What we learned from the Ducks’ 2-1 victory over New Jersey on Sunday:
Frederik Andersen and John Gibson are staging a friendly goaltending competition and pushing each other to new levels of excellence as they vie to be the playoff starter.
After Andersen allowed two goals in wins at Boston and Long Island, Gibson did him one better by allowing only one goal Sunday at New Jersey.
“He played a hell of a game. We gave up too many quality scoring chances and he stood on his head tonight,” right wing Corey Perry said. “I’m sure he feels good about it and I know we all feel that’s his type of game and he can do that, night in night out.”
If Andersen can do the same, so much the better for the Ducks. “It’s a great battle to have,” Perry said. “They’re playing at the top of their game and they’re battling and that’s all we can ask for. You’d rather have 1A and 1B rather than 1 and 4. It’s a good thing right now.”
Gibson said he and Andersen aren’t trying to one-up each other.
“We’re just trying to help the team win,” he said Sunday after his 26-save performance against the Devils. “If both of us are playing our best we have a good shot to go far, and I think that’s what both of us are trying to do, play our best and help the team win.”
Ryan Kesler continues to do exactly what the Ducks acquired him for, giving them the kind of depth at center to match up better with teams like the Kings that have been strong up the middle.
Kesler on Sunday reached the 20-goal mark for the seventh time in his career while also winning 12 of 19 faceoffs and blocking a shot. He has 47 points this season and has played all 78 games.
“When I’m scoring, when I’m playing my game that’s when I’m most successful,” he said. “It’s an accomplishment but team success is more important at this point.
“It’s nice to get on the score sheet but those two points and having this become a winning road trip was more important.”
Boudreau will continue to juggle the lineup, though he’s not sure if he will rest any veterans because the Ducks have only four games left before the regular season ends on April 11. On Sunday defenseman Clayton Stoner was scratched because of a nagging injury and left wing Matt Beleskey was pulled after the warmups mostly as a precaution, because of a lower-body injury. Boudreau said he didn’t think either injury was serious.
Boudreau also said he had spoken to General Manager Bob Murray about whether to rest some players who have had heavy workloads but was leaning against it based on his experience in 2009-10, when he coached Washington to the best record in the NHL and the Presidents’ trophy only to lose to Montreal in the first round of the playoffs.
“More times than not, it doesn’t work,” Boudreau said. “That year we won the Presidents’ [trophy] we made a whole bunch of trades at the trade deadline because we thought we were going to need depth because we were going a long way in the playoffs, and what we found out was everybody was a good player that we got and nobody wanted to sit out. So they were playing nervous because they didn’t want to sit out, and the ones that were sitting out weren’t happy. So it didn’t work out.
“The idea is great. And we’ve got four games in 14 days or whatever. It’s almost you want to keep them sharp. If this was nine games we played in 14 days and everything was the same as it was points-wise, then I think you’re talking a different ballgame. But with four games it’s tough because if say you sit out Kesler two games that means he’s only played twice in two and a half weeks and it’s more rusty than anything else.”
Not so presidential
Winning the Presidents’ Trophy isn’t a priority for the Ducks.
“We just want to finish the season strong and go into the playoffs on a high note,” Kesler said.
Boudreau also said he didn’t care about that specific piece of hardware.
“I’d like to be as high as we can,” he said, “but the idea of having at trophy for winning the regular season, I’ve been there as part of a team that did that and we lost out in the first round so it really didn’t mean much at the end of the year.”