Get your game notes: Ducks at Rangers

The red-hot Ducks visit the resurgent Rangers tonight on NBCSN, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— The Rangers and Ducks have the two longest road trips of the 2013-14 NHL season, among all teams. The Rangers began with a franchise record-tying, nine-game road trip (3-6-0 record, Oct. 3-26), while the Ducks will complete a season-high, eight-game road trip (4-2-1 record, Oct. 22-Nov. 4) tonight.

— The Ducks have not won at Madison Square Garden since Feb. 7, 2008 (0-3-0 since), the fourth-longest active drought by any NHL team at MSG, in terms of time duration. (Elias Sports Bureau)
1. Columbus Blue Jackets – Feb. 24, 2007 (six years, 253 days)
2. Phoenix Coyotes – Dec. 16, 2007 (five years, 323 days)
3. Los Angeles Kings – Feb. 5, 2008 (five years, 272 days)
4. Anaheim Ducks – Feb. 7, 2008 (five years, 270 days)

— The Ducks rank fifth in the NHL in goals/game (3.27). However, of their 49 goals, a league-high 42 have come during five-on-five situations. Their special teams have been far from special: they have converted on only four of 58 power play opportunities (6.9%), which ranks last in the NHL, and have killed off only 36 of 49 opportunities on the man-disadvantage (73.5%), which ranks 2nd-worst.

— The Rangers fired a combined 84 shots on goal in their last two games (46 in a 2-0 shutout of Buffalo on Oct. 31, and 38 more in a 5-1 victory over Carolina on Nov. 2). The last time the Rangers had more shots on goal in a two-game stretch was Dec. 23-27, 2010, when they had 89 combined.

— Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, the Ducks’ Corey Perry is one of only two players with at least 200 goals (228) and 500 penalty minutes (750) during that span. The other is the Hurricanes’ Eric Staal (260 goals, 509 penalty minutes), whose younger brother Marc will have the task of stopping Perry tonight.

— Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello assisted on all three of Derek Stepan’s goals in the Rangers’ 5-1 win vs. Carolina on Saturday. The last time the same three players accounted for all the points on a hat trick was Feb. 27, 2013, when the Ducks’ Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf assisted on all three goals scored by Kyle Palmieri, in a 5-1 win vs. Nashville. (Elias Sports Bureau)

— Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (47 shutouts in 521 games) needs two blank sheets to tie Ed Giacomin (49 shutouts in 538 games) for the franchise career mark. Since his rookie season (2005-06), Lundqvist has the most shutouts (47) in the NHL (Martin Brodeur – 46, Roberto Luongo – 41).

— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau ranks second among all active NHL coaches, in terms of points percentage, i.e. total points won divided by maximum two points per game. (Minimum 100 games.)

1. Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh, 449 pts./334 games (668 maximum pts.) = .672 points%
2. Boudreau, Washington/Anaheim, 593 pts./450 games (900 max pts.) = .659 points%
3. Todd McLellan, San Jose, 511 pts./390 games (780 max pts.) = .655 points%
4. Mike Babcock, Anaheim/Detroit, 1,019 pts./801 games (1,602 max pts.) = .636 points%

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, Montreal/Vancouver/N.Y. Rangers, ranks tenth on the list among actives, with 952 pts./819 games (1,638 max pts.) = .581 points%

Stepan: ‘I’ve stunk since the playoffs started’

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Derek Stepan knows he’s not playing very well, and he knows he’ll have to be better if the New York Rangers are going to make it past the Ottawa Senators.

With just one goal (an empty-netter) and one assist in seven playoff games, Stepan’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff after a respectable 55-point regular season, which included 38 assists.

“I’ve stunk since the playoffs started,” Stepan said, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “I’ve been not very good with the puck.”

An all-situations center, Stepan is more than just an offensive type. But he’s produced in previous playoff runs, and the Rangers need him to produce now — especially against a tight-checking Sens team that boasts a 2.00 goals-against average in these playoffs.

Stepan has 45 points (18G, 27A) in 92 career playoff games.

To be fair, he’s not the only Ranger who needs to get going offensively. One of the Blueshirts’ big strengths during the regular season was their balanced scoring, with all four lines contributing — and that’s not happening right now.

No Bieksa for Anaheim tonight, but Vatanen could return

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The Ducks will be without their most veteran skater on Friday as they look to even up their series with Edmonton.

Kevin Bieksa, who exited Game 1 with a lower-body injury following a collision with fellow d-man Shea Theodore, has been ruled out for tonight’s Game 2. It marks the first tilt the 35-year-old will miss this postseason.

