The Anaheim Ducks came out flat after a relatively quiet trade deadline, falling 2-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night. They’ll get a chance to validate general manager Bob Murray’s confidence in them on Tuesday night as they face the suddenly burgeoning Nashville Predators.
Nashville, a popular Stanley Cup Final pick in the preseason, struggled to live up to those lofty expectations in the early going. The narrative has changed as of late, re-igniting some of that preseason fervor.
The Predators have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, thanks in large part to the white-hot production of Filip Forsberg, who’s notched 11 goals and 17 points in his last 13 games. That includes a stretch where he registered two natural hat tricks within a six-game stretch.
For the Ducks, a matchup against Nashville represents the first in what will be a difficult five-game stretch including Chicago, Washington and St. Louis twice. Anaheim has struggled as of late, embodied in the fact that they haven’t won consecutive games since mid-January.
A strong showing against a gauntlet of quality teams would go a long way to easing some angst in Anaheim, and perhaps propel them into a strong sprint to the finish line.
Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks
Honda Center – 7:00 p.m. PST
TV Broadcast Channels: PT25, FST
Radio Broadcast Channels: AM 830, 102.5
Nashville Predators: 32-24-9, 73 points
Road Record: 13-16-2
Hot Players: Filip Forsberg
Key Injuries: Miikka Salomaki, Ryan Ellis
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala – Mike Fisher – Craig Smith
Colin Wilson – Calle Jarnkrok – James Neal
Cody McLeod – Vernon Fiddler – Austin Watson
Mattias Ekholm – PK Subban
Roman Josi – Matt Irwin
Anthony Bitetto – Yannick Weber
Pekka Rinne (likely)
Anaheim Ducks: 33-22-10, 76 points
Home Record: 20-8-3
Hot Players: Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf
Key Injuries: Simon Despres (LTIR), John Gibson, Clayton Stoner
Andrew Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Patrick Eaves-Ryan Getzlaf-Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie-Rickard Rakell-Corey Perry
Logan Shaw-Nate Thompson-Jared Boll
Cam Fowler-Kevin Bieksa
Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson
Sami Vatanen-Brandon Montour
Jonathan Bernier (likely)
1) Clayton Stoner, once thought to be a potential trade chip for Murray at the deadline, has suffered a setback in his return from an abdominal injury.
Clayton Stoner has skated off and on the past month and confirmed he's been set back from abdominal surgery in December.
— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) March 4, 2017
Stoner, once the butt of many a joke, has turned himself into a decently reliable defenseman, posting some surprisingly solid possession numbers in the last two seasons.
2) John Gibson’s return to the Anaheim net remains at least a few games away. Randy Carlyle is learning what he has in Jonathan Bernier in the meantime, and the results aren’t staggering.
Was on ice today but did not practice with team. RC said too early to say if he'll go w/team to CHI-STL. https://t.co/YNi17UgHiq
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) March 6, 2017
Though Bernier only allowed two goals against Vancouver, both were of the head-scratching variety. A bobbled save led to the first goal, while wrist shot right through the five-hole led to the second.
The 28-year-old Quebec native has to elevate his game if he hopes to cement his NHL career past the current campaign, as he’s currently sitting on an unimpressive .905 save percentage.
3) After a lackluster start to the season, Nashville is beginning to look like the team that many expected them to be before it began.
Handicapping the Western Conference playoff race. Where do the Predators stand?https://t.co/5kXTzwc1Vs
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 6, 2017
Their shot metrics have been registering in the league’s top 10 in the last 25 games, which can bode very well for the postseason.
4) Much of the preseason excitement around Nashville’s roster was centered around their blue line, and they certainly haven’t disappointed in that regard.
When could Ryan Ellis return and P.A. Parenteau debut?https://t.co/c1Wj1mH7sA
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 6, 2017
They may be down one excellent puck-mover in Ryan Ellis on Tuesday though, as he suffered a lower-body injury in Montreal last Thursday.
The Ducks just can’t seem to string wins together as of late, while goals have also been hard to come by. The going won’t get any easier in the next five games, but maybe they show an ability to rise to the level of competition against Nashville on Tuesday night. That’s a big maybe.