Adam Henrique

Ducks expect return to playoff form after disappointing year

2 Comments

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Cam Fowler are the only Ducks left from the last early summer in Anaheim.

The Ducks’ six-year streak of Stanley Cup playoff appearances has ended, but their veterans are determined to make sure this disappointment leads Anaheim right back to the postseason.

”It’s the worst thing to have to go out every night and know you’re not competing for a playoff spot,” Getzlaf said after the Ducks finished their worst regular season since 2012 with a 5-2 win over rival Los Angeles. ”We’ve got to build off of that.”

Before it all fell apart during a profound winter slump, the Ducks had won five Pacific Division titles and reached two Western Conference finals in a six-year span of consistent excellence. Anaheim clearly had more talent than its 35-37-10 record suggested, yet none of it mattered during a 5-21-4 midseason stretch that proved too large to overcome.

”This whole year has just been a roller coaster of emotions and new experiences,” said forward Jakob Silfverberg, who led the Ducks and hit a new career high with 24 goals.

The Ducks got off to another solid start to their season: After they beat Pittsburgh on Dec. 17, they sat comfortably in second place in the Pacific, just three points off the Western Conference lead.

Anaheim also finished strongly, racking up an NHL-best 23 points from its final 17 games (11-5-1).

In between was some of the worst hockey played by this franchise in the past 15 years.

Anaheim’s misery included a 12-game skid, a separate seven-game losing streak, seven shutout losses and individual defeats by scores of 6-2, 6-1, 9-3 and 7-4.

Coach Randy Carlyle was fired during that drought, and general manager Bob Murray moved behind the bench to examine his franchise up-close. With a few tweaks of their system and a fresh start, the Ducks returned to playing postseason-worthy hockey under Murray, including a 7-2-1 finish with the playoffs out of reach.

”The wins and losses down the stretch don’t mean a whole lot at this point,” Getzlaf said. ”But getting back to the way we wanted to play … in training camp next year, the guys in this room that are back will have a good idea of what we need.”

Barring major trades – which Murray has been historically reluctant to make – the Ducks could return with most of this season’s core, including stellar goalie John Gibson and a solid group of players near their prime including Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique, Ondrej Kase, Fowler and Hampus Lindholm.

The Ducks’ productive farm system also has another burgeoning crop of young talent, much of which got a chance to play late in this lost season. Forwards Troy Terry, Sam Steel and Max Jones all appear NHL-ready, along with defenseman Jacob Larsson and young trade acquisition Daniel Sprong.

Getzlaf and Perry are under contract for three more high-priced seasons apiece, and both contributed decently through injuries this season. But the Ducks must figure out what to do with Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves, two well-paid veteran forwards who have five months of rest and rehabilitation coming up after their careers were ground to a halt by health woes.

Murray also must replace himself as the Ducks’ coach. Dallas Eakins, the former Edmonton coach currently finishing his fourth year in charge of the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego, is thought to be the favorite.

The Ducks’ 5-1-1 finish to the season culminated with a comfortable win over their biggest rivals in a sold-out Honda Center. The players and their fans all expect to have much more to celebrate next spring.

”We’ve been playing pretty good lately, and we’ve been feeling pretty good in this room,” Silfverberg said. ”So I wouldn’t say it’s a shame, but it’s tough that it ends here. … We’ve had a good team all year. We had a team to compete against all the teams in this league, and if we play to our level, we can beat anyone. We have a bright future here, and we’re going to set our standards high for next year. We’re going to be a team that’s pushing hard for the playoffs.”

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

WATCH LIVE: Jets visit Ducks on Wednesday Night Hockey

Getty Images
1 Comment

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

With 10 games left to play in their season, Winnipeg leads Nashville in the Central and is in line for just the second division title in franchise history. The only time the franchise won their division was when they were the Atlanta Thrashers and won the Southeast Division in 2006-07.

Despite leading the division, Winnipeg has been a mediocre 12-11-2 over the last 25 games, with a minus-3 goal differential during that span.

More recently, however, the Jets have won three straight games, all by one goal, and look more like the team that reached the Western Conference Final last season. After defeating playoff contenders Boston and Calgary, Winnipeg snuck by Los Angeles on Monday 3-2. Kevin Hayes and Kyle Connor both scored, but the Jets blew their two-goal lead before Tyler Myers scored the eventual game-winner late in the second period.

Anaheim is in 14th place in the West and is all but assured to miss the playoffs, which will snap a streak of six straight seasons. That was tied for the second longest active streak in the league with Minnesota, who is still very much alive in the playoff hunt.

Despite their place in the standings, the Ducks have won back-to-back games and six of their last nine games overall. Five of those six wins have come against teams in the playoff hunt.

The Ducks are 9-9-0 since firing Randy Carlyle and replacing him with GM Bob Murray.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

WHAT: Winnipeg Jets at Anaheim Ducks
WHERE: Honda Center
WHEN: Wednesday, March 20, 10 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAMING: You can watch the Jets-Ducks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

JETS
Patrik LaineMark ScheifeleBlake Wheeler
Kyle Connor – Kevin Hayes – Nikolaj Ehlers
Brandon TanevAdam LowryBryan Little
Mathieu PerreaultAndrew CoppJack Roslovic

Joe MorrowJacob Trouba
Dmitry Kulikov – Tyler Myers
Ben ChiarotSami Niku

Starting goalie: Connor Hellebuyck

DUCKS
Nick RitchieRyan GetzlafDaniel Sprong
Corey PerryAdam HenriqueTroy Terry
Rickard RakellDevin ShoreJakob Silfverberg
Max JonesDerek GrantCarter Rowney

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson
Jacob Larsson – Cam Fowler
Jaycob Megna – Korbinian Holzer

Starting goalie: John Gibson

Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

NHL on NBCSN: Anaheim looking to build off recent success vs. Kings

Getty Images
1 Comment

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Battle of the Bottom Feeders will feature the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.

