What to Watch For: Pens vs. Ducks
Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 6:28 PM ET / Features
By Sam Kasan
PENGUINS (32-19-5) vs. DUCKS (23-24-9)
WHEN: Feb. 14 2012 - 7:00 pm | WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH: ROOT SPORTS | LISTEN: Penguins 24/7 Radio, 105.9 FM
The Anaheim Ducks are giving new meaning to the term “road trip.” The Ducks are playing a stretch of eight straight road games over a 15-day period.
The Ducks visited Detroit, Columbus and Minnesota before arriving in Pittsburgh for Wednesday’s contest with the Penguins (which is the second half of a back-to-back series for Anaheim).
|The Ducks are 16-11-5 since Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach on Nov. 30|
After opening the year with a 7-13-4 record, the second-worst record in the NHL at the end of November, head coach Randy Carlyle, who had led the team since 2005, was fired.
Taking his place is a familiar face to Pens fans. Bruce Boudreau, who himself was fired Nov. 28 by the Washington Capitals, was named to replace Carlyle Nov. 30. Boudreau has helped the team slowly turn its season around. The club is 16-11-5 under his leadership, which includes a ridiculous January record of 9-2-1.
Anaheim is led by long-time Duck and leading scorer Teemu Selanne. The 20-year NHL veteran (13 with Anaheim) has 18 goals and 51 points. Selanne has 1,391 career points, tying him with Brett Hull for 21st on the NHL’s all-time scoring list. He is three points shy of Luc Robitaille for 20th.
The Ducks have a trio of dynamic players in Corey Perry (see below), Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan. Getzlaf is a huge body (6-foot-4, 221 pounds) with great stick skills, smart hockey sense and on-target passing ability. He centers the top line with Perry and Jason Blake, a player that gives Penguins fans nightmares. Blake has 25 goals and 48 points in 50 games against Pittsburgh in his career.
The defensive corps is highlighted by Francois Beauchemin and Cam Fowler. Beauchemin is a minutes eater that plays in all situations. Fowler is a gifted 20-year-old blueliner in his second NHL season with Anaheim after being selected 12th overall at the 2010 NHL Draft.
“My Name Is” Jonas Hiller is in his fifth season with Anaheim, and he had the toughest start to a season in his career. The Swiss native’s save percentage (.906) and goals-against average (2.76) are both currently the worst of his career. However, since the coaching change, Hiller has been playing his best hockey. The 30-year-old netminder is 11-2-3 in his last 17 games while stopping 394-of-425 shots (.927%) and posting a 1.86 GAA.
DUCKS: COREY PERRY
Perry won the NHL MVP (Hart Trophy) and goal-scoring trophy (Maurice Richard) last season after posting 50 goals and 98 points. Perry notched his fifth career hat trick and registered 11 shots on net Sunday at Columbus. Perry is the Ducks’ most explosive goal scoring, pacing the team in goals (27) and power-play goals (12), while placing second in points (44). He’s scored four goals over the past three games.
PENGUINS: CHRIS KUNITZ
Kunitz has broken out in a big way over the last two games. He’s chipped in with seven points (2G-5A) and a plus-5 rating while helping the Pens to a weekend sweep over Winnipeg and Tampa Bay. While he’s been awarded with some point, Kunitz’s play away from the puck is what has made him so valuable. Whether it’s his speed, physicality or net crashing, he has a way of creating space for his talented linemates. .
The Penguins conclude a three-game homestand against the Anaheim Ducks (7 p.m.; TV: ROOT SPORTS; Radio: 105.9 the X) at CONSOL Energy Center in the only meeting of the season between the teams.
The Penguins enter tonight’s game having won six straight games at home dating back to Jan. 17. That ties their season-long streak from earlier this season (Oct. 20-Nov. 21). Only the Detroit Red Wings, who have won a NHL-record-tying 20 straight home games, have a longer streak.
During their six-game home winning streak the Penguins have outscored their foes in regulation, 25-19. They have scored four or more regulation goals in each of the last five games of the streak.
Pittsburgh is 11-2-1 in its last 14 games overall.
Pittsburgh is 5-1-1 in its last seven games against Anaheim.
The Penguins have won four straight games against the Ducks in Pittsburgh since Anaheim’s last win on Oct. 6, 2001 at Mellon Arena
This season the Penguins are 8-1-3 against the Western Conference, including a 3-1-1 mark at CONSOL Energy Center.
Since Jan. 1, the Ducks have posted a 13-3-3 (29 pts) record, tied with the NY Rangers for the second-best record in the NHL (Detroit has earned 31 points (15-4-1) and St. Louis has 28 points (13-3-2) since Jan. 1.
Anaheim has scored 58 goals in 19 games since Jan. 1 (3.05 per game), the third-highest mark in the NHL behind Nashville (3.22) and Boston (3.22).
Arron Asham skated with his teammates for the first time for a non-contact practice Tuesday. He's hoping to play as soon as this weekend with the team. Full scoop on Asham here.
Tyler Kennedy has a high-ankle sprain and is approx. 4-6 weeks for recovery. Kennedy sustained the injury late in the third period of Pittsburgh's game against New Jersey on Feb. 5.
F Arron Asham, illness/concussion-like symptoms (13)
C Sidney Crosby, concussion-like symptoms (29)
F Tyler Kennedy, high ankle sprain (3)
G Greg Ellis, groin tear (16)
Author: Sam Kasan