Bieksa was enjoying a pretty good playoff prior to getting hurt. He racked up four assists in five games, while averaging just under 17 minutes per night. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is holding out hope Bieksa could return later in the series.

While this is a loss for the Ducks, it goes a long way in illustrating how much defensive depth they have.

While Carlyle wouldn’t confirm, all signs point to Sami Vatanen drawing in for Bieksa. Vatanen has been out since Game 1 of the Calgary series with an upper-body injury, but has resumed practicing and sounds like he’s ready to go.

“It’s always nice when a player is closer to coming back and you can potentially put them back in the lineup,” Carlyle said of Vatanen.

Anaheim dressed a blueline of Bieksa, Theodore, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat. If Vatanen can’t draw in for Bieksa, the club still has Korbinian Holzer in reserve.

 

 

Ducks say they’ve allowed Draisaitl too much freedom, too much fun

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Given the nicknames bestowed on Leon Drasaitl recently — the German Gretzky, Certified Duck Killer — it’s safe to assume the big Oilers forward is having a pretty good time.

That’s something Anaheim wants to put to an end, starting tonight.

“He’s a power forward and we’re allowing him too much freedom. He’s having too much fun,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told the Journal, after Drasaitl went off for four points in Wednesday’s series-opening win.  “I don’t know how I can put it any simpler.”

The 21-year-old has made a habit of tormenting Anaheim this season. He has goals in five of seven career games at the Honda Center and, in his last 11 tilts versus the Ducks, has racked up an whopping 17 points.

Coming into this second round series, most of the focus was on how Carlyle and company would shut down Connor McDavid.

But now it appears they have another matchup issue on their hands.

Carlyle’s most logical choice is to put out the Ryan Kesler line against McDavid, given Kesler’s stout defensive play and ability to shut down opposing centers. But in terms of straight matching, that puts plenty of responsibility on Kesler’s wingers — especially Andrew Cogliano — to deal with Draisaitl. He has good size (6-foot-1, 216 pounds) and has been bolstered by McDavid’s playmaking ability.

As such, there’s a fascinating game-within-a-game to watch this evening. Carlyle has the benefit of last change. The forward matchups will be worth monitoring, but so will the defense — veteran blueliner Kevin Bieksa is doubtful after exiting Game 1 with a lower-body injury, but Sami Vatanen could return after sitting out since Game 1 of the Calgary series.

 

 

Canucks could really use Patrick or Hischier

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The Vancouver Canucks are hoping for better luck in tomorrow’s draft lottery. If they receive it, they may get a player who can step right into their lineup, and stay there for years to come.

The top two picks in the 2017 draft are expected to be centers Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier.

It remains to be seen who will go first overall. Patrick was the consensus pick for a while, but Hischier started to gain ground with an impressive showing for Switzerland at the World Juniors.

“I think the top two players in this draft have the potential to maybe step in and play next year and be productive players at the NHL level,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning. “But I think the next three players, whether you’re looking at a play-making center, or potentially a power-play defenseman, there’s good choices there too.”

Gabe Vilardi, Casey Mittelstadt, and Cody Glass are centers the Canucks could select if they fall out of the top two. Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen, and Timothy Liljegren are options on defense.

But getting Patrick or Hischier would be a huge win for a team that will soon have to replace Henrik Sedin, who turns 37 in September.

Benning says Patrick offers a combination of size (6-3, 198), skill and hockey sense, with “no real weakness in his game.”

As for Hischier, it’s his speed that really stands out.

“He’s built for today’s game,” said Benning. “His speed going through the neutral zone is fun to watch.”

The Canucks have the second-best odds to win the draft lottery. The furthest they can fall is to fifth.

Last year, Vancouver fell two spots from third to fifth, with Winnipeg and Columbus moving up. The Canucks drafted Finnish defenseman Olli Juolevi with their selection.

Draft lottery odds

Colorado Avalanche 18.0%
Vancouver Canucks 12.1%
Vegas Golden Knights* 10.3%
Arizona Coyotes 10.3%
New Jersey Devils 8.5%
Buffalo Sabres 7.6%
Detroit Red Wings 6.7%
Dallas Stars 5.8%
Florida Panthers 5.4%
Los Angeles Kings 4.5%
Carolina Hurricanes 3.2%
Winnipeg Jets 2.7%
Philadelphia Flyers 2.2%
Tampa Bay Lightning 1.8%