also expected to take part in tonight’s game.
“It’s going to be a great test,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “If you can show yourself well against those guys, it bodes well for you. First impressions in games are really important. It certainly helps down the road.”
Among those hoping to make a solid first impression is defenseman Brandon Montour, who was paired with Jaycob Megna this morning. Montour, 21, was Anaheim’s second-round selection (55th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft. Tonight will mark Montour’s first preseason game in a Ducks uniform.
“It should be a fun night, excited to get the first one out of the way,” said the soft-spoken Brantford, Ontario native, who put in extra work on power-play drills during the skate. “I need to be good in my own end. Defense first. But when the opportunity is there to create offense, [I’m] going to be there.”
Boudreau confirmed John Gibson as tonight’s starter for Anaheim. Gibson signed a three-year contract extension yesterday. Boudreau says he’ll let the game play out with regard to Gibson’s playing time, with goaltenders Matt Hackett and Ryan Faragher also making the trip to Colorado.
When asked what he hopes to see from his team tonight, Boudreau emphasized work ethic.
“I want to see hard work. It doesn’t matter who we dress,” he said. “I want to see the structure we’ve done thus far in training camp. If we’re prepared to outwork and out-skate them, usually good things happen. That’s a good thing to have. I’m hoping that takes care of itself tonight.”
Though still considered a rookie, 22-year-old Stefan Noesen carries a veteran presence in the youthful Ducks locker room. The rugged power forward appeared in three preseason games last year, made his NHL debut on April 3rd vs. Colorado, and skated in 27 games with Norfolk of the American Hockey League in 2014-15.
“It’s key for us to come out guns blazing,” he said. “We have a young team here. Whenever training camp comes around, you don’t want to hit guys who you’ve been friends with forever. But you’re trying to make the team. It’s going to good to see some new faces out there and putting a beating to them.”LINEUPS
| ||Anaheim Ducks || || ||Colorado Avalanche || |
|1 ||Matt Hackett ||G ||1 ||Semyon Varlamov ||G |
|36 ||John Gibson ||G ||35 ||Roman Will ||G |
|68 ||Ryan Faragher ||G || || || |
| || || ||2 ||Nick Holden ||D |
|19 ||Patrick Maroon ||LW ||4 ||Tyson Barrie ||D |
|24 ||Simon Despres ||D ||5 ||Nate Guenin ||D |
|25 ||Mike Santorelli ||C ||8 ||Jack Skille ||RW |
|34 ||Shane O'Brien ||D ||14 ||Blake Comeau ||RW |
|37 ||Nick Ritchie ||LW ||16 ||Nikita Zadorov ||D |
|38 ||Chris Mueller ||C ||25 ||Mikhail Grigorenko ||C |
|41 ||Harry Zolnierczyk ||LW ||27 ||Andreas Martinsen ||LW |
|42 ||Josh Manson ||D ||29 ||Nathan MacKinnon ||RW |
|43 ||Max Friberg ||LW ||34 ||Carl Soderberg ||C |
|46 ||Jiri Sekac ||LW ||38 ||Joey Hishon ||C |
|49 ||Joe Piskula ||D ||40 ||Alex Tanguay ||LW |
|52 ||Julius Nattinen ||C ||43 ||Mat Clark ||D |
|53 ||Shea Theodore ||D ||45 ||Dennis Everberg ||LW |
|62 ||Chris Wagner ||C ||46 ||Brandon Gormley ||D |
|64 ||Stefan Noesen ||RW ||49 ||Conner Bleackley ||C |
|67 ||Rickard Rakell ||C ||92 ||Gabriel Landeskog ||LW |
|71 ||Brandon Montour ||D ||96 ||Mikko Rantanen ||RW |
|75 ||Jaycob Megna ||D || || || |
|85 ||Bryan Moore ||LW || || || |