Injured goaltenders? Check. A blowout loss? Check. Second regulation win of the season? Check. Sure, the Anaheim Ducks’ checklist doesn’t look very appealing, but they’re making do as best they can due to a number of circumstances.
Stolarz Injured, Dostál Makes Season Debut
The Ducks probably foresaw Lukáš Dostál taking over the net eventually, but not in this fashion. When John Gibson left Dec. 9’s game against the San Jose Sharks early due to illness, he was replaced by Anthony Stolarz. Between the time during that short relief appearance and the Ducks’ preparation for a Canadian road trip, Stolarz suffered a lower-body injury and was placed on injured reserve.
With Stolarz out and a back-to-back on the slate, Dostál was recalled and made his season debut against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 12, stopping 35 shots in a 3-0 loss.
Gibson Appears in 400th NHL Game, Leaves with Injury; Eriksson Ek Recalled from San Diego
Speaking of Gibson, the netminder appeared in his 400th game on Dec. 13 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he was unable to finish the game due to an undisclosed injury. He stopped 25 of 27 shots before departing and he was replaced by Dostál, who stopped 10 of 15 shots in a 7-0 loss.
With both Gibson and Stolarz on the shelf, Dostál is now the incumbent starter and Olle Eriksson Ek was recalled from the San Diego Gulls to be his backup. Eriksson Ek was on the Ducks’ taxi squad during the 2020-21 season and was even recalled to be the backup at one point, but he has not yet made his NHL debut.
Jones Out with Injury
Max Jones is the latest Duck to suffer an injury, as he was a late scratch for their matchup against the Leafs with an upper-body issue. He also missed Dec. 15’s game against the Montreal Canadiens and the extent of his injury is unknown at this time.
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With Jones out, the Ducks have been rolling with 11 forwards and seven defensemen due to having no other extra forwards on the active roster.
Henrique Gets 200th Point as a Duck, Vatrano Snaps Goalless Streak
The Ducks’ win over the Canadiens was just their second regulation win of the season and it came alongside a pair of scoring achievements. Adam Henrique registered his 200th point as a Duck while Frank Vatrano got the monkey off his back and scored for the first time in 20 games, scoring the Ducks’ fifth goal and their second empty netter of the night.
Henrique has been a figure of consistency since being acquired from the New Jersey Devils in 2017. He has reached the 40-point mark in every season since being acquired by the Ducks, aside from the COVID-shortened season in 2020-21, and has been a double-digit goalscorer in every season of his Ducks career.
Related: Ducks’ Disastrous First 30 Games: By the Numbers
Henrique was placed on waivers during the aforementioned 2020-21 season but cleared and finished out the campaign with the Ducks. Now one of the veteran players on the team, he is one of the few who dons the rotating ‘A’ while the team waits on appointing a new captain following the retirement of Ryan Getzlaf this past summer.
It’s been slow going for Vatrano, who signed a three-year deal with the Ducks this past offseason. He hasn’t seen a shot he doesn’t like and currently leads the team in shots with 97.
Unfortunately, those shots haven’t amounted to many goals as the former New York Ranger had just four goals in 30 games before his empty-net tally against the Canadiens. The hope is that this goal will help jumpstart the rest of Vatrano’s season as he and the rest of the Ducks continue to figure things out in a season of discombobulation.
The Ducks wrap up their road trip with a Saturday matinee on Dec. 17 against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. After getting shutout in back-to-back games, the Ducks responded well with a win over the Canadiens. A tough task awaits them in Alberta before they return to Southern California next week to take on their division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 20.