The second half of this week’s edition of Anaheim Ducks News & Rumors focuses on the return of Rickard Rakell, the continued rise of Trevor Zegras and a terrific goaltending performance from Anthony Stolarz.
Rakell on Fire Since Return From Injury
Since returning from injury, Rakell has scored points in each of the three games he’s played in. A goal and an assist on Friday against the Ottawa Senators gave him four points in three games since his month-long layoff with an upper-body injury. His return has allowed Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins to keep Zegras and Sonny Milano together and complement them with another scoring wing in Rakell.
Nic Deslauriers had spent the past several games on the Zegras line, but Adam Henrique’s absence on Wednesday meant that there was a bit of line shuffling to be done. Henrique returned for Friday’s game and took his customary spot on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Troy Terry. With Henrique and Rakell manning the top six, Deslauriers dropped down to the fourth line, playing with Derek Grant and Sam Carrick.
With Max Comtois struggling this season and now on injured reserve, the Ducks have had to rely on other sources for goals. Terry’s breakout campaign continued with another goal against the Senators — after he was held scoreless the previous two games — and the combination of Zegras and Milano has become an offensive godsend. But Rakell’s return to form after a subpar 2020-21 season would be a welcome sight.
Zegras Second in Rookie Scoring
Zegras is racking up points on the ice and interviews off the ice. After his terrific performances last week, the Ducks phenom jumped to second among rookies in scoring with two assists during the Ducks’ Black Friday matinee against the Senators. He now has 14 points in 19 games and nine points in his last six games.
Zegras’ chemistry with the aforementioned Milano has created two exceptional scoring lines for Eakins to deploy and Zegras should also continue to see time on the Ducks’ first power-play unit. Having played in only 24 games last season, he is still eligible to win the Calder Memorial Trophy. Though he may not be the current frontrunner, there’s a good chance that he could be at the top of the lot by the end of the season.
Stolarz Shuts Down Senators
It’s been three weeks since Stolarz’s last start, a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. A goal with eight seconds remaining in the third period ruined what was otherwise a solid performance from the netminder, but he would achieve the elusive shutout in yesterday’s matinee event.
Being the understudy to John Gibson can be quite a battle of mentality, as starts come few and far between. But Stolarz has been up for the task. His brief eight-game cameo last season was enough to convince the Ducks’ brass that he deserved the backup goaltender spot — and he was also rewarded with a new contract.
Stolarz’s ability to maintain focus with such a long break in between each start will be tested to the fullest. His record on the season now stands at 2-2-1 with a .930 save percentage and 2.39 goals-against average.
The Ducks have been on a streak-snapping agenda lately, with their eight-game winning streak coming to an end last week and Terry’s point streak coming to an end on Monday. The Ducks then snapped their three-game losing streak with their win yesterday and will look to begin a new winning streak come Sunday night when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Derek has been a hockey fan for 10 years and 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 and spent the last several years as part of UCCS’ on-campus student newspaper staff–both as a reporter and editor. He is now creating Ducks-related content from his home in Southern California.