If this is the end of the Bruce Boudreau era in Anaheim, then it is closing on a whimper.
The Ducks have been unable to score this season and that persisted in a troubling 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild tonight.
Already down 1-0 going into the second period, the Ducks were flat for the next 20 minutes. They managed just six shots on goal in that frame and committed four minor penalties. When the Ducks finally had a power-play opportunity towards the end of the second, Wild forward Ryan Carter poured salt in the wound by scoring shorthanded.
Not that Minnesota ended up needing that insurance tonight, just as the Wild wouldn’t have needed it against Anaheim almost any other night this season. Anaheim has only scored more than a single goal in a game once this season. Through seven contests, they’ve been shutout four times and have scored a total of six goals.
In fact, Minnesota was the only team that Anaheim has been able to beat so far and it couldn’t repeat that tonight.
So where do the Ducks go from here? Do they trust that coach Boudreau can guide the team out of this rut? After all, he has led the Ducks to three straight division titles and guided them to the Western Conference Final less than a year ago. At the same time, Anaheim is in win now mode and it doesn’t want to risk allowing these struggles to go on for so long that reversing the damage becomes a monumental task.
Montreal is trying to climb to a 9-0-0 record and part of that success can be attributed to the squad’s strong starts.
The Canadiens have scored first in eight of their nine contests, including tonight thanks to defenseman P.K. Subban‘s rocket shot to take advantage of a power-play opportunity. You can see him get that one by Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier above.
Toronto actually outshot Montreal 14-11 in the first frame, but it couldn’t get anything by Carey Price. Montreal has now outscored its opponents 8-0 in the first period this season.
Things tend to be more even for the Canadiens in the second frame, but they’ve also outscored the competition a commanding 14-1 in the third period.
The fact that Toronto is in an uphill battle tonight is apparent, but through 20 minutes the Leafs were not out of this game.
Antoine Vermette has managed to stay off the sidelines for the most part so far in his career, but tonight is an exception.
The 33-year-old forward isn’t playing for Arizona against the Ottawa Senators because of a lower-body injury. That’s brought his ironman streak of 482 consecutive regular season games to an end, per the Coyotes’ Twitter.
Vermette sustained the injury during Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers. He was originally listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s contest, but didn’t take part in the pregame warmups, according to the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan.
He signed with Arizona over the summer after the Coyotes dealt him to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Klas Dahlbeck and a first-round pick (Nick Merkley) in February. Vermette has no points in seven games this season.
The San Jose Sharks haven’t been able to contain their opponents without defenseman Paul Martin. Fortunately for them, he’s coming back.
Following a three-game absence due to a lower-body injury, Martin is set to retake his spot alongside Brent Burns tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“He really stabilized our defense early in the season when he was in there,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told the team’s website. “Not that we don’t have the people to get the job done when he’s not in there, but it’s nice having a veteran presence there. He just calms things down.”
While it seems extreme to attribute San Jose’s early success primarily to Martin or dismiss their recent struggles as a result of his absence, the difference between those two stretches are stark. San Jose is 4-0-0 while allowing just two goals with Martin in the lineup and it’s 0-3-0 while surrendering 14 goals without him.
Martin is playing in his first season with the Sharks after inking a four-year, $19.4 million deal.
Sean Couturier‘s upper-body injury will keep him out of tonight’s game against the New York Rangers, per CSN Philly.
It will be the first game he has missed after former teammate and current Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo‘s controversial hit on Wednesday. Rinaldo received a five-minute charging major and game misconduct for his actions, but the league felt it wasn’t worthy of supplemental discipline.
In Couturier, the Flyers will be missing a great defensive center. Sam Gagner will shift to his natural position of center for the first time this season as a result of Couturier’s absence.
As previously reported, Philadelphia has also called up Jason LaBarbera to serve as Steve Mason‘s backup tonight as goalie Michal Neuvirth also sustained an upper-body injury on Wednesday.
The silver lining for the Flyers was that they beat Boston in overtime for their third victory in four games. The Rangers have some momentum going into this contest too as they’ve won their last two contests.