The Anaheim Ducks have played the Arizona Coyotes three times this season, and all three times they’ve lost.
The Ducks’ most recent defeat at the hands of the plucky Desert Dogs — on Nov. 25 by a score of 4-2 — left head coach Bruce Boudreau to lament the “times we looked like we were brain dead.”
Those were not fun times for the Anaheim Ducks.
But, of course, that was then and this is now. And right now, there aren’t many hotter teams than Anaheim.
That’s why Boudreau is calling the fourth installment of Ducks-Coyotes, tonight at Honda Center, “the biggest game of the year” for his resurgent club.
“This team has kicked our butt three times,” he said. “We both know what [tonight] means.”
Anaheim enters on a five-game winning streak.
“We have a nice little streak going here,” said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. “Everything is better when you’re winning, and we want to keep it going.”
A regulation Ducks win would move Anaheim three points clear of Arizona for third spot in the Pacific Division.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, have lost three straight and have just two wins in their last nine. So tonight is a big game for them, too. A regulation win and they’d catapult the Ducks into a playoff spot.
The Philadelphia Flyers will be without Sean Couturier for approximately four weeks, the club announcing this morning that the 23-year-old center has a lower-body injury.
Couturier played just 11:35 in last night’s 6-3 victory in Nashville. He has nine goals and 15 assists in 40 games. He’s also one of the Flyers’ top possession forwards.
Which is to say, he’ll be tough to replace.
As far as candidates to take Couturier’s spot in the lineup, R.J. Umberger and Jordan Weal were healthy scratches against the Preds.
While GM Ron Hextall said he’ll consider alternatives…
…there’s no doubt this hurts the Flyers’ playoff chances, after three straight wins had lifted them to within four points of the second wild-card spot (with three games in hand on New Jersey).
“Coots is a big loss to our team, but we’ve got a bunch of guys here that believe in what we’re doing,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol told the Courier-Post. “Everybody’s gonna have to chip in and take a little bit of that slack. One guy’s not gonna step into that role and do it all. Everybody’s got to step in. We’re gonna keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep fighting and scratching and clawing and playing well.”
The Flyers host the Rangers Saturday, then play in Washington Sunday afternoon (on NBC).
Two days ago, we wrote about the Ottawa Senators and how they were quite bad defensively and how head coach Dave Cameron said they weren’t playing with any “pride” and how captain Erik Karlsson said they were a “budget team” that needed to “realize we’re a grinding team.”
Turns out it was a well-timed post, because the Sens lost 7-2 to Connor McDavid’s Oilers last night. One of the local newspapers called it a “disgraceful” defeat. Ottawa is now tied with the Blue Jackets for the highest goals-against average in the NHL (3.15).
And so the Sens had one of those closed-door meetings that struggling teams often have.
“We just had a little chat after the game,” defenseman Marc Methot told the Ottawa Citizen. “The only guys who can affect the outcome in the games coming up is the group in this room. We’re going to have to find it.”
This morning, there was another meeting…
Meanwhile, Karlsson reiterated his belief that the Sens will need to change their style in order to be successful. The two-time Norris Trophy-winner included himself in that:
Whatever has to change, the Sens best do it soon, because their chances of making the playoffs are slipping away. Since starting the season 18-12-6, they’re 5-11-0 in their last 16 and have fallen six points behind New Jersey for the second wild-card spot.
At least six surrendered in five Ottawa losses since Christmas
7-3 to Boston, Dec. 29
7-1 to Washington, Jan. 10
6-3 to New Jersey, Jan. 21
6-5 to Pittsburgh, Feb. 2
7-2 to Edmonton, Feb. 4
Predators coach Peter Laviolette didn’t blame his goalie, Pekka Rinne, for last night’s 6-3 loss to Philadelphia.
Instead, Laviolette blamed the players in front of Rinne.
“It’s difficult to fault him,” Laviolette told The Tennessean. “There was the first goal that was a breakaway. Our defensemen got picked at the blue line. Another one was a breakaway. It came off of (Shea Weber‘s) broken stick and a busted play. … Those were about the only two plays where we didn’t really make a bad defensive mistake.”
Still, the individual stat line was ugly. Rinne allowed six goals on just 19 shots. His save percentage now sits at .903.
How concerning is that?
Well, there are 26 NHL goalies who’ve had at least 25 starts, and nobody’s save percentage is lower than Rinne’s .903.
So, pretty concerning.
Whether it’s Rinne’s fault, or it’s the players in front of him, or it’s a combination of the two, it’s all a far cry from last season when Rinne was among the league leaders in save percentage, and a Vezina Trophy finalist to boot.
After winning four straight on the road in Western Canada, the Preds have dropped two in a row at home. They’re only one point up on Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the West.
And, oh by the way, here’s what they’ve got coming up:
Yannick Weber led all Vancouver blue-liners with 11 goals last season. According to his coach, he “made a big difference how he stepped up.”
Today, Weber will reportedly be placed on waivers, as the Canucks need to free up a roster spot before Dan Hamhuis returns to the lineup Saturday.
A pending unrestricted free agent, Weber has not enjoyed the same level of success this season. He has no goals and just five assists in 35 games. He has not been particularly good defensively either. And with the emergence of Alex Biega, he has not played a game since Jan. 14.
At the same time, with a cap hit of just $1.5 million, it would not be a huge surprise to see a team make a claim for the 27-year-old.