Free-agent acquisition Clayton Stoner played last season for Friday’s opponent, the Minnesota Wild, but he said Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau hasn’t sought inside information from him.
“Early in the season, it’s not as much about the other team as it is yourself,” Stoner said. “Here, we’re a little more aggressive in our systems, creating more offense.”
He said abundant interest from other teams was the top reason it was “time for a change.” The Ducks’ four-year, $13-million offer — and the later addition of his best friend from the Wild, forward Dany Heatley — affirmed the decision.
Stoner said he hadn’t circled the game on the calendar, joking about delivering a check to his ex-teammate, center Kyle Brodziak, “just ‘cause he wouldn’t get too mad at me.”
Leaving ego at door
Boudreau praised the decision by rookie goalie John Gibson to remain on the East Coast and play Friday and Saturday for the Ducks’ minor-league affiliate in Norfolk, Va.
Gibson started the Ducks’ season-opener in his hometown of Pittsburgh but was beaten for six goals on 39 shots. Frederik Andersen was used in net the next three games, winning them all.
“This is a smart move by ‘Gibby,’ ” Boudreau said. “He knows he’s a good goalie, just wants to get sharper.”
Journeyman goalie Jason LaBarbera, summoned to Anaheim from Norfolk, said avoiding rust is “big.... There’s so many factors — mental preparation, your thought process in the game and your sharpness with all the little things you have to accomplish.”
Maroon’s absence allows Rickard Rakell to return to the lineup after losing his third-line center spot to rookie William Karlsson, who has two goals and a shootout game-winner.
Rakell practiced Thursday at left wing on the fourth line with center Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman.
“I know I had a rough start, but it can only get better, so I’m going to get back to the things I’m good at,” Rakell said. “I played both center and wing growing up. Maybe be a little stronger on the puck, get pucks out, more battles with defensemen on the boards.”
When: 7 PDT.
On the air: Prime Ticket. Radio: 830.
Etc. The Wild is the fifth team since 1943-44 to open the season with two shutouts, and will seek to spoil the Ducks’ home opener. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper, 24, will try to make his team the first since the 1930-31 Toronto Maple Leafs to open with three consecutive shutouts. Minnesota hasn’t played since Saturday.