In their final season series against the San Jose Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks showcased their offensive abilities as they outscored the Sharks 8-1. Anthony Stolarz was the star of the show, and 16 different Ducks earned a point during the two-game series.
Stolie the Goalie & Alexander the Great Shine Again
Stolarz was feeling it on Monday night. His 46 saves led the way in the Ducks’ shutout win against the Sharks, and the goaltender was back in net on Wednesday night. He was 2:11 away from back-to-back shutouts, but an Erik Karlsson shot from the point nixed that.
It’s been quite a tumultuous season for Stolarz, as he has spent most of the season on the taxi squad. That means that while he does partake in team practices with the Ducks, he wasn’t getting any playing time for both them and the San Diego Gulls in the AHL.
That’s changed recently. With John Gibson struggling to stay healthy and Father Time looking to be a factor for backup Ryan Miller, Stolarz has stepped into the starting role. In four appearances (three starts) this season, Stolarz is 2-1-0 with a .939 save percentage (SV%) and 2.17 goals-against average (GAA).
Locked down to a two-year contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $950,000 following this season, Stolarz has a good shot at being Gibson’s understudy next season. With Miller becoming an unrestricted free agent this offseason, there’s a good chance that the 40-year-old hangs up his skates once the season concludes.
Alexander Volkov wanted out of Tampa Bay so he could play more regularly. He’s done that since arriving in Anaheim via trade on March 24 and hasn’t looked back. The Russian has four goals in seven games–three of those came in this series against the Sharks. It doesn’t seem to matter where Volkov slots in the lineup; he scored all of his goals this series while skating on the fourth line.
Volkov will be a restricted free agent this offseason, but it’s likely that the Ducks will retain him, especially given the hot start to his Ducks’ career. There will be a glut of forwards competing for lineup spots next season, but Volkov will have an upper hand if he continues his good form.
Return of the Captain
After sitting out the first game of the series with a sore back, Ryan Getzlaf returned for the latter half of the series and did so with a bang. Getzlaf notched his fourth goal of the season off a nifty feed from Troy Terry. There’s been a lot of talk about him recently following the conclusion of the trade deadline. The captain did, of course, remain with the Ducks through the deadline, though there was no absence of suitors, most notably the Vegas Golden Knights.
Getzlaf’s eight-year, $66 million contract expires this offseason, and his future with the Ducks beyond this season remains a mystery. The upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft also looms, and though the Ducks won’t need to protect Getzlaf given his impending free-agent status, there’s always the small possibility that Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis and his staff take a good, long look at the veteran as a possible addition to their team.
Fleury Debuts, Grant Gets a Goal in Game 300
Trade deadline acquisition Haydn Fleury made his Ducks debut and was paired with veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Fleury had just under 19 minutes of ice time and had an even plus/minus with a shot on goal. He spent the latter end of the game partnered with Andy Welinski as head coach Dallas Eakins opted to pair Shattenkirk and Cam Fowler together to finish out the third period, but the 24-year-old was also part of the second penalty-killing unit and didn’t look out of place.
Several Ducks players have reached milestones over the past several weeks, and Derek Grant was the latest, playing in his 300th game. The forward marked the occasion with a goal, the Ducks’ second of the game.
Prior to his time with the Ducks, Grant was an NHL journeyman who hadn’t even scored his first NHL goal yet. 182 games and three seasons later, Grant is in his fourth stint with the Ducks and has found a home in Orange County. The three-year deal that he signed this past offseason was a testament to how much general manager Bob Murray values having a player like Grant on the team.
O Golden Knight
The Golden Knights come to town for their final two-game series of the season against the Ducks. The Ducks’ struggles against the Golden Knights have been well documented, as they are 3-10-4 against the team from Sin City. With a record of 1-2-2 against them this season, the Ducks have fared better than in past seasons.
Old friend Shea Theodore has been a catalyst behind the Golden Knights’ current four-game winning streak and has done some of his best work against the team that drafted him. Keeping him quiet should limit most of the Golden Knights’ offensive production from the blue line.
Derek has been a hockey fan for almost a decade and has been a sports fan in general for more than two decades.
He graduated from UCCS in Colorado Springs, CO in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication. He spent the last several years as part of UCCS’ on-campus student newspaper staff (both as a reporter and editor) and is now creating Ducks-related content from his home in Southern California.