Quack of Dawn: TST’s Ducks Morning Report

Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
The Sporting Tribune’s Derek Lee reports from the Ducks’ practice on Monday.

IRVINE, Calif. – The Ducks took to the ice Monday morning, coming off their comeback victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday. The win extended Anaheim’s winning streak to six games and halted Vegas’ point streak at 12 games.

Lines were predictably unchanged from last night’s game, with both John Gibson and Lukáš Dostál present as well in net.

Mason McTavish, who scored the game-winning goal with just under four minutes remaining in the third period, did so in his 100th NHL game.

“I was looking at it yesterday, I was kind of surprised. I didn’t realize—I saw I was at 97 (games) a couple games ago. It’s pretty cool. Hopefully I can get to 200 (games) next.”

McTavish’s game-winning tally was his second in the span of a week and his third in the last two weeks after he scored a dramatic shorthanded goal in the final seconds of the game against Pittsburgh last week and scored in overtime against Boston on Oct. 26.

“I feel like once you’re out there late in the period in a close game, that’s why you play the game. That’s the best time to be out there, you can help your team win—or lose, I guess.”

The 20-year-old was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week this morning for his performances: five points in three games en route to three comeback victories.

“I think it’s pretty cool. It’s never really anything you go into a season expecting stuff like that. The team has been playing really well. It’s been a lot easier creating offense. I’d say that’s the biggest factor.”

McTavish currently sports a 54.7 faceoff percentage (FO%), having won 76 out of 139 faceoffs thus far. Head coach Greg Cronin believes that McTavish should be unbeatable in the faceoff dot.

“He’s got a low center of gravity. He’s thick. He should be a faceoff machine.”

Cronin wants some of what McTavish has been doing in the faceoff circle to transfer to Leo Carlsson, who has struggled a bit early on in that aspect (16.7 FO%).

Oct 30, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Leo Carlsson (91) and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) take a face-off during the second period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Swede has acknowledged that he can and should be better in that area of his game and that some of it comes from not having taken draws regularly over the past couple of seasons in the SHL with Örebro.

“I suck at faceoffs at the moment,” he said. “It’s obviously hard when I’ve been a winger for the past three years, (but) no excuses there.”

Carlsson is likely to play tomorrow night against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a rematch of last week’s matchup in Pittsburgh. For the 18-year-old, it was a first-time opportunity to play against Sidney Crosby, a player that he grew up watching and looking up to.

“It was cool,” said Carlsson. “During the game, I was focused on the game. I didn’t really try to think about it too much. After the game, I was just happy that I could share the ice with him.”

Carlsson said that one level of Crosby’s game that he wants to get to is how good the latter’s puck protection is. “That’s obviously one of his strengths so that’s one thing that I want to be better at.”

“He’s got a pretty mature game for a young player,” said Crosby after the Penguins’ practice on Monday. “You can tell that he cares about playing both sides of the puck. He’s got a lot of poise, that’s probably one thing that stood out the most.”

The Penguins are coming off a 10-2 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks on Saturday and the Ducks will hope to prove a tougher test than their division foes up north. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM PST tomorrow.