The Kings sit dead last in the Western Conference while the Ducks come in at the 14th spot, one better than their Sunday night foes. Both teams have struggled mightily to score this year, too, with Anaheim dead last with 156 goals for and Los Angeles only three tallies better at 159.

Still, the Ducks haven’t packed it in yet. They’ve won three of their past four outings after losing five straight and came off a monster 8-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday for their highest single-game goal count of the season.

The Canadiens started Carey Price in that game and the Ducks saw that as bulletin board material.

“They saved [Price] for tonight, so we took that as a challenge,” Adam Henrique said after the game. “You never want to be the team that somebody thinks they can come into your building and win.”

Ryan Getzlaf will be featured on Star Sunday for the Ducks. His team’s struggles have been mirrored in his own play this season, with no goals in his past 10 games and just two in his past 29.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

For the Kings, any win will be a welcomed change as they come into Sunday losers of 13 of their past 14 (1-9-4), including six straight.

This will be the first season since 2003-04 that neither of these teams has made the playoffs and the Kings haven’t won a playoff series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2014. Los Angeles has missed the playoffs in two of the past four seasons.

The addition of 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed a 3-year, $18.75M contract in July ($6.25M AAV), hasn’t panned out as intended. The Russian has just 30 points in 57 games this season (14 goals, 16 assists). He has just one goal in his past eight games.

Drew Doughty will be the Kings’ representative on Star Sunday. He’s second in the NHL averaging 26:50 time on ice per game this season. His plus/minus rating has seen a whopping 53 point swing this season, going from plus-23 last year to minus-30 this season.

Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Brian Hayward (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Anaheim.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blues go from coughing up lead to stunning win against Ducks

2 Comments

Note to self: don’t count out the St. Louis Blues. They reminded the Anaheim Ducks and the rest of the hockey world as much with a baffling 5-4 win on Wednesday.

Earlier this season, the Blues looked like they were bound for the draft lottery. Yet, with some strong play and the emergence of Jordan Binnington, they’ve turned their season around in a resoundingly dramatic way.

The Blues stormed out of the gate against the moribund Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, scoring three power-play goals to take a 3-1 lead a bit more than midway through the second period. Considering the Ducks’ lowly status right now, you’d think that it would be a matter of killing time.

Maybe things just can’t be that simple with St. Louis.

The Ducks scored two goals in a pretty short burst (15:39 into the second period, then the 3-3 goal 2:12 later), then Adam Henrique gave Anaheim a 4-3 lead about five minutes into the third period.

It looked like the Ducks might succeed in protecting that lead, as that 4-3 margin lasted through most of the period. Things escalated quickly in the late stages, however, as Robert Thomas scored his second goal of the game to make it 4-4 with 1:02 left, and then an Alex Pietrangelo effort went off of Henrique’s stick for the stunning game-winner just 12 seconds later.

In that span of 12 seconds, the Blues went from possibly receiving some “it was 3-1” trolling to winning the game, and not even needing overtime to do so. Remarkable.

For a while, it seemed like the story might be that Jordan Binnington is finally looking human. After all, Henrique’s then-go-ahead 4-3 goal was ugly.

Instead, the Blues pulled victory from the jaws of defeat, with might just end up being the motto of their 2018-19 season.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Ducks host Blues on Wednesday Night Hockey

Getty Images

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Blues remarkable turnaround since mid-January has them positioned to make the playoffs despite finding themselves in last place in the league on the morning of Jan. 3. St. Louis has struggled more recently, however, coming off back-to-back regulation losses to Carolina and Dallas.

Since the NHL’s Expansion Era (1967-68), only six teams have made the playoffs after ranking last in the entire League at any point after Jan. 1 (min. 20 GP). The only teams to accomplish the feat in that era: the 1976-77 North Stars, 1979-80 Oilers, 1982-83 Maple Leafs, 1987-88 Kings, 1987-88 Maple Leafs and 1996-97 Senators.

The Blues have one of the easiest upcoming schedules in the league in terms of lowest cumulative points percentage for remaining opponents and only have two remaining divisional games on the schedule (April 1 against COL and April 3 in Chicago).

It is highly unlikely that Anaheim will make the playoffs, thus ending their streak of six consecutive years in the postseason.

Cam Fowler (57G-206A—263 points in 605 GP) needs one point and three goals to tie Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer (60G-204A—264 points in 371 GP) for the most ever by a Ducks defenseman. Earlier this season Ryan Miller became the all-time leader in wins by a U.S.- born goaltender, passing John Vanbiesbrouck (374).

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: St. Louis Blues at Anaheim Ducks
Where: Honda Center
When: Wednesday, March 6, 10 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Blues-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BLUES
Brayden SchennRyan O'ReillyVladimir Tarasenko
Patrick MaroonTyler BozakRobert Thomas
Jaden SchwartzOskar SundqvistAlex Steen
Mackenzie MacEachernIvan Barbashev – Samuel Blais

Joel EdmundsonAlex Pietrangelo
Jay BouwmeesterColton Parayko
Vince DunnMichael Del Zotto

Starting goalie: Jordan Binnington

DUCKS
Kevin Roy – Ryan GetzlafCorey Perry
Rickard Rakell – Sam Steel – Jakob Silfverberg
Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueTroy Terry
Max JonesRyan KeslerCarter Rowney

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson
Jacob Larsson – Cam Fowler
Jaycob Megna – Korbinian Holzer

Starting goalie: John Gibson

Chris Cuthbert (play-by-play) and Brian Hayward (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.