The Anaheim Ducks are the NHL’s second-best team, sporting a 13-2-1 record.
The Los Angeles Kings sit 19th in the league, with a 8-6-2 mark.
Yet it’s the former that’s fired up to test itself against the latter on Monday night at the Staples Center in the latest edition of the Freeway Faceoff — just ask Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau.
“To me, it’s the ultimate test,” Boudreau told the Los Angeles Times. “They’re playing like they played in the playoffs last year. I watch every one of their games and they’re just flat-out good. And [Jonathan] Quick is good and he’s playing like he’s the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
“They’re as good a test as you’re going to find in this game today.”
The two teams have only met once this year, with Anaheim winning a 7-4 scoring bonanza that saw Quick get hooked after allowing two goals on his first three shots — he lasted just 5:49 all told — and Anaheim going 3-for-4 on the power play.
Also, the last game was marred by the Jarret Stoll hit on Cam Fowler, one that knocked the young defenseman out of action for eight games (he returned on Sunday in a 4-3 OT win over Colorado.)
The Kings started the season slowly but have picked things up as of late. Winners of their last three, they’ve outscored opponents 10-1 over that stretch and have only allowed eight goals over their last six games.
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.