The Anaheim Ducks continue a critical month of January on Wednesday night at Honda Center against a beleaguered Detroit Red Wings team. Although Detroit is coming off a gutsy come-from-behind win in the Centennial Classic, they’ve largely been a mediocre outfit since the start of the season, struggling to find any sort of consistency.
For the Ducks, a game against Detroit represents just one of the first steps in what will be a grueling January. They’ll essentially be playing every other night until the All-Star break, but things could be looking a lot brighter for them once they get to the other side of that gauntlet. Of Anaheim’s 13 remaining January games, nine will be against teams outside of the playoff picture. If there was ever an opportunity for an inconsistent Ducks team to find firm footing in the Pacific Division, this has to be it.
Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks
Honda Center – 7:30 p.m. PST
TV Broadcast Channels: FSDT, FSW
Radio Broadcast Channels: 830 KLAA
Detroit Red Wings: 16-16-5, 37 points
Road Record: 9-6-2
Hot Players: Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg
Key Injuries: Jimmy Howard, Mike Green, Johan Franzen, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Alexey Marchenko, Joe Vitale
Tomas Tatar-Henrik Zetterberg-Anthony Mantha
Gustav Nyquist-Frans Nielsen-Thomas Vanek
Riley Sheahan-Dylan Larkin-Luke Glendening
Drew Miller-Andreas Athanasiou-Steve Ott
Dan DeKeyser-Nick Jensen
Niklas Kronwall-Brendan Smith
Jonathan Ericsson-Xavier Ouellet
Jared Coreau (expected)
Ken Holland said week to 2 1/2 weeks for Abdelkader. Green, maybe after Cali. trip. Helm (dislocated shoulder) still couple weeks. #RedWings
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) January 2, 2017
Anaheim Ducks: 19-12-8, 46 points
Home Record: 11-4-2
Hot Players: Ryan Kesler, Rickard Rakell
Key Injuries: Simon Despres (LTIR), Nate Thompson (LTIR), Clayton Stoner (upper body, 4-6 weeks)
Andrew Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Joseph Cramarossa-Rickard Rakell-Corey Perry
Nick Ritchie-Antoine Vermette-Ondrej Kase
Logan Shaw-Chris Wagner-Jared Boll
Cam Fowler-Sami Vatanen
Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson
Korbinian Holzer-Kevin Bieksa
John Gibson (expected)
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] Anaheim will hit the ice without captain Ryan Getzlaf , who sustained a lower-body injury against Philadelphia on Sunday. The captain hasn’t quite been himself this season. His goal-scoring has continued to crater, though more concerning is the direction his even strength game has gone. Once a dominant player at five-on-five, Getzlaf is quickly fading in that category as well.
No Getzlaf on the ice at Ducks practice. Chris Wagner recalled.
— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) January 3, 2017
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] In a recent piece, Dimitri Filipovic revealed that the best teams in the National Hockey League rarely play from behind. Though that may seem obvious, it also revealed that playing in a lot of one-goal games probably isn’t a great sign for any team. The elite clubs tend to put games away early, something that Anaheim has struggled to do this season.
Wrote about ways to sniff out which teams are for real, which ones are lurking and which ones are barely hanging on. https://t.co/jvWs3WueKn pic.twitter.com/XB3Y3lrRIr
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 3, 2017
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Sure, the Wings are banged up, with the likes of Mike Green, Justin Abdelkader and Johan Franzen sidelined. However, head coach Jeff Blashilll may be overthinking his power play’s struggles. It was reported on Monday that Steve Ott, of all people, will see time on the man advantage. Ott’s made a career for himself as an agitator, but in his own words, “I’m not the answer by any means.” His 14 goals in the past four seasons would probably agree.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] Andreas Athanasiou is objectively a pretty darn good hockey player. Saddled with bizarre fourth line minutes, he’s still near the top of his team in both goals per 60 minutes and assists per 60 minutes. Blashill believes he needs some more of that mystical compete level to his game, and though there might be some truth to that (lackluster shot attempt differentials), it feels as if he’s needlessly strong-arming a very talented player.
Yes, they managed to escape with a win in their last game, but Anaheim was embarrassed in the process. They allowed a season-high 52 shots thanks to some dysfunctional defensive play. Carlyle certainly took notice of that, as he tore into his team during Monday’s practice. He was hired for his tough love approach, and he’s certainly delivering in that regard.
Randy Carlyle rips into Ducks during practice https://t.co/qh6JyCeEon
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) January 4, 2017
The Ducks are on shaky ground in the Pacific, so it remains to be seen whether Carlyle’s old-school approach is actually working. Wednesday night’s game against a mediocre opponent will be a pretty good litmus test.