John Gibson (ANA - 36) makes a save during warmups.

So Hope Does Work

Well, well, what do we have here? The whole world has the Anaheim Ducks losing more games than they’ll win this season. Nobody believed they would open their season well, with  Winnipeg in town on Wednesday night. But look hard—they won, convincingly. And they did most of the things everyone thought they would not, including scoring on the power play. They did that twice in five tries.  The final score was 4-1 in the Ducks’ favor. Remember when I said that sometimes, hope works, in my Ducks preview story? For now, an idea that’s working.

It started out well, and never got worse. The Ducks got a goal from a backliner, Kevin Shattenkirk, to open their season, at just past six minutes in the first period. They had survived a seven shot PP against before Shattenkirk opened the scoring. This was on an early penalty by  Lindholm for high sticking, earned just after two minutes had elapsed.

At 13:20, their newest phenom, the third overall draftee from this past summer, got a goal. That’s Mason McTavish, and he avoided any kind of “how long till you score” questions (ask Trevor Zegras how hard that is to put up with) that might otherwise have come his way. His goal happened with Winnipeg not having notched one themselves. The two assistees on that second Anaheim goal, by the way, were the same two who assisted on goal one, albeit in reverse order. They were Silfverberg and Lundestrom.

McTavish did not know he would play until 4pm on gameday, when Troy  Terry  had to withdraw because of illness.

Silfverberg commented after the game that he appreciated playing with Lundestrom and McTavish, the latter whom scraps away in close to win battles. He also said, and it’s the sentiment of everyone in Anaheim, that it was “really good to get that going right off the start,” speaking of the power play. More on that as we go.

McTavish’s goal, scored at even strength, came off a shot out of the corner that hit Lundestrom in the pads to the goalie’s right. He banged at it, it shot across the crease, and McTavish thwacked it past Hellebuyck.

So if he does go back to Junior, and there’s no reason to think he won’t, after his nine-game “hello there,” he’ll do it with at least one tally in the bigtime to smile about, but probably more. McTavish, by the way, is the youngest competitor ever to suit up for the team. He turns 19 next January 30th. He played 14:40, recording one shot, one hit, and one takeaway. He was also the reason for two Jets penalties.

And the love continued. Adam Henrique scored on the power play, a tally on which young McTavish notched an assist to go along with that goal. And despite the Jets having gotten a goal by Kyle Connor on the early going of period two, Anaheim allowed no more.

But they did get a goal of their own about a third of the way through the third by Rickard Rakell. That, too, was on the PP. By  the way, you’ll hear this number a  lot:  last year’s PP was amongst the  worst, ever. They were 8.9% effective. The goal is twenty percent. Tonight, obviously, at two for five, they sit at forty percent.

The goal at first appeared to be Jamie Drysdale’s, but it was tipped by  Rakell on the way  in. So that meant yet another  tally from one of the guys who has to step up his game as a leader.

Anaheim did all of this while being outshot by a decent margin. That stat ended at 34-22 for the Jets. And the Jets did not help themselves, either. They were zero for five in the power play department. As was said, Anaheim had five PP attempts as well to put in the aforementioned two goals.

John Gibson was his usual steady self, at times reaching the spectacular. This was no more true than in the third period, when he made a fantastic glove save on Josh Morrissey. Gibson was also helped by his team’s defense. The Ducks blocked 18 shots, to Winnipeg’s six, and they took away seven pucks, to the visitors’ one.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf led the Ducks in shots on goal, with four.

 

Notes

Two of the Ducks’ scratches, Sam Steel and Max Jones, are figured to be amongst the next generation of Anaheim regulars. Jones is out for health-related reasons. But with McTavish on the roster and Bo Groulx up with the big club and playing, those other two are just going to have to wait, even if healthy. At least until McTavish has to return to one of my hometowns—Peterborough of the OHL.

If nothing else, he had an interesting day capped off with a great night at 1-1-2 and a plus-two rating.

Groulx was the center on the fourth line in this, his NHL debut. Flanking him were Nicolas Deslauriers and Derek Grant.

Brian Kennedy is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.