By Garrett Perry, Josh Elliott and Curtis Ng
With three games on the NHL schedule Wednesday night, THN gets you prepared with five things to keep an eye on, from the Ducks flying high at home, to Jonathan Bernier facing his former West Coast team.
All eyes will be on the nets tonight as L.A.’s Ben Scrivens returns to Toronto, though he won’t play against Jonathan Bernier, the goalie he was traded for in the off-season. Scrivens has been a godsend for the Kings since starter Jonathan Quick went down with a lower-body injury last month, but Martin Jones has also been impressive lately and will get the start. Scrivens, the former Leaf backup, boasts the league’s best save percentage (.943) and second best goals-against average (1.56) through 15 games played. He’s also lost only twice in regulation. The Leafs traded Scrivens, along with Matt Frattin and a draft pick, to get their hands on the highly touted Bernier. Bernier has been strong for the Leafs since leaving Quick’s shadow, splitting the net with incumbent James Reimer and posting a solid .929 save percentage and 2.49 goals-against average. Will Bernier assert himself against his former team tonight?
Ducks in a row
Perched at the top of the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks are looking mightier than ever. They’ll be going for their fourth straight victory Wednesday night as they face off against the Minnesota Wild at home. The team’s success can largely be attributed to the play of captain Ryan Getzlaf and linemate Corey Perry. With the help of some solid goaltending, the Ducks duo have led their team to a 21-7-5 record, while remaining the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss at home, where they are 11-0-2. Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf is currently riding a 12-game point streak, in which he has six goals and nine assists. Perry, on the other hand, has equally impressed, scoring goals in six straight contests, a career high, to increase his total to 20 on the season. The Ducks’ number one line, which pairs Getzlaf and Perry with Dustin Penner, has combined for 45 goals on the year, the highest total among any three teammates in the league this year. Their stellar play begs the question: are they locks for Canada in Sochi?
Wildly bad on the road
The Minnesota Wild visit the Anaheim Ducks tonight and it is not looking good for the Wild. Sure, they’re both playoff teams in a competitive Western Conference, but the Wild are bad on the road (5-6-3) while the Ducks haven’t lost in regulation at home this season (11-0-2). Minnesota’s five road wins are the fewest of any playoff team in the league and the fewest of any Western Conference team. They also have the second fewest goals for of any playoff team in the league and second fewest of any Western team. They’ve scored 48 goals at home, good for 10th in the league, but their 26 goals on the road are second-last, ahead of only Buffalo. To make matters worse, seven of their next eight games including tonight are on the road. As it stands, the Wild are barely holding on to a playoff spot.
Giving Crawford a ‘Raan’ for his money
Hawks starter Corey Crawford suffered a groin injury on Sunday against the Panthers and will be out for three weeks. Backup Nikolai Khabibulin is also out with a groin injury. In a matter of weeks, 24-year-old Antti Raanta has gone from being a call-up from AHL Rockford to being the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie for the near future. Kent Simpson was called up to serve as Raanta’s backup. Part of it could be from playing behind a championship-caliber roster, but Raanta’s numbers have been superb. He sports a 4-0-1 record and has a .924 save percentage and a 2.14 goals-against average. When Crawford returns, will Raanta have earned himself an extra look or two? Meanwhile, the Flyers are in town and it marks Ray Emery’s first game back to Chicago since winning the Stanley Cup with them last season. Emery didn’t play during the post-season, but he did compile a silly 17-1-0 record, a .922 save percentage and a 1.94 goals-against average last season.
The Toronto Maple leafs will be without their captain and big time minutes-muncher Dion Phaneuf when they take to the ice tonight at the ACC. The Leafs’ defencemen will sit out two games for his hit to the numbers on Boston’s Kevan Miller in Sunday’s 5-2 loss. The play went un-penalized by referees, but didn’t go unnoticed by the NHL Department of Player Safety, who slapped the nine-year NHL veteran with the first suspension of his career. Phaneuf is averaging a team-high 24 minutes and 13 seconds of ice time this season. While his presence will be missed, it could prove to be a good measuring stick. GM Dave Nonis will get a good opportunity to see how youngsters Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner respond to increased playing time. This in turn could go a long way in determining Phaneuf’s value with the team during contract negotiations. How good are the Leafs without Phaneuf? Is he really worth $50 million over seven years, like he is believed to be asking? One bright spot to point out, Joffrey Lupul, who has been hampered by a groin injury, will suit up for the Leafs after missing the past seven games.