The New York Islanders draw a tough assignment Wednesday night, as they face off against Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and the league-leading Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.
Perry leads the NHL with 11 goals in 13 games and leads the Ducks with 15 points (11G, 4A) while his linemate, Ryan Getzlaf, has nearly reciprocal stats (3G, 11A). Odds are if Perry scores, Getzlaf will be involved in the play and vice versa.
“You’re not going to stop them, but you have to contain them,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “You have to respect them, but you have to limit their time and space and ability to make plays.”
The Islanders welcomed back Travis Hamonic on Saturday night, meaning their entire back end – excluding Matt Carkner – is healthy and available for tonight’s game. The Islanders defensemen know priority number one is shutting down the Ducks duo.
“Using our speed, using our skating and getting on them quick is going to be huge,” Nick Leddy said. “The more we can keep them in their own zone, the better.”
Priority number two will be to avoid the post-whistle hi-jinx. Perry, Getzlaf and newcomer Ryan Kesler are known for mixing it up after the whistle and goading teams into taking penalties, which the Islanders must avoid. The Ducks power play is converting at 25% at the Pond while the Islanders PK is ranked 30th.
“Don’t get sucked into their shenanigans after the whistle,” de Haan said. “We have to be mentally tough out there and not take dumb penalties. Just stay calm and doing what we have to do.”
The Islanders have struggled to score of late, netting one goal over their last two games. Capuano shuffled his lines again Monday, slotting Nikolay Kulemin on the top line to jumpstart the offense.
After running into a red-hot Semyon Varlamov in Colorado and a formidable Antti Niemi in San Jose, the Islanders may be catching a break, as the Ducks have suffered injuries in goal. Frederik Andersen, who leads the league in goals against average and save percentage, sat out the Ducks last game with leg tightness. His backup, John Gibson, was injured in the pre-game skate and was sent to IR Tuesday. If Andersen doesn’t return, Jason LaBarbera is slated to make his second straight start after winning Sunday in Colorado.
Not having to face one of the league’s top goalies is a potentially a big break for the Islanders, but the Ducks tightened up in front of LaBarbera, allowing only 18 shots in the 3-2 win.
Capuano has not revealed a starter for tonight’s game. Stay tuned to NewYorkIslanders.com for morning skate updates. Puck drop goes at 10:30 p.m. eastern time.