What we learned from the Ducks’ 3-1 victory over Dallas on Sunday:
Even though the Ducks have won five of their last six games, some of their players -- and Coach Bruce Boudreau -- have been a little uneasy as Monday’s NHL trade deadline nears. The witching hour arrives at noon PST; the Ducks will be in Arizona, which is on Mountain Standard Time and is an hour ahead. They have rescheduled their practice to begin after the deadline passes.
“When we’re practicing on the ice at 1 o’clock, it will be done and we’ll be going, ‘Boys, this is our team.’ And that’s always a relief to everybody,” Boudreau said. “You could see the angst in everybody’s eyes the last couple days, ’What’s going on?’ They all know that there’s so many deals at the trade deadline and we’ve obviously made a couple. The sense of relief, I think, is going to be great.”
The Ducks have made two trades in the past week, acquiring left wing Jiri Sekac from Montreal and left wing Tomas Fleischmann from Florida. Those moves should more than make up for losing left wing Matt Beleskey on Feb. 15 to a shoulder injury that was expected to sideline him from two to four weeks.
Beleskey, incidentally, is a pending unrestricted free agent who hasn’t come to terms with the Ducks on a new contract and was enjoying a career season with 21 goals before he was hurt. Do the Ducks trade him Monday? Continue their efforts to sign him and risk losing him without compensation this summer?
The Ducks had been looking at defensemen even before Sami Vatanen hurt his knee Feb. 15, and the initial projection for his return was four to six weeks. However, a number of defensemen could be off the table following a remarkable flurry of trades made the last few days. To get an impact player who isn’t a rental, the Ducks might have to trade a prospect or someone off the roster, and it’s not clear how far they’re willing to go. But they won’t trade prospect Shea Theodore for a rental player.
We learned that goaltender John Gibson, who stopped 39 shots Sunday in making his ninth consecutive start, impressed Boudreau quite a bit.
“He looked like he didn’t want to give up the net anytime soon, which is when you have competition, which is what was going on before he got hurt,” Boudreau said of Gibson and Frederik Andersen. “They’re both very competitive goalies but you sort of like to see that.”
Boudreau did say Gibson’s streak likely will end soon because the Ducks must play back-to-back games, at Glendale, Ariz., on Tuesday and at home on Wednesday against Montreal. “I’ve got to believe each play one and we’ll reevaluate everything,” Boudreau said.
We learned that Fleischmann doesn’t anticipate problems in adjusting to his new team because what he has seen and heard so far resembles Boudreau’s approach in Washington, where Fleischmann previously played for him. Fleischmann skated in warmups Sunday but didn’t play; he’s scheduled to participate in his first full practice with the Ducks on Monday in Arizona.
“I’m just excited to play for him again. I know what he can do. We won the Calder Cup together,” Fleischmann said, referring to the American Hockey League’s championship trophy. “I’m just looking for same thing to do it here.
“He’s a good player coach and you always like to play for him. That’s one of the reasons.”
Fleischmann watched the game closely and saw many familiar bits of strategy.
“It looks really similar to what we played before,” he said. “I’ve got to go over the system. I think it’s going to be similar to what we played before and maybe it’s going to be easier for me to transition.”