The Anaheim Ducks continue to commemorate the career of Ryan Miller as they wind down the season. Their final series of the season against the St. Louis Blues resulted in a split between the two teams with the Blues taking the first game in regulation while the Ducks took the second game in the shootout.
TT, TZ & MC
The line of Troy Terry, Trevor Zegras and Max Comtois continues to impress ever since they were put together upon Zegras’ recall from the AHL. The trio has combined for five points and a plus-6 rating in the four games since Zegras returned to the big club. The 20-year-old is never one for lacking confidence but it’s clear that he is quite comfortable at the NHL level, especially now that he’s playing his natural center position.
Comtois and Terry have both had hot spells this season and it looks like head coach Dallas Eakins is trying to use this line to spur his offense. All three players should be part of the Ducks’ core moving forward and will be a line to watch next season.
Backes Returns to St. Louis
David Backes hasn’t played as much this season as he probably would have liked. The Ducks committed to making him a regular in the lineup this past offseason, but that changed rather quickly when they brought back Derek Grant.
Backes had only appeared in 14 games prior to last night’s game and it looks like he will miss out on making it to 1,000 games played in the NHL. With his contract expiring after this season, it’s unlikely that Backes will latch on with another team given his lack of speed at his age.
It’s an unfortunate end to what has been a prestigious career. Backes had quite a career with the Blues which spanned the course of 10 seasons. He still currently ranks top-10 in a plethora of Blues all-time totals, including games played and points. He received a show of respect from the Blues players as they all gathered to shake his hand following the conclusion of the game.
Anthony Stolarz tied a career-high mark for wins in a season last night after recording his fourth win of the year. He made 24 saves and stopped all three shots in the shootout. The netminder has been a nice find for the Ducks after signing with them prior to the 2019-20 season. The 27-year-old signed a two-year contract extension earlier this season.
A lot of credit goes to Ducks goaltending coach Sudarshan Maharaj, who has spent a lot of time working with Stolarz (from, ‘Ducks goalie Anthony Stolarz is ‘very easy to root for,’ but is he ready to back up John Gibson?’, The Athletic, 04/29/21).
Stolarz spent most of this season on the taxi squad and only got a chance to get games in when John Gibson went down with injury. He’ll likely be Gibson’s understudy next season and should play a lot more regularly than he did this season.
Closing it Out in Minnesota
The Ducks now head to Minnesota to face the Wild in their final two games of the season. Just two games ahead of the Buffalo Sabres for dead-last in the league, the Ducks could conceivably finish with the highest odds for the first overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft if they lose their last two games and the Sabres win both of their games.
The Wild have clinched their playoff spot but are still battling it out for the second seed with the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche are two points ahead of the Wild with a game in hand. This could be a crucial game for both teams for different reasons.
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.