Trade-deadline acquisition James Wisniewski will be a healthy scratch for the Anaheim Ducks when they open their first-round series tonight at home versus Winnipeg.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau explained his decision to park the veteran defenseman in the press box and go with a pairing of Clayton Stoner and Sami Vatanen instead.
“They have been teamed up all year,” said Boudreau. “Sami seems to play his best with Clayton, and now Clayton’s fully healthy, so I don’t see why he would lose his position. … I think those two have made a great pair together all year.”
The Ducks’ other defensive pairings are expected to be Hampus Lindholm with Francois Beauchemin and Cam Fowler with Simon Despres.
Related: For the Anaheim Ducks, it’s ‘time to step up’
Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau sent a message Tuesday by sitting Cam Fowler in the press box for an eventual 5-3 loss to Columbus.
Now, is he sending another message to another defenseman?
James Wisniewski, the Ducks’ big trade deadline acquisition, will be scratched tonight when Anaheim takes on Boston at TD Garden. The decision comes with Wisniewsky having played in just eight games for the Ducks, registering no goals, three assists and a minus-4 rating while averaging 20:38 TOI.
The 31-year-old is coming off his heaviest workload since joining the team, however. In the aforementioned loss to his old Blue Jackets squad, Wisniewski played 22:54 and led all Ducks d-men with 4:33 of power play time. That could be part of the reason why he’s out tonight; Boudreau also has defensemen at his disposal and enough healthy bodies to do some lineup tinkering. Simon Despres drew back in for the Columbus game, Korbinian Holzer has yet to make his Ducks debut and the club could always call on rookie d-man Josh Manson, who’s currently with AHL Norfolk but has looked good at times this season.
That said, it’s hard not to look at this healthy scratch as Boudreau sending a message, especially after what Fowler had to say about Tuesday’s scratch.
“With the luxury that we have with eight premium NHL defensemen, sometimes something like this is going to happen,” Folwer explained, per the O.C. Register. “It’s on the individual. It’s on myself. It’s because of my play recently. As hard as it is to say, it’s just the honest truth.
“So when you have guys that can step in any given night, you have to make sure that you bring your ‘A’ game or else something like this can happen. It’s a bit of a wake-up call for sure.”
The Anaheim Ducks might have first place in the Pacific Division all-but officially guaranteed at this point, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in going into the playoffs on a high note. Anaheim went as far as to scratch defenseman Cam Fowler tonight in response to their 7-2 blowout loss to the Rangers on Sunday, but that wasn’t enough as Columbus came away with a 5-3 victory over the Ducks.
Anaheim gained a 2-0 edge tonight, but Scott Hartnell led the Blue Jackets with Columbus’ first hat trick at Nationwide Arena since 2012. He started that run with a power-play goal at 15:35 of the first period.
Hartnell’s final goal came on an empty netter and while those tend not to be glamorous, he did have to work hard for this one:
Columbus forward Ryan Johansen also had a big night with his 24th goal and 39th assist of the season. He’s on a five-game point streak.
Anaheim will attempt to bounce back on Thursday in Boston. Given how badly the Bruins need a win after Ottawa passed them in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race, the Ducks should have their hands full in that contest.
Coming off a disastrous 7-2 loss to the Rangers in New York, Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau appears to be sending a message to one of his most important players.
U.S. Olympic defenseman Cam Fowler, who averages over 21 minutes a night and has 31 points in 73 games this year, looks as though he’ll be a healthy scratch tonight when the Ducks take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus, per the O.C. Register.
So what’s going on here?
Well, it’s clear the aforementioned Rangers loss irked Boudreau — “we looked more like No. 30 than we did No. 1,” he said — and Fowler had a rough night, on the ice for three of New York’s six even-strength goals. That said, he was getting regular shifts throughout the game and played more in the third period (7:03) than the first and second.
Boudreau also has defensemen at his disposal and enough healthy bodies to do some lineup tinkering. Simon Despres and Korbinian Holzer were scratched for Sunday’s game at MSG — it looks like Despres will draw back in tonight — and the club could always call on rookie d-man Josh Manson, who’s currently with AHL Norfolk but has looked good at times this season.
Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how this move affects Fowler moving forward. Still only just 23 years old, Fowler — the club’s first-round pick (12th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — is considered to be one of the cornerstones of Anaheim’s defense and was a huge figure last year, leading the team in average time on ice per game (at 23:52.)
The Anaheim Ducks have separated themselves from the pack by finishing strong for much of the 2014-15 season. They took the Western Conference lead by doing just that against the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.
Nashville carried a 2-0 lead into the third period, but the game flipped in a pretty staggering fashion.
Ryan Getzlaf scored the 2-1 goal a little more than two minutes into the final frame, but things really escalated several minutes later. Kyle Palmieri tied the game up 9:16 into the third period while Nate Thompson connected for the game-winner just 35 seconds later. One can assume that the Predators’ felt deflated once Cam Fowler scored a power-play insurance marker five minute later.
A matter of fatigue?
Perhaps Nashville ran out of gas to some extent? They were closing off a back-to-back set and a four-game road trip while Anaheim held home-ice advantage and were relatively well-rested.
Beyond the scoring, the stats make an argument in that regard, as the Ducks generated a 15-4 shot advantage in the third period after Nashville generated a 23-13 differential through the first 40 minutes.
Whatever explanation you want to trot out, the bottom line is that the Ducks won, and swept their season series in the process.
It’s also clear that teams shouldn’t take third periods lightly when they happen against Anaheim.
The Ducks now lead the NHL with 11 wins when trailing after two periods. They’ve also generated a remarkable goal differential in third periods, as they’ve scored 79 goals while only allowing 58.
One can debate if this all boils down to luck or if the Ducks seem to possess that “extra gear” – maybe Bruce Boudreau somehow stacks the deck so they tire opponents out late? – but either way, Anaheim sure is showing a remarkable tendency to close the deal.