Nick Bonino has provided important intel to the Vancouver Canucks this season, contributing to scouting reports that have helped his new team get four points in three games against his ex-team, NHL points leader Anaheim.
“The first game, [assistant coach] Doug Lidster was doing the pre-scout, so he came to me and [former Ducks defenseman Luca] Sbisa and had us put together a little list of things -- keys to beating them,” Bonino said Tuesday after his team’s morning skate at Rogers Arena. The Ducks and Canucks will play there later Tuesday; they have had overtime/shootout games in three previous meetings this season.
Bonino laughed through those obvious tips, but admitted there were more detailed tidbits he thought proved valuable in a Nov. 9 shootout win at Honda Center, in which he scored the decisive goal in the bonus session.
“There were a few tendencies we know about guys, maybe goalies, that we can help with,” Bonino said. “Maybe it got us that win.
“They don’t have many weaknesses. I don’t think any team in this league has an Achilles' heel you just have to exploit to win, but little things systems-wise if you know their systems. Let the coaches know, and maybe they can figure out a game plan.”
Bonino, 26, sent from the Ducks in exchange for center Ryan Kesler in June, has contributed 10 goals and 14 assists for the Canucks (26-16-3), who are just one point behind second-place San Jose in the Pacific Division.
He scored six goals and nine points in a nine-game span between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6, then scored just one goal between Nov. 8 and Jan. 3 to become completely aware of the extremes of attention in this hockey-crazed city.
“None of that matters … fans being fans, media being media. We’ve got to be players,” Bonino said.
“In Newport, no one really [knew] who you are, just going down the boardwalk to the Bear Flag to eat fish tacos and no one cares,” Bonino said. “Here, you go grab a sandwich and a couple people will come over and say, ‘Glad you’re here.’ Nice when that happens. Definitely a change.”
ABOUT THAT TRADE: Bonino’s close friend Kyle Palmieri is now line-mates with Kesler, who has 13 goals and 30 points.
“It’s a good opportunity for him,” Palmieri said of Bonino. “[Kesler] brings a lot of experience to our lineup. He’s been there in late June battling for a Stanley Cup. Obviously, Bones was a great player for us.
“Kes has brought an aspect to our lineup of working hard. He competes, does his best to outwork the opponent every night. It’s something we needed, bring in a little more grit, sandpaper, to our lineup.”
IN POSITION: Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen, ranked second to injured Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne with 26 wins, was first off the ice Tuesday and will probably start the team’s first game since Wednesday, following the NHL All-Star break.
Based on lines at Monday’s practice and Tuesday, it appears the Ducks (31-10-6) will go with Patrick Maroon-Getzlaf-Perry, Matt Beleskey- Kesler-Palmieri, Andrew Cogliano-Rickard Rakell-Jakob Silfverberg, and Rene Bourque-Nate Thompson-Tim Jackman.
Maroon has two goals and three assists in the past three games after ending a 17-game goal-less skid.
“This is how hockey goes. You fall into a slump and find ways to score goals,” Maroon said. “Playing with Getzlaf and Perry, good things happen. You’ve got to go to the net with your stick on the ice.”
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said Maroon’s knee injury in the third game “slowed him down a great deal. Now he’s feeling really good about himself, and the second half is when he picked it up last year.”
Forward Devante Smith-Pelly, meanwhile, is likely to be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. He hasn’t scored a goal since Dec. 1.
“He’s not playing bad. We’ve got a good team, and it’s not so easy to crack the lineup sometimes,” Boudreau said. “When we play certain foes, certain guys are better suited for that situation. I have no problem with what Devo has done.”