The Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks already have plenty in common this season.
Both have already experienced seven-game losing streaks through their first 10 games, but they’ve also shown recent improvement heading into their first meeting of the season on Thursday night in Vancouver.
The Ducks are riding a two-game winning streak for the first time this season, having defeated the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime on Sunday, and the San Jose Sharks 6-5 in a shootout on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game road trip.
“When you can bend and not break, and when you can learn to channel your emotions in the right direction, I think it’s a great learning experience,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of the narrow wins.
Vancouver experienced its first two-game winning streak last week, posting victories against the Seattle Kraken and Pittsburgh Penguins before having another setback and falling to the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Tuesday.
“We come off practice and we seem to accomplish what we want to accomplish all the time,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We work our (expletive) off in practice, it’s just, sometimes, it’s not correlating into the game and that’s the thing I don’t really understand.”
Boudreau pointed to one area in particular that needs improvement.
“We need our veteran guys and our better players to be our better players consistently, every day,” Boudreau said. “Not just one good game here and one good game there.”
Bo Horvat has been doing his part lately, scoring two goals in each of the past two games for Vancouver.
“Obviously, the puck’s going in right now,” Horvat said. “I’d rather be getting wins than scoring goals right now. I’d rather have none and be, obviously, 9-0, but it’s not the way it’s going right now.”
Horvat has also been one of the league’s better players in the faceoff circle, owning a 58.2 percent success rate.
That hasn’t translated into success for the Canucks, who are 22nd in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 48.5, while the Ducks are one spot ahead at 48.9.
“If Bo’s not winning them, we don’t have a lot of guys winning faceoffs,” Boudreau said.
The Ducks have been receiving solid play from some of their youngest players.
Troy Terry has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) through 10 games, and Trevor Zegras has scored six goals, but veteran Adam Henrique didn’t notch his first goal of the season until Tuesday night, when he scored twice in the win in San Jose.
Henrique had 19 goals in 58 games last season, and has scored at least 20 in two of his other four seasons in Anaheim.
“It certainly gets the monkey off his back,” Eakins said. “When he got that first one, the bench was loud. It wasn’t like just an ordinary goal, and then for him to grab another one, even better.”
Several other Anaheim players are still looking for their first tallies, however.
Isac Lundestrom, who scored 16 goals for the Ducks last season, has yet to hit the back of the net. Neither has Mason McTavish, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft who scored in his first NHL game last season.
–Field Level Media