Coach Randy Carlyle expects a tough brand of hockey, and that’s evident in the composition of the roster built by general manager Bob Murray.
It starts from the top down with star center Ryan Getzlaf, a playmaking center who dishes out big hits and isn’t afraid to fight.
J.T. Brown was picked up on waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, and 24 hours later the forward was in the lineup for the Ducks’ loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
The 27-year-old Minnesotan showed why the Ducks moved so quickly to add him to the roster.
Brown picked up an assist on the Ducks’ only goal, and it came after the kind of hard forecheck — and gritty play — Carlyle is seeking.
“I was excited. Obviously, they’ve got a good team here,” said Brown, who was getting his hair dyed blond when he received the news he was heading to Anaheim. “They play a tough style; tough team to play against.
“And I think that was something that fit well with me and the way that I like to play. The last 24 hours were pretty stressful and crazy. And to be able to just go back to hockey, that’s what we do. When something’s stressful, hockey is kind of our outlet.”
Brown filled the left wing role on the second line for the suspended Andrew Cogliano and logged more than nine minutes of ice time. The early returns are promising, with Carlyle looking for players who will win one-on-one puck battles and raise the level of intensity.
“I think he came as advertised,” Carlyle said. “He was on the puck, he was physical when he had to be. He acquitted himself very well and we see integrating him into the penalty-killing unit at some point here in the not too distant future”.
The Ducks’ penalty-killing unit ranks No. 5 in the NHL with an 83.9% success rate.
The Ducks’ power play is a different story. The Ducks are scoring goals on 17.2% of man-advantage opportunities (No. 24 in the league), and even with a healthy lineup their fortunes haven’t changed.
Part of the issue, in Carlyle’s view, is the lack of power-play chances.
“A lot of times,” Carlyle said, “we’re getting two and three power plays when the opposition at times is enjoying six and seven against us, so those are the things that we need to correct.”
Carlyle would like the Ducks to limit penalties to three a game at most. But in order to place the opposition in the penalty box more often, he knows what his team needs to do.
Not the quickest-skating team, so the Ducks would need to “develop more of a grind game and more of an offensive zone game that would really enable us to draw more penalties,” he said.
That will be paramount when the Ducks face the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who are finally playing up to expectations with a four-game winning streak and top blue-liners Kris Letang and Justin Schultz back in the lineup.
DUCKS UP NEXT
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
On the air: TV: NBCSN. Radio: 830.