Game Day Preview #15, Los Angeles Kings @ Anaheim Ducks
How many non-injured Ducks players can you name?
Preview: Los Angeles Kings (10-2-2) @ Anaheim Ducks (6-6-2)
How to Watch and What to Watch
Bad news for the Ducks:
INJURY UPDATE: Carlyle said Cam Fowler has a lower-body injury and will undergo a further assessment tomorrow.— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 21, 2017
Wait, no, not that bad news. This one?
Bob Murray's injury updates:— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) September 15, 2017
Kesler had an operation on his hip on June 8. There is "no timeline whatsoever" on his return.
No, that’s not it. This?
NEWS: Executive VP/GM Bob Murray said Ryan Getzlaf had surgery to repair a fracture to his zygomatic bone. Recovery could be up to 2 months.— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) November 7, 2017
Aw, heck, it’s almost all bad news for the Ducks. (They still have Corey Perry, I guess.) Scroll down to the lines below. Did you know half of those guys were on the Ducks before this very moment? Maybe not.
The Ducks have weathered all sorts of strange starts to their seasons over the years, particularly long, frequent bouts of their scorers not being able to find the back of the net. But with each of those starts, the shooting percentages began to rise as players found their grooves, settled in with new lines, and overall, the Ducks have always wound up being just fine.
This year, the Ducks’ problems are all injury-based, with Fowler, Getzlaf, Kesler, and Eaves out long-term. They’ve already dealt with injuries to Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Miller, who have now returned to the lineup. The injury bug has provided opportunity for younger players to shine, including defenseman Brandon Montour, who will be taking on a bigger role in the Ducks’ power play in the absence of Cam Fowler.
Of course, scoring’s still an issue for the Ducks. They’ve lost all three of their games in November and have only scored four goals over three games. No one has hit double digits in points yet (the Kings have six players who have crossed that mark). Rickard Rakell and Andrew Cogliano lead the team with nine points apiece; Rakell and Ondrej Kase share the lead for goals with just five each.
They’re fairly middle of the pack when it comes to scoring -- 27 goals at even strength, which ties them with Montreal, Philadelphia, and Detroit, all teams which aren’t exactly known for prolific scoring this season. But the real trouble lies on their power play, which is converting an abysmal 11.9%, good for 30th in the league. (Only the Columbus Blue Jackets are worse.) They’ve scored just five power play goals, which maybe shouldn’t be surprising given that they’ve lost so many top players to injury so far.
Of course, even a mediocre start to the season for the Ducks doesn’t mean that this game will be a piece of cake for the Kings. In a role reversal for the teams, the Kings are sitting at the top of the division (they have a three point lead on …. Las Vegas?!) while the Ducks are eight points back and currently well out of contention. Any expectation that this game might be calm and chill with Getzlaf and Kesler out is probably misplaced faith. (Don’t forget: Corey Perry.) And if the Kings can manage to get out to an early lead -- well, watch out.
That division lead for the Kings might be nice, but this is no time to get complacent. Giving the Ducks any points at all isn’t going to help the Kings down the road, so they need to start on time. (At least it’s not a matinee game.) Trying to play catch up has burned the Kings more than once -- coming back from that three goal deficit against Nashville was nice, but also a bit of a surprise, after watching the first two periods -- and it would be great not to repeat that.
I’m just going to assume right now that Kurtis MacDermid is going to get into (another) fight.
Although: it is the Ducks. Stranger players (Jeff Carter) have dropped the gloves (Jeff Carter) against them.
Does Tyler Toffoli have any career fighting majors? Does he want to start tonight? (I don’t advise this, Tyler, if you’re out there.)
Aside from Oscar Fantenberg drawing back in for Christian “hah you fell for that faked dump-in” Folin, don’t expect any changes on the Kings’ roster.
Place your bets on penalty minutes now, friends.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Kempe - Toffoli
Cammalleri - Shore - Lewis
Andreoff - Laich - Amadio
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
MacDermid - Fantenberg
Rakell - Grant - Perry
Cogliano - Wagner - Silfverberg
Ritchie - Vermette - Kase
Shaw - Rasmussen - Boll
Lindholm - Manson
Beauchemin - Montour
Vatanen - Bieksa
Opposing Preview: Anaheim Calling