ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Ducks are looking to bounce back tonight against the Buffalo Sabres at home after being outscored 5-13 and allowing a combined 98 shots on goal in their last two games.
“There’s absolutely nothing that we can do now about our last game and the game before that,” said head coach Dallas Eakins after morning skate. “There’s actually there’s not a whole lot of good that we can take from—I guess the Vegas game we were alright for a couple of periods—but it just goes back to the one thing we’ve been good at is having a neutral mindset coming in today.”
Defensive breakdowns were at the heart of Anaheim’s poor performances over the weekend and they need to ensure it doesn’t continue for a third consecutive game. Eakins preaches having a mindset of hope over one of regret because “the regret one will get you in a whole lot of trouble really fast.”
A pair of Swedes in Isac Lundestrom and John Klingberg will try to help lead the charge. Klingberg has five points in his last five games while Lundestrom has three points in his last three games.
“Just playing hockey,” said Klingberg when asked about what’s been the key to his recent success. “I think it’s just getting used to a different system and it was a lot harder to come to a new team and an organization than I thought it would be.”
“Obviously, I didn’t have the start that I wanted and the team didn’t either. Then you get frustrated (and) probably try to do a little bit too much, so I think Christmas break came pretty good for me—a little bit of a mental reset—and (we) just build from there.”
“I got extra padding on my finger,” said Lundestrom, who returned from a fractured finger just about a month ago. “It’s a little bit different but I still feel good enough to play hard and give everything every night. (My) finger’s getting better and I’m feeling my legs getting along better too (with) the more I play.
Lundestrom is one of the players who’s seen an increased role with Eakins switching up the lines of late. He was on a line with Frank Vatrano and Max Jones on Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights but found himself with Jones and Silfverberg for Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday’s morning skate.
“Yeah of course it’s a little bit different but I don’t mind (playing) with anyone,” he said. “I think (the coaching staff) knows that and (they) can put me with almost anyone and I try to figure that out. It’s been different lineups but it’s still working pretty well (with) whoever I play with.”
An important factor in taking down the Sabres––whom the Ducks lost 6-3 to last month––will be to limit penalties. Buffalo currently ranks fifth in the entire league in power play percentage (25.27%). For an Anaheim penalty kill that ranks bottom-5 in the league at with a 73.8% penalty kill percentage, staying out of the box is key.
“Yeah, we gotta stay out of the box for sure,” said Lundestrom. “We know they have a lot of good players and a dangerous shot on the flanks too. We’ve got to stay out of the box and when we get to the penalty kill, we’ve got to play hard and block the shots.”
“The best way to kill penalties is to not have to kill them,” said Eakins. “You do your best to stay out of the box. I think you’ve got to be really disciplined. I think the places we get ourselves into trouble penalty-wise are at the end of long shifts (and) bad changes, usually on back-to-back nights when we’re mentally tired. We’re not mentally tired (right now), but we certainly don’t want to see their power play because you’re right, it is very very dangerous.”
John Gibson was the first goaltender off the ice for Anaheim this morning and is expected to start his third consecutive game tonight.